Mon – Fri: 7am – 4pm
Sat – Sun: 7.30am – 4pm
Public Holidays: 7.30am – 4pm
Note: Kitchen closes at 3pm. Bookings only from Monday – Friday and must be for a party of 5+
8 Raffa Place
Coffee: The Vertue of the Coffee Drink
“We don’t like dropping the ball, but I felt we have certainly done just that when we finally got around to reviewing Carlton’s very special cafe – The Vertue of the Coffee Drink. Since opening in 2013, it has arguably being a highlight of the brunch scene in Carlton. Carlton’s mixture of old and new restaurants (including the well established Italian cuisine) can inadvertently be overlooked as a brunch destination – especially when Fitzroy and Collingwood are just a stones throw away.
The Vertue of the Coffee Drink is possibly the hardest-to-find cafe in Melbourne, if it weren’t for the little clue it leaves behind. Behind the Shell petrol station on Lygon Street, you must proceed to pass-by two dated houses and around the corner is one of the loveliest cornerstone cafés the north has seen. The architecture takes full advantage of the tall surrounding exterior walls that make up the ground floor dining space, combined with a purpose-built sun roof creating natural warmth and incredibly open and airy feel. All spaces utilise an effortless blend of quirky decor features with modern furniture design. The space is just phenomenal!
Coffee is roasted onsite and on our visit, The Vertue of the Coffee Drink was offering their house blend and three separate single origins. Electing their Nigerian roast, it came with mixed tasting notes. The initial taste was sweet and delightful with hints of citrus but later followed with a strong acidic after taste. It was not strong enough to be turned off, but slightly annoying. Not to be critical on the barista skills as the coffee operation demonstrates a lot of work and knowledge has gone into the coffee side of the business. On the whole, it was an enjoyable brew and I’ll be back for another tasting.
The passion and enthusiasm doesn’t stop at coffee, with the menu having set a particularly high standard. The seasonal options reads like a mid to high end restaurant, priding itself on individuality and moving away from typically brunch dishes – including fritters!
It was a tough decision but I would recommend the Pancetta wrapped terrine, pork, ham hock, black pudding, shiitake mushrooms, mizuna, bacon jam w toasted brioche [$19]. The saltiness of the terrine with its various meat elements was divine. The flavour was very versatile as each mouthful had a different ingredient mix to experience. Accompanied with the mixture of mizuna and bacon jam that was perfect to spread on the brioche. Finally, the shiitake mushrooms provided a welcoming vinegary/acidity to break through the meaty taste, which, on their own had a lovely soft/silk flavour on the palate.
JoJo was with us on this occasion and decided to take a healthier stance – Granola, orange jelly, verbena buttermilk pudding [$13]. She was really impressed with the orange jelly acting as a natural sweetener when combined with the granola. The skin of the orange jelly was candied and edible.
There are certain restaurants and coffee places around Melbourne that I don’t want to review. Not because they don’t meet my standard, but conversely I don’t want others to find out. The Vertue of the Coffee Drink would have made this list had it not been selected for a blog visit. They have nailed all aspects, but the highlight had to be the refreshing choice of offerings that the brunch menu offers.”
“Tucked away around the corner down an dingy alley, The Vertue of the Coffee Drink is a charming and, at first, an unassuming space. Once stepping passed the barista station and front register the space opens up into a beautiful venue, that is spacious in the downstairs dining area and warm and inviting in the upstairs space. Downstairs has a lot of air moving through it and was a little chilly – so rug up! There is also outdoor dining that is pooch friendly, but there are no covers for the space which makes it unsuitable for wet autumn and winter days.
Once inside the venue, there was no wait as we were seated upstairs at the end of a long communal table that fills the space. I ordered a double espresso [$3.50] to get me going, which was mellow with what might have been a hint of chocolate.
The menu here looked interesting and it was hard pickings to make a selection. I finally landed on the Chickpea chips with charred zucchini, preserved cheery tomato, shaved Parmesan, poached eggs [$18].
My main was beautifully plated when it came out, but I must admit I was immediately worried about whether I’d be full at the end of it. The chickpea chips were beautifully done; crispy on the outside with a nice ratio of fluffiness to density on the inside. The cherry tomatoes were juicy and sweet, creating a burst of moisture to counter the dense chickpea chips, which were nicely balanced with the subtle bite the parmesan added. The eggs were gooey and rich, filling the chickpea chips with its beautiful eggy taste.
At the end of the meal, I was surprised to find that I was full. Not just a little full, but too full to order a bit of dessert. This was both surprising and a shame! The Vertue of the Coffee Drink is a great place. The staff are friendly and efficient, the coffee is tasty and the food is delicious and a little out of the box. Definitely worth a visit.”
Final thought: “The pancetta wrapped terrine is a must-try”