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HOT: Square and Compass, 222 Clarendon St, East Melbourne

square and compass cafe

Square and Compass in East Melbourne was recently crowned as one of Melbourne’s best new cafes and it's the combined work of owners with links to Pillar of Salt, Touchwood and Barry.

Which means it’s entirely possible to eat well and drink well in a place that also caters for kids.

Square and Compass stands alone on Clarendon Street inside a red brick terrace house, surrounded by residences, offices, health services and hospital blocks. Since its opening it’s been a drawcard for East Melbourne locals and workers bereft of good eateries at the northern end of Fitzroy Gardens.

square and compass cafe

The cafe is bright and welcoming and at 8am on a Sunday it’s already filling up with young families. There’s space for prams and numerous high chairs available. It’s too cold to hang out at the chic courtyard at the back but come summer I’m sure it’ll be popular with kids.

square and compass cafe

The all day menu includes cafe standards with a twist and over several visits I’ve tried…

square and compass cafe

… the five grain porridge, with a ribbon of sweet apple puree creaminess punctuated by a crunchy crumble. It’s sort of like mixing an apple pie into your oats! However, I’d prefer fresh fruit to dehydrated fruit – stretchy, leathery dried fruit has never been my thing. ($13.50).


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square and compass cafe

…the waffles, a gorgeous berry and flower-strewn palette atop some fluffy waffles. I like the addition of brandy snaps jutting out of the vanilla-flecked cream ($16.50).

square and compass cafe

peanut butter, heirloom tomatoes and toasted peanuts on toast ($13). The combination sounds weird but the menu says ‘trust us’ – so I do. It does work surprisingly well. The peanut butter is not particularly sweet and the savoury nuttiness balances out the tangy juicy tomatoes. I’m surprised it’s not on more cafe menus because now I’ve tried it once it seems like an entirely appropriate sandwich combination.

square and compass cafe

They serve coffee by Seven Seeds and Promised Land, Chai Boy chai and Mork hot chocolate. Babycinos come with marshmallows!

square and compass cafe

The service is friendly at Square and Compass and they are used to having little people around.  It makes a great pit stop if you’re heading to Fitzroy Gardens and if you want to take away a picnic I highly recommend their gourmet rolls, particularly the pork belly with crackling (all $10), and maybe grab a decadent Doughboys Doughnuts as well.

HOT Tips:

  • Pram access;
  • Numerous high chairs;
  • Standard menu suitable for kids;
  • disabled toilet which fits a pram; and
  • free parking on Clarendon Street at certain times.

Square and Compass, 222 Clarendon St, East Melbourne (03) 9416 4914

Mon to Fri 7:00 am – 4:00 pm

Sat to Sun 8:00 am – 4:00 pm

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Joyce Watts is a former intellectual property, IT and media lawyer turned serial entrepreneur.

As well as being the founder of TOT: HOT OR NOT she helps businesses with their SEO, email marketing & social media as BrightSmart.com.au; she owns an online bike store CycleStyle.com.au and develops and produces creative experiences for families via WheelieGoodFun.com. She used to publish another popular lifestyle and food blog called MEL: HOT OR NOT The decisive guide to Melbourne.

She lives in inner-city Melbourne with her husband, two children and seven bikes.

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