“The Melbourne art scene (in my opinion) is one that is always trying to find its feet. While there is a strong arts culture within our fair city, I have always felt that sometimes it tries too hard to distinguish itself from the hipper cities of New York or London. Before one budding artist embarks on his or her adventure, there must be plenty of down time. One such favourite hot spot for an artsy undergrad to look for inspiration is at Thousand £ Bend. The big question is whether Thousand £ Bend brings all the necessary stimulus and sustenance to fuel their inspiration.
Thousand £ Bend is situated within an old warehouse on Little Lonsdale Street. The cafe or ‘chill room’ is at the front with a multipurpose space out the back that has been used as a cinema, art gallery and exhibition room. The cafe space is like a typical artsy rented apartment – littered with second-hand furniture and trinkets which don’t have a running theme. The aim of the game is to find a seat which is stable, with comfort being a bonus. With its spacious setting and plenty of seating options from various furniture appropriations, I found that it loses that cafe warmness and cheery element.
My favourite stimulus known as coffee is sourced by Niccolo, a Melbourne boutique coffee importer which is roasted by an Italian – Manuel Terzi (former right hand man to Illy Coffee). The house blend consists of five Washed Arabica Origins and one Natural Arabica Origin. My Long Black[$2.50 (only between the morning rush)] was the standard of a good on-campus uni coffee. It wasn’t the same quality as other notable cafes we have reviewed, but if you are a Uni/Tafe student it would be comparably better than on-campus coffee which often tastes like oil. The flavour was subtle and on some occasions leaving a harsh aftertaste – drinkable coffee without any such wow factor.
The menu at Thousand £ Bend was limited and in most cases unimpressive. The reason for the limited menu was that the kitchen consisted nothing more than a preparing board, fridge and gas station. With this understanding, I had decided on the Grilled Bacon and Egg Sandwich with BBQ sauce, spinach, tomato and cheese [$9]. When my meal came out, it looked very homely. Not the homely meal to be excited about, but rather a sandwich where, with a little effort, could be easy recreated by most of the population (including men). If I was seeking a snack, it may have met my tummy standards, but considering it was a brunch meal – it plainly didn’t. The sandwich was nice with fresh ingredients, but there was too much Spinach dominating the dish and they had used plain sliced bread which brought nothing to the table in terms of flavour.
Thousand £ Bend was not the typical brunch cafe that brings the goods. Sure it provides cheap food which was targeted predominately at Uni student and artist alike, but it doesn’t cut the mustard with Melbournians’ invigorating Brunch culture. What Thousand £ Bend does achieve is the perfect space to present Melbourne’s newest and budding art work and has the large space to create a fantastic Friday Night Drinks domain.”
“Thousand £ Bend boasts ancestry to the infamous St Jeromes cafe / bar (yes, it’s where the laneway festival name originated). For those of you who had never experience St Jeromes before their closure, imagine a cute little cafe tucked in a laneway of Melbourne, where the food was basic and cheap ($3 toasties from memory) and so was the alcohol ($8 long necks!). It was a place where all the hipsters doing their art degrees would hang-out to have a low-budget meal as they sat on milk crates and enjoyed a cigarette.
Perhaps I’ve out-grown it, or perhaps, Thousand £ Bend doesn’t meet my expectations, but I didn’t find it as charming. The menu was limited and cheap (i.e. canned baked beans on toast) and nothing seemed appetising. When the Doctor & co arrived, I ended up ordering the Avocado on Rye with fetta, dukkah and Olive Oil [$8.50]. When I asked for a poached egg on top, the waiter looked at me as if I was asking for too much, suggesting the best they could do was offer a friend egg. No. No, thank-you.
The kitchen space was ridiculously tiny, with basically a home gas stove which they used to prepare the meals. When it had finally came out, I was largely unimpressed. I could have made this at home and saved the $10.
My coffee tasted pretty terrible – the milk was burnt and the bean itself was largely unappealing. My meal was tasty, but largely unsatisfying. There was absolutely nothing wrong with the produce – the bread was delicious, the avocado fresh and the feta tasty, but overall, there was no ‘wow’ factor. The serving size didn’t fill me up and the presentation was average, but had a mile to go in terms of competing with surrounding cafes.
The Doctor ordered the Warm Mashed Potato Cake, topped with smoked salmon, a small herb and rocket salad, capers and aioli (GF) [$13.50]. She said it was okay, however could have done a McDonald’s burger afterwards.
The winner for the table was Mark, who’d ordered the Roo Burger with cheese, tomato, rocket, relish, aioli and onion [$12.00]. It looked delicious.
Thousand £ Bend is not somewhere I would go again. It’s a good place to go if you’re in that artsy crowd – but I think I’ve outgrown it. On the plus side, the interior was huge and there was plenty of seating for everyone.”
Final thought: “A low-rent version of St Jeromes Cafe”