Mon – Sun: 7:30am – 4:30pm
Coffee: Maling Room
“Specialisation is not a new buzz word. In fact its been lingering around in the shadows for some time, wanting to pop its head out. Specialisation is about really knowing the ins and outs of a particular area. Long have gone the days where a project has a clear A to B approach with a generalist team able to deliver the goods. Business factors have pushed (or more like shoved relentlessly) for a work force that is specialised. Each unit or small team is dealing with one piece of a larger, complex puzzle. There is certainly pros and cons with this approach and this concept is creeping its way more and more into the hospitality industry. Most notably is the distinction between chef and patisserie chef. The skill set required is poles apart but when these unlikely skills join forces in theory they should make an unstoppable cafe. Or does it? We decided it was time for South Melbourne’s Chez Dre to be tested on both ends of the spectrums.
The one factor of Chez Dre that makes me fall in love with it on every occasion is its space. It’s so large and grand with the right selection of furniture that matches the dark and light colour schemes of the different dining areas. The kitchen is visually appealing, covered by a beautiful curved wall with a large slit in the middle to observe chefs at work. On the other side lies the counter, with an inviting patisserie showcase to drool over. The high ceiling reduces the busy sounds of the environment, but at the same time retains a warm ambiance. With an additional outdoor cafe area, the space has not only been well thought out, but it is executed perfectly. It’s the perfect place if you want to impress someone.
My Single Origin Long Black – Ethiopia Guji [$4] was ordered and arrived in next to no time, as I considered my biggest decision for my Saturday. As Miss SL will mention, we have been to Chez Dre on many non-blog days and I have personally found their coffee at times to be under performing. Persistence and improvement is the key and I can say that Chez Dre’s game has lifted over time. It came out showcasing a rich, bold tanned head. On first sips it displayed a very crisp flavour with noticeable aromas of blueberry, raspberry and pineapple. With a combination like that I couldn’t help but love it. A crisp, fresh and slightly tangy coffee equals the right balance of flavours for me!
Apparently, the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Maybe not my heart, but I would reckon any mans-man who is given a big breakfast would be inches away. Given the hunger levels I was experiencing, I decided to go all out and order the Grand petit dejeuner – poached eggs on sourdough, bacon, spicy lamb sausages, potato rosti, sauteed mushrooms, smashed avocado with house fetta & tomato chutney [$19.50].
For a big breakfast, the plating was spot on. I instantly became the source of food envy. It was nice to see a big breakfast that had nice, considered plating. In terms of taste it was a good-all rounder, with the tomato chutney providing a great spicy kick with its rich, thick sauce that went well with the perfectly cooked bacon and fresh sourdough. The lamb sausages stuffed with fresh herbs were nice but didn’t lift the dish with its taste.
The potato rosti was certainly a good addition, breaking up the meat. It had a nice crispy crunch and wasn’t too oily. What was a let down were the mushrooms. They were slightly rubbery, shriveled and just tasteless. They didn’t add any value and in some way brought the dish down, a level. Other than the mushrooms, this dish was a well executed and yummy big breakfast.
I had convinced Miss SL that if we were at Chez Dre, then dessert is mandatory. Upon much debate we had decided to order and shared the Chocolate Tart [$8]. This glossy tart with its multiple layers was the perfect end to our meal. The mousse was rich and complemented the base biscuit beautifully. It was easy to pierce through and share. The tart was truly an experience I would recommend it to anyone, however, I was glad that I had shared it. A whole dessert may have been too much for me.
To visit and observe Chez Dre since its inception through to now, watching it achieve a high standard of food and sweets is something great to see. To create a truly special cafe with lasting memories isn’t something that is achieved by having a stagnant approach. Improvements are always needed and I’m sure when you visit Chez Dre, they will give you lots of love.
“Chez Dre is the epitome of Melbourne living. Walking passed a tiny laneway in South Melbourne, a curious little sign pokes out written in gold, luring the curious. Cute little baskets line the bare red-bricked wall and as you enter the space of this establishment your jaw will literally drop open.
The space is breathtakingly larger than what first meets the eye – as you walk through the narrow path filled with green booths, the space opens up in a beautifully wide-opened main dining hall action takes place. A curved blue-tiled wall frames the kitchen allowing food-goers to watch their meal being prepared, while the main counter hosts a range of incredibly well-made patisserie items which tease brunch-goers into submission. Your mind will become hypnotised by the colours, the shapes and the variety and before you know it – you’ve got an array of sweet-treats in front of you.
Mr LB and I have been to Chez Dre many times and have succumbed to munching on their infamous macarons and pastries.
On this occasion we were catching up with my two best friends – Toy and Elly. It had been a long time since I’d seen them both and we were gushing over recent events that had taken place in our lives. It was a lovely sunny day and we had managed to get a table immediately inside.
Having recently returned from Europe my eyes immediately fell for a French classic – Croque Monsieur – smoked ham, Gruyere & bechamel [$12], but I pulled myself away as I was trying to be on the healthy side. I instead opted for the Veggie petit dejeaner – poached eggs on sourdough, potato rosti, sauteed mushrooms, smashed avocado with house fetta & tomato chutney [$17.50] and a double espresso to start my day.
The thing about Europe that any coffee lover will soon discover is that, well, both breakfast and coffee over there sucks! The coffee is instant or burnt and bitter and there are no eggs, fresh avocado or veggies in sight on the menu. The only place I was able to find a mildly decent coffee was at Rome airport, and of course, London where many Australian cafe owners are beginning to set-up shop. As Chez Dre was my first brunch pit-stop once I’d returned, I’d cherished every last drop of my espresso. Pure. Heaven.
Elly had ordered some chamomile tea to go with her food. I loved the adorable little tea pot and milk container that came with it. Cute!
When my main came out I had mixed emotions – the potato rosti was a lot more delicious than anything I could have ever eaten in the passed month, however the top of it seemed a little greasy. Digging my fork into it revealed that the potato was cooked well and managed to maintain its shape. My mushrooms were rather underwhelming and didn’t seem to be seasoned with anything particularly flavourful. They were oily, a little shriveled and seemed to be missing the punch that cooking them in butter would have provided.
The tomato chutney was beautiful as always – little bits of real tomatoes provided the ‘freshly made’ experience. The star of this dish was truly the smashed avocado – fresh, tangy and zesty, it pretty much carried this entire dish into the good books.
Toy had ordered her standard Chez Dre brunch dish – Poached eggs on sourdough [$9] add Smashed avocado with house fetta [add $4.50]. She seemed quite pleased with herself.
Mr LB and I couldn’t go passed ordering dessert here. After all, that’s what they’re known for! There were so many good things to choose from, but we opted on the Chocolate Tart [$8]. When it came out it seemed to tease us. Perfectly coated ganache that was so shiny you could practically see your reflection on it. The tough, biscuit base secured the tart together and looked like it might be a challenge to crack through… but it wasn’t.
As I sliced my fork through the top layers, the tart gave way to a light, fluffy chocolate mouse that sat upon a beautifully made caramel. The base gave in to my fork and, without much trouble, allowed me to separate a slice of the tart. As soon as I put it in my mouth I felt that I was immediately transported to Edam, Holland.
When I was travelling in Europe I became ridiculously addicted to something called Bakker Jooper – a treat made of two finely-made crispy waffles joined together by a chewy caramel. This tart had a similar taste – caramel atop a crispy, compacted chocolate base that almost tasted like crushed brownies. I was in heaven and immediately felt like I’d been cheating myself all this time by not having any of Chez Dre‘s cakes earlier.
Overall, Chez Dre is a wonderful venue. It is opulent, efficient, has great coffee and excellent desserts. If you’re looking to do brunch there I’d recommend you stick to their sweeter menu items – after all, sweets are their specialty. This venue is definitely worth the visit and worth travelling to from any side of the river. Chez Dre is a cafe I regularly hit-up and recommend to you to try.”
Final thought: “Incredible sweets to try- from macarons to cakes, this place will tickle your fancy”