It’s becoming more and more apparent to me that it’s hard to find a place to eat in a trendy suburb that isn’t a bit wanky. Often a cafe will hide behind its location or reputation or even their wait staff being allowed to have mow hawks. I had half expected to say that you’re only welcome at Pepper if you’re cooler than...well, everyone. But to be honest it’s genuinely an awesome place to hang out. And if you eat there you’re totally cooler than people who don’t. Fact.

Don’t let the location fool you. Pepper might be directly across the road from a train station, but all this does is enrich your ‘people watch’ experience. I actually saw a guy wearing a plastic bag around his waist. Money can’t buy that kind of experience, people.

If you’re a baby of the early 80s and a lover of the 90s no doubt the first thing you’ll notice when you walk into Pepper is the 90s grunge music they’re playing. Well, not so much ‘grunge’ as Blur. We (a friend and I – a friend who is no doubt cool, but still a bit of a loser to be honest) walked in and instantly realised we probably didn’t deserve to be there and braced ourselves for one of the waiters to ask us to quietly leave. They didn’t. In fact they shamed us by being laid back and polite when we were all ‘uh, na uh we’re totally awesome and all that Northern suburbs stuff talk or something’.

Random mini cactus

We secured* the last two free seats in the house and marvelled at the extensive menu that was relatively well priced, including the fairy bread (yeah, that’s right – fairy bread). It occurred to me that every move I made from here on in added to my bank of ‘cool’. Like a real-life Mario Cart experience. I ordered soy latte (two cool coins) and the Pepper Stack (one cool coin) all while having a hilarious chit chat with one of the waitresses about cute dogs versus cute babies (three cool coins). I noted for next time to bring a dog to really bump up my coin collection.

Regardless of the place being on fire business-wise, the meals arrived in a timely manner and were as pretty as a picture. I’m going through a ‘stack’ phase, which only today I related back to my inability to put clothes away when they start to pile up. Instead I stack them to the side of the bed and hope that when I awake in the morning one of my cats has popped them all away. I now have 9 stacks in my room. So to continue the ‘stack’ trend I ordered the Pepper Stack consisting of smoked salmon, homemade potato latkes ($10 for whoever knows what this actually is), sautéed spinach, poached egg and tomato relish. It came out and was almost too beautiful to eat. Of course I did though. And I ate all of it. Because I’m a pig.

The egg was pretty well cooked and splattered over the rest of the dish when I cut into it. The potato thingamebobs were actually kind of like rosti, but thinner and crunchier. I’m not usually a fan of relish, but the relish Pepper dished up is a far cry from the relish you buy your Nanna when you can’t think of anything else to buy (you know she doesn’t eat relish, right? It’s a shitty present so stop giving it). If I could buy this relish in a 40 kilo jar I would, and then I’d put it all in my bathtub and bathe in it. Forever.

The place was packed and really loud, and I suggest that if you’re hard of hearing that you bring you ear horn and megaphone. It can get a bit crazy loud in there with all the people and coffee and cutlery cleaning. I hear Kylie Minogue isn’t a fan of metal clinking against metal. So maybe she shouldn’t come here on a busy day. Or maybe just phone ahead and let them know she’s coming so they know not to clink. I mean, chances are they’ll be totally fine with not cleaning spoons for half an hour. That’s my assumption, anyway. Regardless, it’s worth sitting through a bit of cutlery clinking for the great service and food Pepper offers. But if Kylie Minogue really does ever rock up there can someone please let me know? Thanks.

*Nose dived for

Pepper on Urbanspoon

Robyn Box

About Robyn Box

I’m Robyn – a typical 30-something Melbournian. Most of my time is taken up being a Government office drone and an apathetic TV watcher, but occasionally I break out of the excitement of everyday life to dress my cat up in humiliating costumes, buy my niece and nephews expensive gifts in the hopes they pin me as ‘best Aunty’, wear amazing shoes that render me cripple within 60 minutes and eat foods that will no doubt bring on early cardiac arrest. Then occasionally I write about it. Find me on Twitter


  1. Franklin


    I somehow came across your blog while checking out my subscription blog of Paris Patisseries, and I’m very glad that I did. You’ve done a good job of reviewing this cafe. Your writing style and clarity make me want to read on more. I used to co-own a cafe in Vilnius, Lithuania but I now live in Istanbul. I only wish we oculd have had the funds and creativity to come up with such breakfast dishes. In some places, breakfast is not a meal that is served in restaurants. In Japan, it was very hard to find breakfasts, and at first in Vilnius, the same. There’s room for having fun with menus without drowning food in syrup (I’m American). While I will get up extra early to have a hot breakfast when I’m in Vienna, and I’d like to have more of teh same for lunch, I can’t get that excited about the staple here in Turkey. There is a sameness to it wherever you go, unfortunately. I’ve been invited to be a food critic for a blogger who lives across town (Istanbul is a huge metropolis, so I’d cover the Asian side), and I would take your style and approach as a model. Super job, keep it up!

    • Robyn


      What a lovely compliment! Thanks Franklin :) I’m visiting Istanbul in October this year so hope to see your work around town when I get there! Robyn