There’s a little bit of whispering going on about this place, tucked away under an apartment building by the train lines near South Yarra Station. The whisper was loud enough for my ears to prick up and start sniffing about to see what all this organic, slow food and handcrafted coffee-fuss was all about.
No, this is not the description from a sommelier. This is the description of the Ethiopian Yirgacheffe coffee bean, one of which you can sample at Outpost. Whether it grabs your attention or just makes you roll your eyes, one thing is clear, these guys mean business not only in what they serve up roasted, ground and extracted into a cup, but also what they prepare and cook for you in the “look at me” open kitchen you stumble into on arrival at this inner city outpost.
The space is oh-so Melbourne with its industrial tiles and fittings, floor to ceiling glass and almost stage-set appearance. Where the casually-dressed staff buzz about seating patrons, plating up delicious-looking food and dropping a brief lecture (if requested) on their coffee philosophy.
The clientele is a mishmash of corporate types from nearby offices, uni students, self-aware urbanites and the occasional interstate tourist (hand goes up).
Sitting in the main dining room, a few steps down from the kitchen, you can’t help but feel you’re trapped in a glass tank that echoes the high decibel voices of other patrons yelling talking to oneanother. There is outside seating, but I’m not fond of eating clean organic food whilst inhaling the spent breath of a smoker.
The clipboard menu changes daily and has some great-sounding dishes to choose from so it’s a breeze to find something you’ll like. I also learn that most of the ingredients are sourced from local suppliers, keeping the Victorian farmers and purveyors happy.
Our lunch spread doesn’t take long to appear despite the fact almost every seat has a backside on it. The penne (17) comes perfectly-cooked and is tossed with tiger prawns, zucchini, chilli, ginger, rocket and olive oil. Lovely.
The veal (19.5) came with a personal recommendation from one of the chirpy staff and was tried by all of us. It was incredibly tender and delicate in its flavours with a final punch from the parmesan. The accompanied gratin was rich in fennel flavours but a little woody and stringy in parts.
Mr K goes for the velvety-soft scrambled eggs (13) and beautifully-salty bacon which was nice with the zingy tomato relish and I loved the wafts from the lemon thyme garnish.
The pork pie (15.5), sitting proudly on the courgette (where’s the ginger?) slaw was more parcel than pie but all was forgotten when I tore through the crispy pastry and took my first wiff of the rich and earthy steam escaping from within.
The slow-cooked pork literally melted on the tongue and the flavour of the pinot and thyme was perfect with the soft and creamy courgette & ginger slaw. I think I needed a glass of red with this one.