287 Coventry Street (rear)
South Melbourne, VIC
(03) 9690 2688
The only downside to throwing back a cheeky meal or two (or three) is the spasm of guilt you feel afterwards. I’ll work it off at the gym tonight, you tell yourself. And then, of course, you find some pathetic excuse not to go and instead indulge in something outrageous. Like a pint of ice cream. No? OK, maybe that’s just me.
Anyhoo, with the turn of the season and a new spring in my step (oh yes, I did just say that), brunch buddy C and I decided to make the most of yesterday’s blue skies and took a half walk/jog around Albert Park Lake. We ended up making idle chitchat with the swans and laughed our heads off watching a psycho dog jump into the lake after a defenceless seagull and…yep, I’m getting off topic.
After establishing that we were both past the tummy rumble stage and well into ‘will kill for food’ territory, we stopped by South Melbourne first for brunch. Chez Dré has been on my go to list for quite some time now. I’ve read so many glowing reviews about them and can now say that I’ve popped my Chez Dré cherry. Finally!
Like St ALi, Chez Dré is one of those cafes you can easily miss if you’re not trying to hunt it down in the first place. The cobble-stoned pathway ushers you into a bright and trendy space, with an open kitchen floor plan, green leather-upholstered booths and vibrant floral arrangements scattered throughout. There’s also an outdoor seating area, which, when we arrived, was full of hungry lunch-goers enjoying the freakishly awesome Melbourne weather.
C and I made our way to the counter and were told we could sit wherever we wanted. The waiters were super friendly. They happily gave us their brunch recommendations and checked in with us every once in a while. I can only imagine how busy they’d be on weekends because Mondays at Chez Dré are pretty happening. There was just enough activity to distract us from the sound of chewing our own food, but not so much that we had to yell at each other over the din of cutlery and conversation.
On to the menu! The hot chocolate looked pretty good on paper (single origin ‘Madagascar’, 64%), but I’m not sure the real thing lived up to its name. I’m on an unofficial hunt of sorts for Melbourne’s best hot chocolate and Huff’s and Lindt are still my top contenders by far. Unfortunately, Chez Dré didn’t make the cut. Ours were wishy-washy and underwhelming, and a little more lukewarm than hot, which I couldn’t help but make a face at. Disappointing stuff.
Thankfully, the food was a different story. Maybe it was because we were beyond hungry by this point, but holy guacamole, these guys have brunch down. I had the Moroccan-baked eggs with spicy herb lamb sausage, minted yogurt and baguette (17.5). Google search ‘om nom nom’ and this will be the first picture up there. The eggs were soft and gooey, the sausage had just the right amount of kick and the yoghurt added a refreshing component to the dish. The crusty baguette mopped up the tomato and capsicum salsa beautifully.
C went with the sautéed mushrooms on sourdough with Yarra Valley Persian feta and a poached egg (17.5). I love anything with mushrooms, and this number ticked all the right boxes. The mushrooms and Persian feta absolutely burst with flavour, and splitting the poached egg was like watching Mount Vesuvius erupt. C and I sat there like morons; heads tilted and mouths agape as the yolk worked its magic.
Naturally, we couldn’t leave without paying a visit to the dessert bar. Each piece on the marble-top display was a marvel. And they were offering free samples! Score! We tasted bits of the caramel dome, hazelnut macarons and blackcurrant macarons, which were all amazing. I couldn’t wipe the silly grin off my face.
We were eager to get going and soak up some sunshine before the weather pulled a 180 (as it so often does here), so we took a few goodies home. C settled on a coconut and a caramel macaron (3.0 each). Meanwhile, I watched in horror as the waiter behind the counter took the last salted caramel éclair (8.5) to the table behind us. Noooo, I yelled in my head, but I spared C (and everyone else in our vicinity) the theatrics and bought a chocolate éclair to give to my sister instead. Yum! I also picked up a chocolate tart (8.5); decadent layers of ganache and mousse encased in a crumbly pastry shell and topped with gold leaf. Eating it (actually, guzzling it down would be a more accurate description of how it ended up in my belly) probably rendered our earlier attempt at exercise futile, but hey, can you blame me? 😉