Melbourne has always had a heated love affair with coffee, and the arrival of Vacation Café in the city’s downtown district, a block east from the stately pile of the Flinders Street Railway Station, will do little to dampen the mood for a good cup of java. 

Local design studio Therefore gutted the former Mama Wong’s Chinese restaurant to create a stripped back austere space, the arched doorways and hard plastered walls adding an unexpected monastic vibe. White floor tiles with random pastel-coloured triangle corners and elongated steel joinery finished in pink and blue provide the high ceilinged volume with an intimate scale, while slender Mattiazzi chairs and angular Muller van Severen wall lamps add depth. 

The café’s location, meanwhile, makes it a convenient pit-stop for coffee on the way to the nearby Treasury and Fitzroy Gardens, though regulars stop by for a bag of fresh beans, and a side order of wagyu pastrami sandwich spiked with zucchini pickle and mayonnaise to go.