650 Little Bourke Street Melbourne, VIC
03 8899 6219
If there’s one thing Melburnians love, it’s a warehouse conversion, and we might have stumbled upon one of the best yet. The team from Top Paddock and Kettle Black are up to their old tricks, opening what is sure to be another Melbourne gem.
Higher Ground is just another notch on the list of excellent venues started by hospitality legend, Nathan Toleman. Though he’s been in the industry for a while, he took things to the next level in 2013 when he joined forces with Diamond Rozakeas, Ben Clark and Sam Slattery to launch Top Paddock, and then Kettle Black a year later.
With so much going on, they’ve since enlisted the help of group Executive Chef, Nate Wilkins. Nate has enlisted the help of 16 chefs who have cooked their way through the kitchens of some of Melbourne’s favourite restaurants including Jacques Reymond, Pope Joan and Supernormal.
Nathan said Higher Ground is “not really a restaurant, not really a cafe – people can come in for coffee or lunch and stay for dinner.” As you would expect, the menu features twists on typical cafe style food.
Top Paddock’s hot cakes broke the internet when they first launched – they’ll be here on the menu once again, joined by buffalo yoghurt and chia with muddled strawberries. The perfect sweet pairing is sure to clog up your Instagram feed shortly. Keep an eye out for savoury delights including scrambled eggs with roasted cauliflower and goat’s cheese.
Coffee is provided from the group’s Square One roaster, which now supplies all of the sibling venues. A range of delicious cold-pressed juices are on hand –the flavours are as brilliant as the colour of the beetroot and celery juice.
As the sun sets and your mind wanders towards dinner you’ll be able to snack on delicious shared plates whilst you chat among friends, with glasses of pinot noir in hand. The offerings are approachable but have an edge provided by native ingredients and produce grown on Nathan’s farm in Merricks.
When you walk in it’s hard not to be in awe of the soaring ceiling. The (approximately) 15-meter-high ceiling is complemented by exposed black metal beams and cool, white rafters. The large industrial windows bring in plenty of natural light, and with pale wooden furnishing, exposed brick walls and concrete features, “Scan-dustrial” is the perfect way to describe Higher Ground.
It’s not all cool, calm and collected though – you’ll still be able to find plush couches and armchairs on the upper level lounge area. The mezzanine floor wraps around the interior, providing plenty of seating for all who come.
Collingwood’s Design Office and Basis Builders have also incorporated an open kitchen for those who like to get a clear view of all the action. While you may have to wait for a table, do so in comfort. A coffee cart is just outside the front door to provide waiting diners with a caffeine hit and fast take away coffees for those on the go.
Nathan isn’t worried about the towering expectations of Higher Ground though. With Top Paddock and Kettle Black the team took the Melbourne cafe scene to another level and now they “want to take it further with Higher Ground.”