Plug Nickel | Collingwood

Pre-pandemic, Plug Nickel was a specialty coffee shop with limited seating, a takeaway focus and a short menu of sandwiches and snacks from sister venue Dr Morse. Queue 2021 (and 2022 … it seems), and an unused liquor license and a council-funded parklet has given Plug Nickel’s French barista the opportunity to pivot the venue to an after-work offering.

Julien – who we’ll just call Julien – came to Melbourne via Michelin-starred restaurants in France and Monaco (including Paris restaurant Christopher Coutanceau and Alain Ducasse’s Le Louis XV). He’s bringing his A-game to the night shift, with a seasonal offering that changes as often as Melbourne’s weather.

“The concept is around fresh ingredients,” Julien says. “We’re not running a cocktail list, it’s more like a selection based around three or four drinks changing every week.” The height of summer saw plenty of mango and peach, chilli and melon, he says. Going forward it depends on what he can find at the markets, plus the classics, of course. In keeping with Plug Nickel’s cafe roots, shots are served in espresso cups.

The venue does not have a kitchen, but that does not stop the snacks rolling until last drinks are called. There’s the usual cheese and charcuterie, plus bread, terrine, olives and hummus. Plans are afoot for a permanent terrace over the outdoor space, with construction underway as soon as the approval comes in (nudge nudge, Yarra City Council). Looks like Plug Nickel’s after-hours adventures are here to stay.

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