Field Black Opens in Northcote

Written for Broadsheet

If you ask owner Fraser Davies how he came to name his new cafe Field Black, you’ll get a couple of answers.

The meaning of “Black” changes depending on your provenance. If you’re a Melburnian, “black” refers to the city’s (stereotypical) penchant for black clothes, and its thriving coffee scene.

But Kiwis like himself will get a different explanation: it refers to the “best rugby team in the world”, the New Zealand All Blacks. Davies is inspired by its “extreme professionalism” both on and off the field, an attitude he hopes will be translated to his customers through his staff.

Davies has a 20-year career in the tourism and hospitality industries, seven of which he spent managing The Fitz on Brunswick Street. He always talked about opening a place of his own but his wife and business partner Tiffany provided the nudge he needed to make it happen.

“My wife said at the start of last year: ‘Can you stop talking about it and actually do something about it’,” says Davies. “I think fear held me back for five years and then fear of my wife made me do it,” he jokes.

Head chef Ritchie Boucher is also from New Zealand. He spent six years as the head chef at Oakridge winery in the Yarra Valley and will change the menu every three months.

The autumn offering (arriving at the end of the month) includes breakfast gnocchi with shiitake, enoki, shimeji and oyster mushrooms, goat’s curd and chilli butter; and a sticky-date hotcake with salted-caramel sauce, peanut brittle and Jaffa ice-cream.

Brunswick roasters Padre Coffee, Saint David Dairy and Northcote Bakeshop are all key suppliers.

Davies worked on the polished monochrome interior with Amanda Meiklejohn of Williams Ross Architects. Previously Northern Eatery restaurant, the light-filled site attracted Davies’s attention long before he considered moving in.

“I always looked at the venue; it [was] screaming out to be a daytime cafe … it’s so beautiful, it’s got big open windows,” says Davies.

There are two outdoor areas, a white picket fence entrance with greenery and broad umbrellas, and the back courtyard. Dogs are welcome.

For the kids, there are hardcover books and wooden toys in a dedicated – hidden – play area with a “beautiful rug”, Davies adds.

Field Black
468 High Street, Northcote
0421 748 077

Tue to Sun 7am–4pm

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