Scorcher reviews: Oppen
20/2 Maddock St, Windsor
It was Paul Keating who once said: “This is the café Melbourne had to have.”
I’m not sure how often the former PM eats out these days but if he went to Oppen, a Scandinavian-inspired, design-focused café in Windsor, I reckon he might just make a captain’s call and bestow upon it an Australia Day honour for Services for Smorrebrod.
Scandi has become shorthand for much that is forward-thinking and cool these day.
Ross and John’s week of broadcasts in Copenhagen last year confirmed that the Danes, and their neighbours to the north, the Swedes, are world beaters in many of the metrics we care about in modern life: happiness, work-life balance, income equality and, of course, food.
Plenty of that approach to living has rubbed off at Oppen, from the cordial wait staff to the hygge-inducing, ochre-coloured room and the original, made-for-Instagram Aussie-Scandi menu.
I came to Oppen for two main reasons: the laundry list of tempting smorrebrod and the pre- and post-lunch cocktails.
This is a place where drinking before midday is not only acceptable, it’s encouraged.
Smorrebrod, aka open sandwiches, are delightful little slabs of rye bread loaded with fresh ingredients – think heirloom tomatoes with herb labneh, roast beef with spicy béarnaise, cured salmon with crème fresh – that sent me straight to Nordic nirvana.
The other side of the menu contains a mishmash of Melbournified plates such as the delicious ham hock hash – a dense nest of a dish made up of sauerkraut, leek, potato and poached eggs – as well as a chorizo and chilli relish breakfast roll, cauliflower ‘steak’ with chickpeas and broccoli, soba noodle salad and buckwheat waffles with cacao sauce and saffron pear.
Every Melburnian would love a place like Oppen in their neighbourhood.
With my belly full of booze and rye bread, I could have whiled away the afternoon at Oppen until it closed. Parting was such Swede sorrow.