Posted on March 3, 2011


5 years ago, heck even 2 years ago probably, I would have doubted the commercial sense of opening Olivessence (Shop 2/227 Barkly Street, Footscray VIC) in this location. But now, not so much. You see, lots of things have changed. Footscray is no longer society’s backwater where the druggies loiter. Given the recent housing affordability issues facing our fair city, young urbanites have started to look at Footscray very differently. Nowadays, it’s regarded as a cool suburb. Its proximity to the CDB and relatively cheap price tag along with the fresh food markets, great Vietnamese/African food make it a very appealing locality to reside in. And with the emergence of places like Olivessence, even more so.

Don’t get me wrong, great food has always been very easy to find in Footscray. Throw a rock and you’ll hit something: pho perhaps, or maybe you’d rather a Somalian feast or Chinese roast duck? But good coffee, now that’s a different story. Nice cafes for yuppies to dwell; suffices to say they have not yet become very prevalent in this part of Melbourne. A cute little coffee spot that happens to sell 100% Victorian extra virgin olive oils and other local produce like jams and sauces; now that’s a Footscray first on my count!

It’s a small nook set beneath the new Barkly Theatre apartments with a simple but effective decor. Small round tables fill the space and there’s even a couple of tables for outdoor seating. As you can see, there’s not much else along this strip of Barkly Street at the moment, but I can see more cafes and shops popping up soon. Watch this space.

Internally, the exposed brick wall makes for a nice feature, as do the selves of local goodies and glass contraptions for olive oil tasting. Coffee here is priced at $3.50, which surprised me a bit in all honesty. I’d expected it to be more around the $3 mark but whatever the case, the coffee is good. Their menu is small but that’s not a negative. Being the shop that it is, most of their menu is focused on antipasto type things. $8 will buy you this sharing plate of warm Lebanese bread, local extra virgin olive oil with balsamic glaze, dukka (Middle Eastern spiced nut/seed seasoning) and of course, olives. The balsamic glaze was really nice and while it looks like only a tiny amount, it was so favoursome that it was enough.

A quick read of the menu revealed that they have a preference to source things as locally as possible with all their baked goods coming from Footscray and surrounds. In fact their selection of Italian sweets (canolli, biscotti etc.) comes just down the road from the renowned Cavallaro’s. With environmental and ethical eating being all the rage now, locally sourced produce will only add to Olivessence’s appeal.

I’m on the bandwagon and I definitely want a closer look at some of their products, apparently they even sell a range of body oils and the likes.