The Federal Coffee Palace in any other city would belong to tourists. We evidently don’t share as it’s generally locals stepping away from the hustle and bustle of Elizabeth St who end up grabbing coffee or a quick bite here.
Tucked on the side of the GPO the cafe itself is small and unassuming, what makes it rock is the outdoor seating in the GPO verandah. It’s a beautiful place to sit and sip a coffee or catch up with friends under the softly glowing arches with sunlight (if you are lucky) streaming in. It’s one of those places where people are as likely to be solo as in a set as they take advantage of the seats, benches and low tables as they enjoy all that this palace has to offer.
I grabbed their vegetarian baguette which was good but until what stood out – it’s all about the chewy and grainy and delicious the bread was.
The name is taken from the old Federal, a temperance hotel. These hotels were dubbed Coffee Palaces as there was not a lick (or sip) of alcohol in sight. Built in 1888 on the corner of Collins and King St this was one of the grandest hotels in Melbourne (the only one remaining is now called The Windsor – you know the divinely Historic and bar and hotel over on Spring).
This is a picture of the original Federal. Isn’t it gorgeous? Sometimes I really wish I could wander around Melbourne as it was back then. Just for a little while.