Along the upper end of Boundary Street, just beyond the Vulture Street crossroads lies Higher Octave Coffee Shop. Heading in, the coffee shop feels relaxed and down to earth, with its walls tastefully decorated with art and photos, along with some smooth jazz playing in the background. Having opened last August it is still fairly new to the West End scene, although it was a cafe before owner, Kenji Wilkins, took the place over.
The Sydney-born 21 year old grew up in Japan, where he worked at a sushi restaurant, before moving back to Australia five years ago. Upon his return, he moved to Cairns, where he worked at a French restaurant. These restaurant experiences have helped inspire Higher Octave’s menu, featuring dishes from across the globe, including Japan, France and Italy. Facing tough competition, Kenji strives to do things differently. “I always try and do something different,” he explains shyly. This difference, serving paninis and burgers along with the typical baked goods of muffins, cakes and scones certainly does pay off. The teriyaki burger I had was sweet and succulent, thanks to the homemade sauce, making it all the more special. Using organic produce wherever possible, a lot of the ingredients are also made by hand, ensuring the best flavours – which does make this place popular. “We’re getting busier and busier,” Kenji told me. Another grabbing point behind Higher Octave is their regularly changing homemade jams, with the range of five changing almost everyday. “Our scones and jams are getting famous,” Kenji states proudly, impressed to see his hard work is paying off.
Along with the great food on offer comes some tasty coffee too. Made from Caffe Silipo’s Nero blend, an Italian-styled 100% Arabica blend, it makes for a rich and smooth coffee, with a fairly strong chocolate undertone. Kenji, having been making coffees for a number of years now, showcases his artistic personality in the form of latte art, a fun way of making your coffee all the more enjoyable.
Higher Octave is open Tuesday to Sunday, from 7:30am-4pm Monday to Saturday, and 7:30am-2:30pm on Sunday. Over the weekend, during the afternoon, live jazz musicians play. Higher Octave also serves as an exhibition space for local artists.
Images by Kymberley Rauber