From fine dining to more casual fare, award-winning chef and owner Lorenzo Nobilio is loving the change of pace at his new hole-in-the-wall cafe, Ash & Monties in West End.

Open for about ten weeks, Ash & Monties has a friendly, laid-back feel and is focused on serving up food that is packed with flavour.

Lorenzo, with his best mate Richard Mastro, decided to open a cafe in an area they both loved — West End. Lorenzo actually grew up in the area and used to ride his bike around the streets, so for him, this has been a nostalgic experience. He only left the area a few years ago to be closer to Bistro Alegria, where he is head chef. But eventually, the pull was too strong and he returned to his roots.

Juggling both roles at Ash & Monties and over at Bistro Alegria means Lorenzi is a very busy man but he is loving it. At Alegria, the fine dining menu requires different skills and an intense approach. At Ash & Monties, Lorenzo has embraced a more relaxed attitude, with a menu that changes fortnightly and is largely built around the food he personally loves to eat.

Lorenzo describes the place as an “espresso bar with street food and a relaxed vibe”, where you can pop by for breakfast or lunch six days a week. Everything is made to order and Lorenzo is proud to point out that nothing is pre-made. “Yes, it might take a little longer to serve,” he concedes, “but the result will be worth it.”

You can expect to be eating something different every time you stop by with Italian, American, Colombian and Asian flavours incorporated, largely depending on Lorenzo’s mood.

The most popular item was the New York Cheeseburger but this has now been rotated off the menu. Lorenzo shares that it was such a hit that he kept it on the menu for weeks and weeks but he had to let it go to make way for some new dishes. But never fear, it may make a return at some point.

The cafe is simple but uses space efficiently, with high ledges built along walls to allow for somewhere to rest your coffee while you nibble on your freshly-baked croissant. Small low tables are dotted about on the pavement and there is a long bench seat inside so you can sit and chat to the barista while you wait for your coffee.

One of the stylistic elements that really stands out is the enormous mural above the entrance, created by local artist Gus Eagleton and commissioned by Lorenzo. The story goes that Lorenzo was driving home one day and saw Gus working on some street art under the Railway Bridge and immediately pulled over and chatted to the artist about painting something for his new cafe.

Make sure you click through the gallery above to see all the photos!

Ash & Monties can be found at 1A/304 Montague Rd, West End. For more info, check out our dining guide.

Have you stopped by Ash & Monties yet? Did you get a chance to sample the New York Cheeseburger? Let us know in the comments below…