Café la terra, at the corner of Campbell st and Johnston st Collingwood. The décor is slovenly and disorganized, but the staff are not correspondingly friendly and easygoing.
I wandered in on a cold Melbourne night and saw 'English Tea' on a handwritten menu by the front counter. (A bunch of people were eating at a table further back in what seemed like a family atmosphere; encouraging.) The chairs looked comfortable and I had been walking around the worser parts of Collingwood in the dark for some time, so I asked a girl who came purposefully up to me for a cup of tea.
'Tea?' She looked baffled. 'I will have to ask,' she lisped. So she asks and yes, it appears I can have tea.
Well, we shall see.
From the pile of lemons and knick-knacks on the counter the woman in charge asks if I want milk. I do. When my tea comes it is of course a pot of hot water, and a bag of some no-name brand in the cup.
I anticipate a quick getaway so I say; I will pay now. $3.00 is the advertised price. But no, the girl with too many teeth in her lower jaw says $3.50.
It says $3.00 on the menu I say. Mum behind the lemon piles says 50 cents is for the milk.
Fifty cents for milk is simply outrageous, I say, having as recently as last summer bought a small carton of milk for $1.00.
In any case, the tea was undrinkable, and I lay a spinster's curse on Café la terra.