The Armchair Collective
A beach café amid a chic home for chairs, flowers & homewares
Landscape designer and restaurateur Andrew Goldsmith and interior designer Pip Robb are slowly moving down the peninsula. In 2008 they opened Palm Beach’s The Boathouse, then helped launch Avalon’s Loaf Bakehaus in February, and have now opened the doors to The Armchair Collective – a furniture store doubling as a cafe – a few clicks further south in Mona Vale.
There’s no view of the ocean, but the beach vibe and coastal chic are enough. Baskets of shells and driftwood trays are piled beside boxes of candy-striped napkins, vibrant Turkish serving plates and pretty watermelon tumblers. There are also flowers aplenty, from potted pansies to an old bath planted with barren birch-like trees and a sink holding bunches of lilies. Everything is for sale.
As the name implies, there are also armchairs. Pip has a ‘sourcing team’ in Victoria on the lookout for chairs in need of rescuing. She then finds appropriate fabric and transforms them into contemporary treasures.
Chef Jean-Philippe Lessar is in the kitchen. Breakfast, for the virtuous, begins with fruit salad, yoghurt and honeycomb. For a pre- or post-surf there’s a takeaway bacon and egg roll with rocket and aioli, while lingering options include a Sonoma miche toast with labna, grilled leg ham, heirloom tomatoes, rocket and poached eggs.
Dining is spread across the store. There’s plenty of relaxed seating outside, plus a huge communal table and smaller tables along a banquette inside. A fridge in the corner houses milk, cheeses, grass-fed meats to take home and acclaimed Papanui open-range eggs.
By noon, a pretty char-grilled lamb salad with pomegranate is being delivered to tables, as are numerous beef burgers with housemade pickles, best accompanied by a bucket of hand-cut chips with harissa mayo. It’s all enough to even entice inner-city snobs to brave the bridge for a beach-loving brunch in the north.
Where: 9a Darley St East, Mona Vale
Phone: (02) 9999 2871
Hours: 7 days | 7.30am-3pm (until 4pm for coffee)