A new urban oasis arrives in Melbourne’s north
From the team behind The East Pantry and Parkstone comes a new cafe oasis in Melbourne’s north. Placed in the bustling Essendon Fields business and community precinct, Friction is a light-filled, modern eatery nailing the winning mix of top-notch customer service and quality cuisine, where local ingredients are at the forefront.
Owners, Michael and Monica Barbar and Nick Dicello, and head chef, Daniel Challis, were given the opportunity to take on the newly-developed, urban space two years ago and jumped at the idea. Home to over 7,000 corporate workers, the team noticed a lack of opportunities to enjoy quality, fresh food and coffee in the area. Filling that void, Friction has arrived as a welcoming and unpretentious retreat for both workers and locals. Here, you’ll find the team running the venue the old-fashioned way, waiting tables and slinging coffees whilst chatting to regulars, forming a strong communal culture and creating genuine connections that keep customers coming back time and time again.
Paired with their unrelenting philosophy to stick to the basics and do them well, Friction is steadfast in their commitment to champion locally-sourced ingredients. Barbar comments, “After the pandemic, we’re trying to support local businesses as much as possible and ensure everything is made in Australia.” For the team, this decision is about more than obtaining exceptional produce; it’s about using their power in the hospitality industry to keep Australian businesses afloat and create a thriving local community.
The menu displays a skilful level of delicacy and finesse with everything made in-house, from the bbq sauce to the vegan almond feta. If you’re a traditionalist, the menu is loaded with Melbourne brunch staples including Smashed Avo, Corn & Zucchini Fritters and their signature dish, the Chilli Scramble, topped with bacon, spring onion, parmesan and parsley. Come lunch, try the Beef Rib Burger – slow cooked on the bone and packed with pickles, jalapeños and a house-made BBQ sauce. The menu features a good representation of halal, vegetarian and vegan options, including the Falafel Bowl – an authentic Lebanese recipe from Barbar’s mother – and Pulled Jackfruit Tacos, a must for veg heads and carnivores alike. Apart from the main menu, there are also plenty of grab-and-go options, making the eatery the ideal pit stop for busy office workers and travellers on the way to the airport.
Friction is a welcome haven for coffee lovers, serving only the best beans from iconic Melbourne roastery, St. Ali. On offer are St Ali’s Orthodox Blend as the house blend, as well as a weekly rotation of single origins. For those avoiding caffeine, you’ll also find a colourful array of healthy smoothies, including the Pink Panther, which is packed with dragon fruit, pineapple, passionfruit and coconut water. If you fancy boozing up your brunch, Aperol Spritzes and Mimosas are also available.
Designed by Wanye Finschi (Duke of Wellington, Grosvenor Hotel Bar & Restaurant, Oriental Tea House), Friction is no conventional cafe. Spacious and filled with luscious foliage, the venue brings the outdoors inside to create a comforting and tranquil atmosphere – and one highly Instagrammable café. Every detail of the space has been creatively considered, with wooden accents, contemporary prints and luxurious homewares from Robert Gordon adorning the space. By night, Friction transforms into an intimate venue space for your next celebration, whether it be a work event, meeting, birthday party or christening. Function packages include a wide variety of impeccable finger food options, including kofta skewers, antipasto boards and fried calamari. The space can accommodate up to 100 guests, with an inbuilt sound system to create the perfect ambience.
Friction hopes to surprise guests with a refreshing take on Melbourne brunch classics, where the food on the plate is allowed to speak for itself. Boasting a unique and visually charming interior, with a menu to match, it’s the venue that Essendon Fields undoubtedly needs – whether for a casual brunch with friends, formal client meetings or your next family function. With this in mind, Friction is sure to bring a new foodie experience to Melbourne’s north and become a leading venue in the city’s cafe scene.