Pony White: A tribute to the Aussie Willy Wonka

Updated: Nov 19, 2019

Another day, another cafe in Fitzroy. But Pony White defies the 'vegan-only' stereotypes and bearded-hipster baristas. Strolling in from George street, you're warmly greeted by co-owners George and Rose who are no strangers to Melbourne's food scene—they've run other successes like Calavera, in Preston. Their mission is to offer soul food: nurturing, slow food that feels as good as it tastes (and looks!).

So why 'Pony White'? George named the cafe as a tribute to the legendary Macpherson Robertson—Australia's own Willy Wonka. Back in 1878, Macpherson established his confectionery company, also known as 'White City', on George street, and introduced sweet treasures like chewing-gum and fairy floss, as well as the beloved Freddo Frog and Cherry Ripe. He had an affinity with white: the building complexes were painted white, all employees wore white uniforms and he traveled in a carriage behind two white ponies.

Clean lines, camel leather furnishings and a touch of greenery adorn the light-filled space; the mood is a cross between industrial, chic and American diner. Designed with local creatives in mind, the cafe is fitted out with power points aplenty, so you can stay and work while sipping on your specialty coffee or digging into a hearty meal.

The menu features Australian Modern Cusine with a strong Japanese influence, like the Okonomiyaki Benedict with raw yellow fin tuna, bonito flakes, tobiko and furikake. The Soft Shell Crab Baguette special, with a side of chips, is a lunch-time hit, and their range of smoothies, like the Cherry Ripe and Green, But Not (the best green smoothie I've had in Melbs), make for a satisfying meal alone. The Breakfast Ramen is truly special. Remember the soul food mission I mentioned earlier? It takes days to make the tonkotsu broth. Topped with thick-cut bacon, bok choy, mushrooms and a poached egg, this dish is a big bear hug in a bowl and is guaranteed to cure the winter blues. I mean, look at that beautiful yolk!

As featured on Onya Mag.

Images by Tess Presso