Archie Green was an accidental find on a whirlwind trip to Melbourne. Having arrived in the city mid-afternoon and prioritised seeing the NGV’s Triennial exhibition, only a limited range of options for a caffeine and food-requiring traveller (who has standards for coffee) remained after 5pm. Recalling some delectable treats at Luxbite, T by Luxbite was sought out. Disappointingly, while there were pretty cakes in the cabinet, it is solely a takeaway store, with no seating space and no coffee. A wander a little further down the lane though, led to the serendipitous discovery of Archie Green. The door was open, and the menu in the window had enticing options. A promising beginning.
As I wandered in through the door and up the few steps to the main floor of the restaurant, I was greeted by staff, who affirmed that both coffee and food were available. I was given a menu, and invited to find a seat. At that between-meals off-peak hour, there was an abundance of options.
The interior has a modern, sophisticated style that is just what you would hope for in an urbane heart-of-the-city restaurant. Some walls are a cool white, and others a deep British racing green, with black door frames and a black painted pallet shelves cum room dividers providing contrasting accents. There is a range of seating options, from tall stools at bar height tables, to tables and chairs at regular height, to booth seats along longer tables to fit larger groups, again using the dark green and black colours. The narrow, angular lines of the tables and chairs and the polished concrete floor give it a minimalist industrial tone, and made it feel spacious. Walnut-coloured wood for the tabletops and sections of dividers complement the forest shades. Pots of greenery hanging from the ceiling and growing out of the pallet shelves soften the look, so it is not too clinical. Pendant lights with LED filaments provide muted lighting in a warm, orangey hue, recalling the colours from older lightbulbs made of different materials. Funk and indie music played softly over the speakers, making for pleasant background filler.
Needing to leave room for dinner in not too long, but needing something to stave off hunger in the meantime, the snack menu was the most suitable, and also what was available in this inter-main meal time. It was a neat list of options that ran from bar snacks like candied spiced nuts or mixed olives, to a duck, pork, and pistachio terrine with cornichons and house made onion jam. The in-between options though, were the most appealing.
Still in pursuit of caffeine, a soy iced latte was also ordered. There was some initial trepidation about how it was going to turn out, as coffees from bars and restaurants can be a questionable proposition, often done out of necessity because patrons want the option rather than with the dedication to maximising flavour cafes (who sometimes even have associated micro-roasteries) have. The iced latte was served in a tall glass, with a significant head of froth. It was pleasantly cold, and had a rich, chocolatey, nutty flavour, good strength without any bitter notes. It stood up to the standards of Melbourne coffee.
Off the food list, I had picked the Smoked pig’s cheek croquette, with squid ink mayo. This was served hot, of course. It had a good crunchy crumb on the outside, and a creamy, cheesy, savoury filling beneath the outer skin. The cubes of pork cheek in the mix had a good fat to meat ratio, and the right balance of softness to chew. There was a blob of squid ink sauce on top of the croquette, and as subsequently discovered, on the base as well, serving the practical purpose of securing the spherical croquette to the plate. The squid ink was an additional salty, garlicky flavour hit.
The Five spice doughnut with chicken liver parfait and agave was also ordered because curiosity compelled it. It had the look of a regular jam doughnut when brought out, sitting in a polka-dotted muffin case, except for the dollop of agave gel on top being a translucent pearly colour instead of strawberry red. It had the texture of a jam doughnut as well, a doughy chew when bitten into, the light dusting of sugar and cinnamon transferring onto lips in the process. You would not know until you got to the middle, filled bit, that this was not your ordinary doughnut. There, you found a smooth, light mousse of pink, slightly gamey, salty and sweet chicken liver. When mixed with that sugar dusting on the outside and the sweet agave gel, the overall balance was just that side of more sweet than savoury. It was not cloyingly sweet, but enough that you could actually see it being a dessert. It was an interesting play on expectations.
The waitstaff were welcoming and professional, and struck the balance between looking after patrons and excessively hovering.
It turned out that Archie Green had been open for barely over a month at the time of the visit. It certainly is doing many things right, with tasty coffee, interesting food, an aesthetically pleasing fitout, and good staff. Its extended opening hours (0730 to at least 2200 most days, even later towards the weekend) also mean that you have plenty of time to drop by. Competitive as the Melbourne food scene is, hopefully it sticks around so we can make it for a revisit to try some of their other dishes.
Price point: Snacks $4 to $19. $4 and $5 for each of the items had above.
Address: 10 Katherine Pl, Melbourne CBD
Phone: 03 9448 9770
Website: Archie Green