Nestled on the corner of Belmont’s busiest roads, the pastel pink door and hanging gold macrame of this quaint family run establishment signals a modest, homely cafe, where the wholesome food is as warm as the service.
Previously stocking homewares and fashion items, 2 Little Birds cafe is truly a family affair for Tanya Watson, the mum of two, who named the store after her daughters; Lolita, 9 and Collette, 7. Tanya and her mother, Mary Wood, opened the cafe and store four years ago, after Tanya moved to Belmont from Ballarat.
Like many others, a full café was not the original plan, but the new venture was necessary to accommodate the family lifestyle Tanya holds close to her heart.
“It was like running two different businesses and I was also trying to be a mum to these two little girls who I fought to have for so long [after spending 10 years trying to fall pregnant through IVF],” Tanya says, “So we went right, something has to give. In December/January we went that’s it, we’re going all café. We looked at the figures and the café was stronger, so here we are. We just had to do this to give us some quality of life.”
After closing for just 10 days at the end of January, the café re-opened on February 9, bringing a bright and beautiful home-away-from-home offering to the Roslyn Road shopping strip. The space previously used for the retail element of the store, now boasts an open dining space with a large communal table and more seating options, offering a comfortable ‘working’ space with a laid back atmosphere; no quick-stop, stand-up-to-drink-your-coffee-then-get-out vibe.
2 Little Birds have also taken a new approach to the menu, focusing on vegetarian and vegan items for reasons both ethical and creative. Within this mindset, the focus on quality of fresh, local produce, made with a bit of TLC, is an obvious influence on the menu with one pastry chef, and one savoury chef who is 100 per cent vegan, putting their all into each and every dish.
“We’ve had such a massive response to the vegetarian and vegan menu that I just know we’ve done the right thing,” Tanya says. “Every meal can be vegan, they all have that option, but we still have eggs.
“Everything is made in-house, right down to our sauces. It’s only our breads that aren’t, we just don’t have the capacity to make it, but everything else is, and we just can’t keep up with our raw slices, people are loving them.”
Breakfast items feature the likes of rice pudding, smashed avo and a stuffed mushroom breaky burger, while lunch items take an experimental approach with their chilli bean bowl, completed with corn chips, tomato and avo salsa.
2 Little Birds makes it easy to find the ideal meal as well, with the option of building your own bowl. Choose your own base, your salads and your toppings and let the chefs turn it into a delightful meal.
“We’re also going to have a weekly vegan special, so we’ll be trialling menu items that we will be putting on down the track, and testing the waters.”
With a menu entirely free of meat a possibility in the near future, Tanya is excited to trial this truly experimental and forward-thinking mindset. “I see within 12 months we will probably be a complete vegan café, maybe even before,” she says, “It depends on the response we get from the public. If we keep getting the feedback we get, we’ll go full vegan, and if we keep selling heaps of eggs, we’ll stay with the eggs. You’ve got to give the people what they want.”
While not a coffee drinker herself, Tanya appreciates the need for great coffee, serving Jasper’s signature fair-trade organic blend, the Billy Dunne, but also offering the fun options of turmeric, beetroot or matcha lattes.
As for the décor, a bohemian, white-washed interior is complemented with light wood features, white brick walls, with an array of fresh greenery atop of tables, counters and hanging from the ceiling.
“I’m trying to re-create a Byron Bay sort of holiday feel. So many people come in and say ‘it’s just so relaxing, I could sit here all day,’ and that’s exactly what I wanted. That’s the feel I wanted,” Tanya says, “It also reflects a little bit of my home. I wanted people to feel like they were in my house and they could sit and just stay.
“We’re a little bit quirky like that, it’s different to what everyone else is doing, which is what I like. I didn’t want to be like anyone else. That’s another reason why I think the new menu has worked for us so much, because we’re different. And with Evie [the talented vegan savoury chef] on board, we’re about to get a little more different.”
There’s also a quaint little courtyard to enjoy on those balmy mornings, where the sun is shining and you’re in need of a hint of caffeine. 2 Little Birds meets the feeling of a place where you can relax on a Sunday because you know you’re in good company and feel great knowing you’re going to get some food that hits the spot just right. Kick your feet up and relax, if only for a moment. You’re in the company of your home away from home.
2 Little Birds is located at 46B Roslyn Road, Belmont.
Written by Talia Rinaldo