The Rusty Fox is the kind of cafe, deli and foodstore that every neighbourhood high street should be lucky enough to call their own.
On my visit, almost every customer was greeted by name – a healthy population of regulars is a good sign. Apparently the owners are all Kensington locals too.
The space is small but packs a lot in. The front room houses the a long bar/dining bench. The few seats in the sunny front window are prime real estate and if you creep down the corridor there’s a small outdoor courtyard.
This is in addition to several fridges of house made and brought in produce such as Istra bacon and Holy Goat cheeses and their ready made meals.
On the opposite recycled timber wall are high shelves full of condiments, sauces and dry goods and a narrow kitchen and coffee counter. The back wall holds shelves selling Noisette bread and features whimsical art from Melbourne street artist Kaffeine (don’t miss the mural in the back laneway of the store).
The all day menu is short but interesting. I veer towards the warm sweet potato and pumpkin tart with smoky maple (which you can buy by the jar), crispy bacon and watercress salad ($16). The chef warns me that it’s being made from scratch so there’s a bit of wait.
The wait is worth it because I can see exactly how the dish is being made. Puree of warm potato is smeared on a rectangle of puff pastry, cubes of pumpkin are placed on top along with the bacon. Then it’s fresh out of the oven and onto my plate, with the puff pastry all hot and flyaway.
You must leave room for dessert because one of the owners was the head pastry chef at Rockpool and the counter groans with calorie-laden sweets.
It was so hard to choose…so I chose two! The chocolate mousse cake ($7.50) was rich and moist like a Sacher torte and I took home an extra tub of the mousse to share with my family because it was so good.
The olive and pistachio cake ($4.50) was gluten-free treat, with piped lemon curd and foraged local lavendar as a garnish.
The Rusty Fox is a homely place that serves its local populace well, with Five Senses coffee, a neat well-executed menu, gourmet pantry supplies and ready made meals. Just make sure you try the cakes!
The Rusty Fox, 501 Macaulay Rd, Kensington