Food and Drink


Wandering through Le Flaneur

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The word flaneur comes from the French term meaning ‘stroller’, ‘saunterer’ or ‘loafer’ – all things I’m somewhat partial to. Charles Baudelaire brought the term into the popular parlance by using it to describe someone who explores a city on foot, down the laneways and arcades, in order to properly experience it.

This idea of exploration is the theme behind new Hawthorn cafe Le Flaneur, which joins Cafe Ora and The Quartermaster’s Store in bringing quality coffee to the well-heeled inner Eastern suburbs. Le Flaneur, which opened last Thursday, has a open layout with large front windows that slide back to offer semi-alfresco dining in the warmer months. The interior design is also a little wacky. There’s a tree inside, a feature wall covered with pages of French books and a series of prints showing animals dressed in tuxedos.

But the centrepiece of the new cafe is the coffee geek gear. There’s a sleek Hydra Synesso coffee machine and an array of syphon, cold drip and pour over apparatus that have a sort of steam punk feel. With a coffee list as long as the food menu, barista Tony Lin – who was trained by 2011 Australian latte art champ Kirby Berlin – explains that exploring the different coffees at the cafe is similar to the flaneur’s journey through the city.

“A lot of people drink espresso in Melbourne, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But if they tell me what they like I can offer then an option they might not have tried before. For example someone who normally has a long black might like a syphon blend single origin, or a latte drinker might enjoy a piccolo.”

I tried a Panama Roast poured over a chemex with a coava cone, basically coffee filtered through a metal cone rather than a paper filer.

Tony tells me paper filters can add a chemically after-taste to the coffee, and using the coava cone as produces a more authentic and robust flavour. It also looks pretty cool.

I’m normally a flat white kinda guy but the citrus twang to the coffee made me want to sip it rather than down it in one gulp, as is usually my want. It was sunny outside and the coffee went well with the weather. Nice job Tony.

Beyond coffee there’s a French-inspired menu with a health focus (though I don’t see how offering two types of Croque Monsieurs can be that healthy.) Besides the usual sandwiches and baguettes there are more interesting options like prawn, iceberg and mayo on a mini brioche bun ($8) and seafood burgers are in the works.

From my brief exploration at La Flaneur, I liked was I saw (and drank). It’s more than enough to make me stroll back to Hawthorn again and see what else is on offer.

Le Flaneur
5 Church St, Hawthorn
9853 8589
Tues – Fri 7am – 4pm
Sat to Sun 8am – 4pm

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