Penny Farthing Espresso is a cute combination of the bygone era of top hats and handlebar moustaches with insouciant Northcote coolness.

The cafe first caught my eye because of the fabulous steampunk bicycle in the window. Apparently it’s a working apparatus, although the penny farthing enthusiast who built it has only ridden it twice…and fallen off twice. Nevertheless it’s a beautiful piece of art.

But if you’re not a bike fan, then Penny Farthing Espresso is a comfortable little spot with vintage wooden chairs and tables in the front room and a secluded courtyard in the back. Naturally the place is decorated with many minature penny farthings and other sepia-toned bicycle paraphernalia. It draws a crowd ranging from young families to pretty girls in vintage dresses.

The cafe has a page of all-day breakfast options and lunch options start at 10:30am, which means if you’re a bruncher rather than breakfaster there’s heaps of choice. For coffee aficionados the baristas make their coffee using Five Senses coffee beans using a Synesso machine, so I assume it means it’s good coffee? They also retail tea and coffee to take home. (To read coffee reviews, check out Backseat Baristas, Melbourne Coffee Review and Melbourne Coffee Guide).

Scanning the Spring menu, my stomach was drawn to two items: apple and rhubarb compote served warm with walnut ricotta infused with freshly shaved vanilla pods  and thinly sliced housemade almond biscotti ($10) and two slices of French toast drizzled with real maple syrup & topped with seasonal berry compote and garden fresh mint, with a side of Meander Valley double cream ($12).

I decided to go with the latter and not much longer a plate of eggy bread landed. It was neither the best or worst French toast I’d had, I just wish the plate had more than just a garnish of berry compote and the toast had been fried a little crisper. Next time I think I’ll go with the compote – the picture on the Penny Farthing Espresso website is pretty and mouth-watering.

For other Northcote cafe options, try the equally quirky Palomino.

Penny Farthing Espresso on Urbanspoon