I was going to start into a post about rationalisations, politics and all those serious issues that surround a person’s different identities and circles, but I honestly don’t have the energy for that this morning.
Instead, I give you the antidote to my previously haphazard Fridays, which often found me drunk as a fisherman before the sun would even go down: Tiny.
Tiny is the name of this seven-seater cafe, which is actually a nook underneath the stairs of a design firm in Collingwood, owned and run by Michael Pham. Foolscap are the architects who managed to squeeze everything in under the stairs. Luckily Pham is not a tall man, and from what I see, none of his staff are either. Many of you will probably know Pham as the banana-”kid” with the thick black-rimmed glasses, a camera with a nice piece of glass and a drink in one hand, photographing you at every party or opening worth going to.
And of course, at some stage, I either stopped caring about partying or Pham became a recluse.
We had crossed paths many a time but never properly met, and then, with the power of Facecrack, this happened:
I believe it was some time when I stupidly decided not to drink for a week, coinciding it with my friend’s bout of responsibility.
She lasted. I didn’t, but I bet that is no surprise to you.
Pham and I ended up meeting and he showed me Tiny before he even got any of his equipment. I believe the fridge arrived that morning and I advised him to turn it on to avoid the smell of stale grandparent underwear drawer.
Finally, Tiny opened, but I didn’t make it. In fact, I didn’t make it for the first few weeks of opening because I had convinced myself that if I trained twice on a Friday, then it would be alright to continue on my liquid diet for the entirety of the weekend. Oh, and then Pham got a concussion.
When I finally did make it, Pham did the worst thing he could do to a hyperactive child and fed me shot after shot of espressos before presenting the Pocket Rocket to calm me the fuck down.
The way Tiny’s menu works is that he has an all-day breakfast, a selection of 3-4 sandwiches and a couple of salads on rotation. Depending on how busy they are, he may also have a couple of specials and a full cabinet of baked goods which also change in accordance to his mood.
In case you were wondering, the Pocket Rocket is a cannellini bean salad with dill, gherkins, rocket, capers, mayo and a boiled egg. Basically, it’s a bowl of protein, and I think Pham’s got a grand experiment to turn me into some weird muscular hulk.
Or, he’s just being Asian.
In fact, we spend most of the time here making fun of our families and laughing at the Tiger Mom article with the guys from the design firm upstairs. We make it okay to be racist against Asians, apparently. And in case you are offended, I group Asians together, rather than being race specific, as Pham and I are different flavours of Asian.
Born of these times have been anecdotes of the stupid uncle who marries into the family(why is it always an uncle?), the effectiveness of not raising pussy children, fucklava (baklava), associations through alleged rumours and techniques of fattening up drunk people who you don’t like that end up in your house at the end of an evening.
The reason why I love this cafe isn’t just the size, the banter, the quality coffee, generosity, familiarity or the patrons it attracts; it is the completely unpretentious menu. On it, there are sandwiches with grilled bacon and HP sauce, a “mousetrap” breakfast sandwich of vegemite and cheese and as you can see above, a fish finger sandwich.
And what is more badass,
this is his kitchen and barista station. Some clever architecture, consideration and the willingness to saw through a shelf to fit in his grinder gives Pham many respect points from me.
Damn, I swept and mopped in there the other day and I had trouble maneuvering things around- I couldn’t imagine having two people in there at the same time without a fist or two being thrown.
Either way, being a dirty coffee fly has allowed me to befriend the people next to and above Tiny. I am a big fan of the triumvirate and if you’re ever in the area, you’d probably find me sitting here taking up more space than the kitchen with my kickboxing gear on a Friday afternoon.
My advice is to go to the Japanese Bath House next door, feel virtuous, get touched up and then pollute your body with a coffee and a touch of racism next door.
51 Cromwell St,
(what, you think they have a phone???)