Bluebird Espresso in Collingwood, have you been yet?
I lived on Lygon Street on Carlton for the first 25 years of my life. It was a great place to grow up as it had a wonderful variety of small businesses run by people of assorted nationalities. The Lebansese barber shop on Elgin street, FuLu's Chinese restaurant on Rathdowne street and I particularly remember the Continental (Italian) Milk Bar, run by the Greco family on Lygon street.
My mum would shop there at least once a week and I remember Mr Greco, his wife and children coming around from the counter to pick me up and say hi. I would get a scoop of vanilla ice cream on a cone and that's all I remember, but the hospitality is still very clear in my mind (so is the crush I had on Mr Greco's son Luciano in the early 1980's, I thought he was very Simon Le Bon).
Bluebird Espresso at 134 Johnston Street in Collingwood has been open for 3 months or so now and is gaining a loyal following. The welcoming nature of the staff there reminds me of an old Lygon street cafe, where the owner would sit down for a chat during quieter times.
The coffee is amazing and the menu is simple yet delicious. My buddy and I went there today and I had the Ricotta & Honey on toasted Turkish bread, it was perfection on a plate. The ricotta was fresh, the texture was perfect and the honey tasted like it came straight from a farm, not factory.
My buddy had a toasted sandwich, made with Turkish bread filled with fresh tomato, bocconcini and ham that looked so good even I was tempted to try it! (I don't eat pork or pork products).
Bluebird Espresso is open from 8am to 4pm Tuesday to Saturday and is only a short walk from Victoria Park train station.
When you do pop in, tell the handsome owner/barista that Peta Pledger sent you.