Lovers of freshly baked goods, serious coffee, engaging conversation and Australian gin will find their spiritual home at Tonic Lane. A cafe and ginoteria, it offers a smooth transition from day to night dining and even smoother drinks.
The brains behind the operation is Lain Tapsall, whose very serious passion for quality is balanced by her hearty penchant for fun and frivolity. This duality is evident at Tonic Lane, where five-star service meets eccentric decor and a friendly vibe that will leaving you wanting more.
At Tonic Lane you’ll find the atmosphere of a retro milkbar, grown up and a little left of field. Lain’s old silver Mambo Dragster is suspended from the ceiling, while vintage collectibles from curbsides and op-shops adorn the venue.
In the spirit of a ginoteria, the only hard liquor on offer is Australian gin, with each state represented on the menu. Lain is passionate about supporting local suppliers and distilleries, and she has passed this onto her team, who are forever enhancing their knowledge about the botanical-based spirit. There’s more than 50 drops to try but if you’re looking for something super simple, there’s also a curated collection of local wines, beers, ciders and house-made mocktails.
This same attention to detail extends to the food, with French-born chef, Alban Badet, bringing his experience as Head Chef at L’Etoile to the menu.
The offerings may be diverse, but the signature items are all made from scratch on premises. The Bangin’ Breads and Buns are baked fresh daily from a secret recipe, while the red gin relish appears in everything from the breakfast bun through to the cocktails. Herbs for the kitchen and bar also come from Tonic Lane’s ‘garden of garnishes’ in the adjacent laneway.
Pop by in the morning and you’ll find a quirky breakfast menu that includes the smashed hipstas – a carefully layered combo of smashed avocado, cherry tomatoes and house-marinated feta, served on their signature country tin bread. The customised Synesso coffee machine pumps out perfect coffees to accompany your meal, with beans sourced from a local roaster.
Lunchtime brings about a selection of wholesome meals, designed to leave you feeling virtuous and satisfied. The Super Bowls change daily depending on the local produce but are always guaranteed to be delicious and healthy.
As the sun goes down, a range of share plates inform the dining options. Choose between pan-fried chicken balls finished with plenty of spice and tofu, black bean soft shell tacos, or the ultimate nachos with spicy pulled pork.
If you consider yourself a gin aficionado, or just simply want to learn more, grab yourself an Aussie Gin passport – as you sip and sample your way through Tonic Lane’s extensive range, you’ll collect stamps that indicate your travels. It’s also worth popping by for the Aussie Gin Tasting Nights. You can hear the ‘gin story’ direct from the distiller themselves and expand on your knowledge, while also enjoying tastings, an array of classic sharing plates, as well as entertainment courtesy of the resident magician.
Tonic Lane may have quite a large soft spot for the botanical spirit, but there’s room for everyone to feel at home at this reinvigorated milk bar, any time of day.