Mon – Fri 7am – 4pm
Sat – Sun 8am – 4pm
Coffee: Proud Mary
“It is already six months into 2014 and Melbourne’s brunch scene is still making leaps and bounds. We have seen and discovered some out-of-the-box brunch locations and concepts that has quenched Melbourne’s thirst for all things new. There has been a push for filter coffee in the CBD, better brunches in the ‘burbs and long-term pop-ups at soon-to-be construction sites and inner city apartment blocks. There is plenty of potential in Footscray and Brighton is now the home to one impressive burger. With such quirky outlets popping up it comes as a surprise that the people behind brunch hot spot – Stagger Lee’s – elected to open in the busy and well-known Brunswick Street, Fitzroy.
The joint venture of Stagger Lee’s combines forces from a number of talents, including: Proud Mary’s owner and previous general manager, former head chef of St Ali North Chris Hamburger and the quiet achiever of Melbourne’s café scene Mun Soon (Krimper) from MGS architecture. Adopting the bad ass/sticking to your guns theme inspired by 1900s pimp Stagger Lee (notoriously known for shooting a known associate for misappropriating his red stentson hat), Stagger Lee’s has obtained a liquor license with a plan to open this impressive space at night for drinks and nibbles.
Stagger Lee’s takes an interesting stance on coffee, scrapping the usual house blend roast. All coffees are single origins (including a Brazilian for milk coffee) and encourage brunchgoers to experience various flavour profiles. My long black [$3.80] was a well bodied coffee with a fruit-dominant flavour.
Across the floor, The Mexican – soft shell corn tortillas, charred corn and tomatillo salsa, avocado, fried eggs, crème fraiche and herbs [$16] was a favorite. I decided on the Mama’s Stack – Shaved corned beef, pressed potato, black cabbage, poached egg, white onion and parsley sauce [$19]. The potato slices were vertical as opposed to the traditional horizontal method, but still perfectly thin and soft, complementing the white onion sauce, leaving a nice mustard tang. The poached egg had perfectly oozed out and the black cabbage worked well with a generous serving of high quality corned beef – an ideal winter meal.
JJ had Bircher Museli – toasted macadamia, fresh strawberries, chia, goji berries and coconut yoghurt [$13.50] and was impressed with the fruitiness and nuttiness mixed in with the coconut yoghurt – a refreshing spin to Bircher.
The experience at Stagger Lee’s was very positive and I would certainly go back, but personally I found that something was missing. Perhaps it was the over-exposed location of Brunswick Street or my mismatched expectations from all the hype. If I compare my meal with Proud Mary, Stagger Lee’s has yet to find that spark that makes it a premium brunching experience.”
“We had just spent the cold, wet Melbourne morning at Port Melbourne’s Exitus with Mr LB, JJ, my friend Matt and his partner. Post-puzzle solving extravaganza, we were all pepped up and ready for brunch and decided to head to the other side of town and try the newly hyped Stagger Lee’s.
We seemed to just arrive before the crowd, securing a table for five just to the left of the entrance. The venue was smaller than I expected, with carefully exposed and distressed brick walls, a few low-rise communal tables and a barista station that followed the length of the venue. I was sitting near where the smoothies were being made which made it hard to hear the conversations occurring right next to me.
The menu here was very simple but was by no means a reflection on the complexity of the food delivered. Even the humble toasty here has been transformed. I opted for a hearty meal – Fat Bacon Toasty, apple wood smoked bacon, English cheddar, HP Sauce, truss tomatoes, pickled eggs [$15.50], along with a double espresso.
Matt’s partner went for the Acai-coconut smoothie [$9.50], with a very strange end result. The smoothie was thick and brown like chocolate and tasted like banana. None of the ingredients seems very evident at all!
I’m going to be honest – my sandwich was massive. So much so that I actually couldn’t even finish it. The bacon was fatty, but the combination of the smokiness, aged cheddar and HP Sauce immediately brought those intense barbecue flavours to the surface. The cheese melted throughout the toasty and was just so tasty. While the ingredients of the dish were seemingly complex, the end result was a harmony of flavours that dance happily on my palate.
Overall, I really enjoyed Stagger Lee’s. Yes, the venue was a bit loud, but the service was good (with – I think – a few familiar faces from Proud Mary), the food was hearty and it was a no-fuss option for getting a seat.”
Final Thought: “The Fat Bacon Toasty is a definite winner”