South of Johnston is a new cafe / restaurant on the south end of Oxford St in Collingwood, some distance from the street’s established cafe Proud Mary. It’s much larger and grander inside than I was expecting, and has an extensive menu.

All dishes are available all day, so you can have breakfast in the afternoon, which is common enough, or theoretically lunch in the morning (should you be a shift worker, for example). I met a friend there for lunch last Friday. The coffee is good, but not outstanding, but the food is simply lovely. I chose the lamb with cous cous and my friend the soup of the day, which was tomato and herb. Both were exceptional.

sojo1 lunch at South of Johnston, Oxford St Collingwood

sojo2 lunch at South of Johnston, Oxford St Collingwood

It’s easily the fanciest daytime only cafe I’ve ever seen in Melbourne and I assume it will expand its hours to include dinner (and a drinks list) at some point in the future. The sophistication of the interior, with various spaces and seating styles, and the eclectic design and objets suggests an ambition that goes beyond casual breakfasts and lunches.

You may dismiss it as gentrification, but I love how under utilised spaces are being converted to social use in the inner north, and how the inevitable ugly apartment developments are making at least some concession to providing new social spaces (such as Backstreet cafe on the corner of Napier and Kerr streets, or the soon to open Fitzroy Thieves on the corner of Rose and Gore streets).

sojo3 lunch at South of Johnston, Oxford St Collingwood

lunch at South of Johnston, Oxford St Collingwood

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