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No.19 is a neighbourhood charmer

Where 214 Union Road, Ascot Vale 03 9372 8777 no19.com.au

Open Mon-Fri 7am-4pm, Sat-Sun 8am-4pm

Prices $ 10-$ 19

Cards MC V EFT

Go-to dish Nutella pancake sandwich.

Pro-tip Grab something to go from the panini bar if the time is tight.

It’s hard not to get just a little bit of neighbourhood envy when you’re walking along Union Road in Ascot Vale. Even though it’s right near the showgrounds and some major thoroughfares, it has a distinct village feel; a mix of old and new, a bio-dome of charm.

Sitting firmly on the “new” side is No.19, the latest cafe from Domenic and Diana Caruso, the husband and wife team behind St Rose in Essendon (and the coming Pinkie in Ivanhoe). It’s a stunning fit-out – spacious and cool , with high ceilings, concrete walls, velvet accents, smart lighting, lots of white and hanging greenery. The dabs of whimsy place it screechingly up to the minute.

Walk in and you’re hit with a swirl of mellow beats, smiling staff and the sight of immaculate salted peanut butter pretzel bars.

Take a seat, order a 5 Senses coffee (unless it’s a decaf long black, which arrives dishwater-weak, a barista harrumph in a cup) or a wellness latte and dive into the all-day menu. It’s a luscious version of classic Melbourne cafe fare with a few twists and turns and the luxury cranked right up.

Of course you can get your bircher (coconut with poached fruits), your acai bowl (with organic crumble, banana and peanut butter) and your avocado toast (with quark, tahini and sumac).

But you can also get fat slices of lemony roasted mushroom on toast, with a layer of tender bacon, a poached egg and nubs of crispy cauliflower. It’s all drizzled in a rich Dijon cream and it’s as texturally lush as you can get.

Sweet potato and haloumi fritters bring texture to the fore again, at once creamy and firm, packed full of flavour under a canopy of kale and ultra-chunky hazelnut dukkah.

Other options include a pulled pork benny, brekkie burgers, superfood salads and detox bowls of cured salmon, avocado and greens.

However, if detox is not the name of your game, then you have to get the totally photogenic Nutella pancake sandwich. Filled with peanut butter parfait. Topped with dulce de leche, white chocolate crumb and maple walnuts. And meringue. With a side of Nutella sauce.

And yes, you have to share it because no one could manage it on their own but damn, what a way to go.

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