Chez Dré / South Melbourne
I’ve walked past Chez Dré a few times, gazing at the beautiful gold signage from my favourite pub next door. I’ve been meaning to blog about this place for a while, because it’s listed number 3 on Urbanspoons’ ‘talk of the town’ list.
They have two entrances off Coventry St in South Melbourne, I prefer the narrow laneway closer to Cecil Street because it is so much more mysterious & exciting when you’re walking through a dead-end Melbourne alleyway.
Being listed as one of Melbourne’s hotspots, you’re chances of getting a table without waiting is slim to nothing. We only had to wait 10 minutes. Their inside seating is simple and modern, they have booths which are intimate, a main area with a vibrant communal table, and also an outdoor courtyard (the other entrance) which is lovely on a sunny day. Overall this place has a very nice modern-sheek-french vibe to it.
There are a lot of hard workers in the kitchen. I would know because I was one of them. For one day. I didn’t do very well, managed to chop my finger within the first 5 minutes as a kitchen hand. You gotta be quick and sharp in the kitchen, looks like the knife was quicker and sharper than me that day.
They have an all day breakfast menu with some great dishes. I got a feel of what the best dishes were after working here. I would recommend the duck sandwich, grand petit dejeuner, and the cured salmon, but remember to save room for dessert.
When I first ate here, I got the wild field mushrooms on toast. I felt like I was trapped in a mushroom forest, with no way to escape but to eat my way through. The mushrooms were seasoned nicely, though goats cheese and sourdough was not enough to save me from feeling like I was buried with mushrooms.
My bestie Andrew got poached eggs on toast with a side of salmon - delicious and simple. The kitchen do a great job of poaching the eggs so that the egg whites are fluffy and cloudy without compromising the yolkporn goodness.
Nick got a delicious but simple looking chicken baguette. Sometimes I think Nick orders dishes with rocket just so I don’t eat his food.
The second visit to Chez Dré, I got the cured salmon with soft boiled egg, goats cheese, dill & sourdough croutons. The dish was smaller/lighter than expected, but it was amazing.
Delicious delicate flavours all combining beautifully in the mouth. It had everything I wanted, freshness, lightness, flavour, crunch. It only left me wanting more.
Nicholas my manly man got the Ploughmans lunch. Take a deep breath because the list is long. Baguette bread with smoked ham, salami, gruyére, brie, cornichons, mustard, pickles, beetroot salad, savoury tart, and a macaron.
This dish was a ‘take your time’ kind of lunch. I don’t know how Nick did it, I mean he had to decide what to have first and then do the manual labour of applying it onto the bread. I’m joking of course but I did feel like I was about to devour my meal before he could finish a piece of cheese. Lucky I got to help him out. Ploughman’s lunch – simple and cute, but i’m not sure it was worth the $25.50
Chez Dré is also create amazing house-made french style sweets. If you have the slightest sweet tooth, you will not, and should not be able to leave without trying some of these cakes.
The lemon meringue tart had a deliciously zesty filling with a balanced sweetness with a nice crunchy pastry.
Salted caramel eclair. This was luscious, soft and melted in my mouth. I just thought it was a tad buttery/creamy which took away the richer salted caramel flavour I was expecting.
They also do some freaking great flavours of macrons and other treats you can take home for afternoon tea or a cheeky pick-me-up. I was craving the caramel dome but they sold out.
Verdict: The food is fairly expensive overall but some of those dishes are definitely worth the money. I was not blown away, but perhaps I was expecting too much from all the raving reviews. Enjoyed my time here as a customer, but not so much as a kitchen hand, but hey, my finger is all healed now.
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287 Coventry St (rear)
The Wise / Prahran
The Wise, hot new restaurant and tapas bar located just off Chapel Street in Prahran. Nick and I were privileged to get invited to the launch party to taste some sample dishes and enjoy a few drinks.
Erase and rewind was what we immediately felt when walking through the door. Cosy small venue, with a warm ambiance where you can easily tune out of what is going on around you, and tune in to what is happening inside.
I love the different variations of wood, the old books, and the vintage wallpaper interior.
We got to the party early which was fortunate as we got to quickly snatch the most comfortable seat in the house. Here I met fellow food blogger Ashley from I’m so hungree.
As the night progressed, The drinks started flowing, and I caught up with a few other bloggers including Alan from Almost Always Ravenous, Sarah from Style Melbourne, James from Ravishing Retail and Lexi from Retail Therapie. We were also pleasured to meet Kane from My Kitchen Rules, Kylie and Alice from Masterchef, Ben the winner of Big Brother, and a whole lot of other great people.
Drinks and celebrities aside, I came here to blog about the food. Off to a great start, as the first dish they served was a little out of the ordinary.
It was anchovy wrapped over an olive, roasted red pepper and baby gherkin. A daring yet quirky dish to start the party. I felt like I needed breath freshener after eating this, but luckily everyone was eating the same thing, so that wasn’t necessary.
Trio of dips, usually served with sourdough. Spanish tomato sauce with peppers and onions. Greek feta spread with green peppers and oregano. Venezuelan guacamole with avocado, tabasco, garlic and lemon. All very tasty and flavoursome.
It’s always hard to remember all the food you eat at a launch, especially when it’s not listed on the menu. I think this is some cheese and meat selected from the antipasto platter that is available. It tasted great and transitioned the tastebuds nicely before moving onto the heavier dishes.
Chorizo, grilled spanish sausage served with white wine sauce. A simple, but necessary dish when serving spanish tapas. They had a subtle but friendly kick to them, which got me a tad more excited than I should have been.
Croquettes, house made and filled with prosciutto and mussels in a béchamel sauce. I try to stay away from too much deep fried food, but these were so good I couldn’t resist.
At this point it gets a little bit blurry as the wines kept flowing and the food was going quick. Don’t judge me. With my guess this looks like either the omelette or the cheese. I’ll let you decide.
And this one is also the omelette or cheese, or something else… anyway it doesn’t matter as they were both delicious and i’m a great food blogger.
I do remember this though, the Ali-Oli Calimari - Marinated and grilled calamari served with aoli. The calamari aroma was quite pungent, in a good way (if you like calamari). The saltiness balanced out by the delicious creamy aioli.
Nick got a tad distracted at the bar while I was getting fed. He missed out on this great Greek Moussaka - sautéed eggplant layered with potatoes, ground beef, topped with béchamel sauce was divine. One of my favourites of the night.
Marinated rockling fillets lightly fried with aioli. Not too fishy, crunchy outside, soft inside. It’s not too healthy because it’s fried, but it’s not too unhealthy because it’s fish. A pleasing dish for all me thinks.
Handmade lamb meatballs pan fried served in almond sauce. Fragrant, delicious, I think I ate it all in one gulp. Oops.
Potatoes Bravas - Sautéed garlic potatoes served in a traditional brava sauce. These were very tasty and super addictive. Cut into the cutest bite size pieces.
Aragonese style pan fried chicken pieces with tomato, onion and rosemary in a white wine sauce. Tender, soft and flavoursome. It doesn’t have that usual ‘crunch’ you get with BBQ’ed chicken nibbles, but the softness allows the great flavour to shine through.
The Wise is a great place for breakfast, lunch or dinner. They have the menu and environment to satisfy any occasion. All the food was tasty and goes great with alcohol - which of course they have a great wine list, cocktails and need I mention, Sangria Sundays.
Disclaimer: The images and descriptions of the dishes might be a little inaccurate at some points, but the experience was not. I had a great time and the vibe throughout the whole night was great. Huge thanks to Jess and Greg the owners of The Wise, and SilverLeafPR.
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The Wise Tapas Bar and Restaurant
173 High Street
Auction Rooms / North Melbourne
Auction Rooms has been known to deliver the best coffee in Melbourne. It was a small trek – located in North Melbourne, a quiet area that didn’t seem to have much to offer.
Upon arrival, I immediately knew it was going to be a cool café by the cute little tea pots, rustic wooden tables, and the bunch of hippie staff.
A beautiful conversion of the old WB Auction House, the Auction Rooms has a beautiful rustic feeling with the smell of delicious coffee and a touch of nature.
Lovely open space with invigorating natural light. The ambiance was peaceful, the service was friendly and lucky for us - it wasn’t too busy. People have said you have to line up for hours to get a seat.
They have a great selection of drinks, coffee and alcohol. They stop serving the coffee after 5pm and move towards the stiffer drinks. Unfortunately I didn’t stay that late. The menu also offers great food with a unique spin on everything. I wanted everything.
After a delicious espresso cappuccino, I had to give their filter coffee’s a try. They had some very cool Japanese baristas working their magic in their laboratory. I tried a couple of different Syphon coffee’s, one called “Falda Grande” and the other: “Golden Ticket.” Both by Small Batch, delicious and served perfectly.
The Falda Grande was light and smooth while The Golden Ticket had a fruity punch, balanced by a fuller body and sweetness. I preferred the Golden Ticket, mostly because it had a cooler name.
House made banana and walnut bread with espresso butter and maple syrup. Served lusciously soft, this was probably the best banana bread I have ever tasted. The espresso butter definitely brought this dish up to a whole new level.
Salmon on house-made rosti and kale. I really enjoyed this dish, especially the kale. It added fabulosity.
I noticed they had some delicious looking cakes/slices too. I didn’t get anything as I saw a few flies trying to devour them which put me off, plus I felt fat enough already.
The Auction Rooms has excellent coffee, great food, and amazing Aesop hand soap in the bathroom! Definitely worth the trek, i’ll be back to try more.
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107 Errol St
Boat Builders Yard / South Wharf
This eatery screams rustic with a comforting, warm and inviting environment. Located just around the corner from me, in the South Wharf promenade, I can easily see this place turning into my ‘local’ for summer.
This place has an exuberant balance of romanticism, quality and trendiness while remaining on earth. The inviting nature of this place makes it suitable to meet up with friends, go on a casual date with a few beers or dine alone.
Outdoor area open and refreshing, great for smokers and/or drunk people - but hey, everywhere is good for drunk people. A large area to stretch your legs, or invite your friends.
I think advertising on bicycles is the new thing, I mean who doesn’t love bicycles?
A great variety of seating options. Cute rustic waterside seating. I sat here with my partner on a warm evening with a cold beer, absolute bliss. Careful not to have too many beers, you could fall into the Yarra and die.
Food pick up station. I love the anticipation of waiting for my ‘waiting disk’ to beep to notify my food is ready. It has some sort of futuristic feel along with a sense of accomplishment, even though there is nothing for me to accomplish, I just sat on my ass.
The inside café, decked out with the remains of the old boatbuilders yard it use to be. Simple interior with little details which adds a sense of uniqueness and approachability.
The inside of the café is nice and cosy, with a log fireplace and friendly staff. If you are lucky enough to get a seat by the fire on a cold day, I would recommend you stay forever. If you’re stuck in the rain, The Boatbuilders Yard kindly offers you their umbrellas to borrow.
Cabinet food looked great too. Unsure what those white packages are, perhaps some sort of spring roll or something. Anyway, it looked delicious.
The bar is super cool, decent size but I guess it has to be for such a large venue. Great thing they have eftpos/pay pass too.
Bacon and egg roll, as advertised on the bicycle. Cabinet food but I think the staff made it fresh. Cheap but hearty and mighty delicious.
Poached eggs on toast with thick cut bacon and a hash brown. The bacon and the hash brown are pure quality and full of flavour.
I was a fatty and got the Boatbuilders Breakfast, Eggs, Tomato, Cheese Kransky, Thick Cut Bacon, Hash Brown, Mushroom. Delicious, and being such a manly dish, I think it increased my testosterone/manly level.
Unfortunately they don’t do all day breakfast; however they have a delightful lunch menu.
Chicken ciabatta roll available from the cabinet. Something lighter so you don’t feel too gluggy when you enjoy it with a nice cold beer.
Beef Bourguignon Pot Pie, Peas, Potato & Parsnip Puree. Parsnip puree delectable. Everything cooked beautifully. Fresh vegetables make for a less guilty dish, although it still would be brilliant without.
Battered Flathead Fillets, Chips, Coleslaw, Tartare Sauce. This was the guilty dish, however sometimes when you’re by water you crave these things. Deep fried deliciousness. There is also a lump of coleslaw hiding at the back there to refresh that dirty palate.
Braised Rabbit - Pancetta, Shallots, Winter Veg. Absolutely delectable, tender meat falling off the bone, full of flavour and warmth.
They also have a mini-bar outside too with delicious organic sausages. You can choose either prime beef, lamb merguez, duck and pistachio or vietnamese pork roll.
I got the duck and pistachio sausage, delicate rich flavour. The mustard and tomato sauce was ‘self service’ hence why it looks so shit. The sauce also did not compliment the sausage that well, perhaps a relish would have been nice. For $9 you can’t really complain though. It was the perfect afternoon snack.
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The Boatbuilders Yard is a great place to relax and catch up with friends, suitable for a lot of occasions breakfast/coffee/lunch/bar however, everything is self service. You have to order at the bar, water is available from the ‘water station’, you pick your food up from the ‘food pick up station.’ and you have to eat the food yourself. It’s a good trade off for excellent food and a great vibe.
The Boatbuilders Yard
03 9686 5088
23 South Wharf Promenade
South Wharf, VIC 3006
Common Galaxia / Seddon
Common Galaxia, Dead Man Espresso’s brother café from the future.
This place meets the benchmark Dead Man Espresso has given. It has a very similar vibe but an evidently different character. Great menu selection, unique dishes but you can’t really go wrong with any of them.
This table caddy was just too cute I could not resist.
Great coffee, same as Dead Man Espresso - Seven Seeds or Market Lane. I got the Market Lane, tastes better in my opinion.
Istra prosciutto baked eggs w caramelised shallots, 3 cheeses, wilted greens & toast. Cooked to perfection, the delicious flavours in a cute dish. They ran out of sourdough so served with pumpkin bread instead; no complaints here, the pumpkin bread was delicious.
Pikelets w apple curd, rhubarb & vanilla bean dulce de leche. I die for these, so freaking good, and only $13. I only got a spoonful, but i’m definitely ordering this next time i’m here.
Avocado on pumpkin toast w chickpeas, pomegranate gems, chevre, pistachios & radish. This was beautiful, the pomegranate complimented and added another dimension to smashed avocado, as if you were in another galaxy.
Oven baked zucchini fritters w house cured juniper berry salmon or Istra bacon, poached egg & lemon creme fraiche. I ordered this dish, it was delicious. I love the fact that it was oven baked, a much healthier option.
My stomach was satisfied, however I was craving the Baked Apple on the menu, looks delicious. I will definitely be back to try more.
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03 9689 0769
Shop 3/130 Victoria St
Seddon, VIC 3011
Cafe Sweethearts / South Melbourne
Cafe Sweethearts no assholes allowed. This café has a fun loving vibe.
Grab an outdoor seat if it’s a sunny day, the air is fresh in South Melbourne.
Inside aint too bad either. The large window gives us enough sunshine and vitamin D for our Sunday recovery meal.
An eggstravagant menu, with a great selection of egg dishes amongst other choices.
I like the coffee, just the thing I needed to wake me up on a lazy Sunday.
Blueberry Pancakes, soft and luscious.
Salmon stack, my dish of choice. It was delicious, however I was unable to finish it because I was so full/hungover.
Mexican eggs with rosti. Superb.
Chicken and bacon foccacia. Tasty tasty.
A sweet place that will warm your heart with brunch, if you’re a sweetheart you will fit in just fine.
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03 9690 6752
South Melbourne 3205
263 Coventry St
My Sista Says / Port Melbourne
My Sista Says… well, I haven’t spoken to my sisters in a while. This café is teeny tiny but makes up for it with a cute and cosy environment.
A great atmosphere with a young vibe, a nice communal bench right next to the kitchen and counter. No walls which makes me feel naked, but I like it.
Funky lamps popping out of the wall for those who need extra light to read the Wallpaper* City Guides or other books they have lying around. I couldn’t keep my eyes off the city guides.
The staff were very friendly and brought a great positive vibe to the place.
They utilize their space well, and still manage to keep the place aesthetically pleasing.
Delicious coffee and a beautiful selection of food on the menu.
Poached eggs on toast with spinach, mushrooms and tomato - simple but delicious.
Dukkah poached egg, spinach with smashed avocado and feta brilliantness. Delicious healthy and light.
Poached egg on toast with ham and tomato.
We were full after brunch so didn’t order any cakes; but my god they look delicious. Will have to come back another day.
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My Sista Says/My Sister Says
03 9646 1117
118 Bridge Street
Dead Man Espresso / South Melbourne
Dead Man Espresso is one of my favorite local cafe’s just around the corner. He is hiding away on a secluded corner in South Melbourne, yet everyone knows where he is. This gem of a café has critics, bloggers, hipsters and normal people alike creaming themselves.
I love how I can ride my bike, park it up and walk right in with extra swag. At least I think I have swag, but it’s probably just helmet hair.
Quirky light fittings with elegant and simple décor. Modern and hip.
As mentioned; critics, bloggers, hipsters and normal people creaming themselves. No, seriously, this place is often full but I have been lucky enough to get a seat every visit. Well worth the wait.
Even the cabinet food looks alright, catering for those in a rush or those unlucky ones who missed out on a seat.
Vibrant flowers lighten up the room and make me feel happy, it’s probably going to do the same to you.
Delicious coffee, they have two blends available. Seven Seeds (house) or Market Lane (special). Both are delicious.
Freerange eggs on toast. Simple and light, for the conservative or the one with the weak stomach.
Avocado on Zeally Bay Organic toast with chevre, grapefruit, toasted almonds & radish. Delicious combination of flavours, fresh and vibrant.
Big breakfast special - poached egg, baked beans, bacon, toast, tomato, mushrooms, sausage. Hearty breakfast that will either satisfy or dis-satisfy your stomach. A good hangover meal.
Herb and potato rosti with poached egg, avocado and smoked salmon. loved the rosti, delicious and filling without being too heavy or bland.
Buttermilk banana pancakes with Melbourne Rooftop Honey mascarpone & white choc crumb. Delicate and unique elements that all compliment each other.
After enjoying such lovely meals at this wonderful café, I just wanted to take it home with me. Well, it turns out I can! You can buy Melbourne Rooftop Honey here or Dead Man Espresso coffee beans, tea towels and other merchandise. I really like this place. Not particularly for the food, not for the coffee, nor the environment, but for all of the above.
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Dead Man Espresso
03 9686 2255
35 Market St
Melbourne, VIC 3205
Plantation / Melbourne
Whilst walking through Melbourne Central, this beautiful typeface caught my eye. Instead of pulling my phone out to discover “what the font,” I got a coffee instead.
Despite being in a food court, Plantation cafe seems to have a semi-decent character/feel. The staff are really cool too, down to earth, have a good sense of humor AND good looking.
With specialty coffee and neat branding, this cafe is the perfect getaway from the monotonous hours of retail therapy.
It’s great because the kitchen separates/hides you away from all the commercial chaos.
Tucked away in a little booth with fresh flowers, a nice little spot to pass time.
A carrot cupcake, pretty dry and average tasting but at least it was pretty.
Escape Melbourne Central inside Melbourne Central - Plantation.
Las Vegan Bakery / Melbourne
Las Vegan Bakery is a cute little bakery/restaurant that only serves vegan food!
Warm cozy atmosphere, with lots of plants inside for the nature lovers. Vintage/cheap furnishings which adds to the ‘real/authentic’ ethical conscious feeling.
A good selection on the menu, soups, calzones, burritos, burgers and heaps of desserts/cakes.
Soy cappuccino. Meh.
Sloppy Joe Burger, with chips and salad. The burger was tasty and flavorsome. The salad and chips were pretty bland and boring though.
Vegan Nachos with black beans. Pretty good, tasted like normal nachos without the beef and without cheese.
Delicious burrito, flavors exploding out of it. Oily but tasty.
Vegan food is good for you, for animals, and the environment. Las Vegan one of a few vegan restaurants in Melbourne.
Las Vegan Bakery
22 Smith Street
Black Betty / Christchurch
Black Betty is another amazing post-earthquake restaurant that has erected. Serving great food and great coffee in a trendy environment. Located close to, what is left of the CBD. Gutted I forgot to take pictures of the place. It was packed.
Creamy garlic mushrooms, baby spinach, on toasted ciabatta topped with ricotta. Flavorsome and juicy, loved the garlic/ricotta/spinach/mushroom combo. A delicious light meal leaving me feeling a little bit healthy.
Black Betty’s Big Breakfast with two eggs, crispy bacon, sausages, mushrooms, slow roast tomato, homemade hash browns with a side of toast. They didn’t have hash browns today so they gave Kent some baked beans instead. He also got an iced chocolate, surprised this boy didn’t explode. Great food. Great environment. Greatness all round.
165 Madras Street
Jungle Cup / Christchurch
Jungle Cup, a cool little make-shifty christchurchy pop-upy cafe.
Very junkyardy industrial feel.
Unfortunately we were after a decent breakfast, and the counter here looked very cheap and tuckshoppy. Would be nice if they had a better kitchen.
Joe’s Garage / Christchurch
Joe’s Garage is an iconic NZ cafe chain with a great character and reputation.
At the entrance of Joe’s (Church Corner) you will find this interesting pedestrian crossing that leads to nowhere in particular.
A warm ambiance. Toy trucks, brick walls, friendly smiles and cool lampshades.
A simple selection on the menu, pretty decent and affordable. I just got a coffee, but the food looked pretty good too. Next time.
Addington Coffee Co-Op / Christchurch
Addington Coffee Co-Op is my second home in Christchurch. I got introduced to this lovely place during design college 2008. Ever since it’s been my ‘Christchurch’ regular.
Hanging bicycles, flags of the world, vintage tea spoons and milk bottles are just a few of the quirky embellishments lurking around in this social conscious cafe.
I use to go to the laundr-o-mat to do my laundry, with a cappuccino and my diary. It reminded me of how simple life really was. Now they have opened up a shop as well! The Addington Store sells great products, a lot of which is fair trade and organic.
Field mushrooms on linseed toast with spinach and hollandaise sauce. Divine fresh ingredients and flavour but the hero was the hollandaise. Mouth blowing.
Big breakfast with grilled tomatoes, bacon, hash brown, sausages, and two perfectly poached eggs. Delicious, perfect way to start your day.
I love Addington Coffee Co-Op. It seems to be a bit more polished and brushed up a bit since I left. (6 months ago.) I kind of liked the grungier character it use to have but it’s still an amazing place and that’s what matters.
Addington Coffee Co-Op
Pepperberry / Christchurch
Pepperberry is a gorgeous little cafe and florist, quite an interesting mix but it seems to work very well.
It has a nature friendly ambiance exaggerated with cute decor and white-picket-fence vintage vibe.
I loved being surrounded with fresh flowers in this simple little cafe.
WARNING! You might get tempted to buy some flowers. (If you had someone to buy flowers for.) #foreveralone
Delicious coffee, and beautiful flowers!
Andrews smoked salmon bagel. I think he liked it.
Soup of the day - Chicken and Vegetable. I wanted something light as I was just about to have lunch with a friend, and this was perfect.
Pepperberry Cafe and Florist
(03) 377 0443
919 Colombo Street (Corner Bealy Ave)