Mon – Sun: 7am – 4pm
Coffee: Rotating selection of roasters
“‘Brunch in Bentleigh East! Gees that’s keen,’ was the common reaction when I told my friends of my latest brunch adventure. From inner city Melbourne,
it’s a large commitment for food and coffee (forty minute bike ride to be precise!). With the current Melbourne residential layout, there is a growing trend for purchasing (affordable) homes near the suburb of Brighton. As young blood is injected into the region, there is an increasing demand for a decent brunch that mirrors the quality of inner city Melbourne.
The Merchants Guild in East Bentleigh might only be a year old, but its set up and decor rivals most inner city cafes. There is a clean industrial theme throughout the long dining space with features of minimalist wood work. The decor and cleanliness provides a strong coffee roastery vibe, catering for small and large groups.
The weekend brunch offerings are impressive. Each dish is unique which is rarely seen in a suburban cafe. With a number of great options, I put my faith with the staff to suggest their favourite – Short cut bacon with an avocado and charred corn salsa on sourdough with eggs and jalapeno pesto [$18].
I had a single origin long black while I waited. It had highlights of pleasant earthy/nutty flavours. It had a lovely clean finish with a balanced coffee head.
There have only been a few occasions where I’ve had food envy across the table. Each dish looked stunning. They were creatively executed and demonstrated a push to use ingredients not typically synonymous with brunch.
The deconstructed presentation of my dish allowed me to experience each component and build on the flavours – a personal favourite of mine. The jalapeno pesto had delightfully strong heat and had a crunchy element to it that went well with the bacon. The charred corn added to the smashed avocado not only added a natural sweetness to the dish but was refreshing with the avocado component. Adding poached eggs and bacon created a fantastic brunch dish that was both memorable and very satisfying.
The inevitable change in suburban demographics will in turn change our expectations of what the location can offer. The Merchant Guild is leading the trend that you don’t need to travel to inner city for a great brunch. Watch out lazy café owners, your days might be numbered!”
“Doughnut French Toast. Do I really need to say anything more?
The Merchants Guild is an incredible cafe find in the midst of old, dated shops in Bentleigh East dishing up some of the most interesting and exciting breakfast choices I’ve seen since Code Black. Brunch was with Carly, G and Mr LB on the
Monday of a long weekend. The wait to get in was about 20 minutes and we were seated in a lovely intimate booth for four.
I wasn’t in the mood for coffee and decided on the Cold Press Super Juice – carrot, pear, parsley, one dozen hand peeled red grapes [$8.50]. I have been reading about the benefits of cold press juice, which apparently retain more of the nutrients typically destroyed when prepared in a blender.
What I found interesting about this juice was that I could pick out each individual element starting with the carrots, moving through to the pear, followed through by the parsley which cut through the sweetness of the red grapes.
G ordered a single origin long black and I loved that his coffee came out with tasting notes.
My main- as you probably guessed- was the Doughnut French toast with vanilla mascarpone, peaches, berries and pistachios [$16.50]. It was incredible. It really was a doughnut in the shape of a loaf! There was something about the texture that was almost like brioche; slightly firm but very light. The mascarpone with vanilla bean was served cold which was just beautiful. The poached peach was firm yet soft and juicy. Overall, this dish was a winner.
Carly had the Eggs Panzanella. Toasted torn bread, jamon, basil, dehydrated cherry tomatoes and marinated white anchovies, dressed, tossed and served with two poached eggs [$18.50]. She loved the citrus in the tomatoes which she felt cut through the saltiness of the pancetta and egg yolk. Her only improvement point was she would have liked more anchovies, but that’s a contentious point and we could understand why the chef was cautious with the amount he used.G had Sweet pea smash and feta smashed on dark rye, Spanish sardines and a lemon and herb crumb [$15] add a poached egg [$17]. He thought the smashed sweet peas were really nice and the sardines were well prepared. He liked that herb crumbs were served on the side, allowing for the diner to adjust to taste. It was a nice additional texture. He found the mint refreshing against the flavours of the fish.
Overall I thought The Merchants Guild was an excellent find and I think it will quickly become my new south-side regular.”
Final Thought: “High quality, exciting brunch for the south-eastern suburbs”