Category Archives: coffee hipstery

and there you are

Squee, another guest post! This one is from my fave zinester Beck, of ‘Macarons Are Not Macaroons’ fame. I asked her to write this post because there was a conflict of interest regarding the place reviewed below (full disclosure: I did work there very briefly). I also asked her to write a guest post for the blog because reading writing in her voice makes me laugh my arse off.

The first time I went to Elevenses I almost didn’t go at all. As a trade-off for dragging Miss G to my end of the CBD – Degraves – the first time we met, it was suggested that she should get the next pick for our cafe-rendezvous. It was unfortunate then that, as it is at the start of all new friendships, it is hard to gauge the other party’s concept of time based on only meeting them only once before.

our wildebeest friend

Never having been to Elevenses before, hell, never having ever even been to traipse Little Collins Street before – let alone trying to find a cafe there – put me on edge and I found myself there about half an hour before we were meant to meet. As luck wold have it, Miss G was then about half an hour late – or more perhaps – I remember thinking I should bail so it could have been more but I think she was having a Why Is Metro So Unkind? moment, so I was sympathetic. The point is that she did turn up in the end, even if she was late. Once we walked through the doorway of Elevenses I was well glad I had stuck around.

Upon entering Elevenses you’re stuck with a sense of walking into someone’s “this is the amazing little place I only take people I really like to” hide-away. It is all high ceilings and warm bricks, a mix of natural light and soft lighting, original artworks, old fashioned furnishings, a repurposed pool table, a side-board filled with a very fitting selection of music and Scrabble.

Scrabble at Elevenses

repurposed pool table!

It is one of those places you walk into and immediately think ‘my brother would really like it here‘ even if you aren’t the kind of person who has a cafe-snob for a brother.

The story goes that Tom and Shanny originally opened Elevenses in Kensington, but after some terrible storms and a really awful landlord, they had to close and have, as such, moved on to Little Collins St. I had never been to the original Elevenses but if you watch this video you get a really good sense of the kind of place the original shop was like. Now if you can imagine taking that vibe and squirreling it away into a space in the business end of the city…

To be honest I didn’t think such a warm and homely place could exist on any kind of Collins Street, but there it is, and there you are.

retro stereo cabinet

Tom and Shanny run the place themselves and you can tell that it is their baby more than it is just their business. The cooked food is made from scratch in their kitchen – the menu runs from breakfasty-type things;  fruit toast, muffins and pastries, to rather high-end sandwiches which include the gamey likes of rabbit and kangaroo (Rooben rye pictured below)…

Rooben rye sandwich

…as well as the more humble varieties such as pork.

pork belly sandwich

And the coffee, well, it’s not made from scratch per se – they stock Toby’s Estate, for the record, and it is quite delightful – but Tom will overextend himself for you and make you your coffee just the way you like it, even if he doesn’t pretend to understand why you would want your latte made with cold milk at all.

Elevenses is more than a coffee place, it is a cafe experience that is few and far between in these modern times – it is the kind of cafe you would call home; where Tom and Shanny become your coffee-based-family and you can very easily lose a couple of hours there if you are not careful, and you do find yourself taking your cafe-snob siblings there and find that you do not have to force them to fall in love with the place because it is a very easy and natural thing to do and you find yourself alright with that because now there is finally a place you can agree on.

Elevenses Espresso Bar on Urbanspoon

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a world first?! a real-time review…

Given I have nothing better to do than review places on my Saturday mornings (who am I kidding, eating food and writing about it is pretty damn rad), I thought I’d mix it up. I’d try a potentially new and novel approach to a review, a real-time review! While I’m not live streaming my breakfast — even I’m not that inane — I thought I’d start reviewing the place I’m having breakfast at while I’m eating said breakfast.

So, here I am, in Dexter cafe in Clifton Hill, with a cafe latte, It’s 9:53am. This is now my second time here, both visits due to the proximity of Ms G’s yoga class. The first time I came in I was really taken by the staff. Friendly and attentive, without being overbearing or ‘hovering’ over your table. Unfortunately the this visit was brief, and I only had time for a coffee.
So when Ms G asked me to drive her to yoga and she suggested I pop back into Dexter for some nosh I was taken by the idea.

Now, back to the narrative. I arrived, dumped my crummy MacBook with the five minute battery-life, and asked where the power points were. As you can see from this photo, I was literally next to them. However in true Tristan form, I had missed them completely. Coffee was ordered and delivered with a smile. A really solid latte using Coffee Supreme was delivered.

Before the bringer of life (aka my coffee toting waiter) ducked off, I ordered the chorizo, asparagus, avocado and tomato salsa with balsamic vinegar. As I type these sentences I am eating it. Really quite nice. All the right texture contrasts are present: soft and slightly spicy chorizo, crunchy asparagus and creamy avocado. The avocado’s (in cahoots with the poached egg) creaminess really cut through the bite of the balsamic vinegar. I will be getting this again.
Whilst in the middle of my self-indulgent blog post spree a fellow diner singled my dish out, “What’s he having, it looks really good!”. Her waiter then lovingly described the dish and offered to remove the chorizo for her (to make it vegetarian). While in this day and age of vegan/tarians and food allergies, menu variations shouldn’t be hard to come by. Despite this I am  still surprised by the irritation some diners can be greeted with by venue owners, treating some customers as inconveniences rather than the valuable word-of-mouth advertisers they can be. I am pleased to say there wasn’t a trace of this at Dexter.

Now that I’d managed to take up an hour and a half eating ‘n’ typing, Ms G had arrived. She ordered the smoked salmon and asparagus with a grapefruit hollandaise. I have my suspicions her choice was based on recent hankerings for fish, but that’s another story. Gem wasn’t as taken with her dish as I was mine — not sure of the freshness of the asparagus, and a being a bread ‘woosie’, found the bread a little chewy. I must agree with her that the bread was a little too chewy, but I am less bothered by something like that.

Gemma was, however most taken with Dexter’s beer choices, being predominately Victorian micro brew selection. It was a damn shame I was playing it respectable and being designated driver, else I’d be boozing it up.

A lovely friendly cafe with snappy service, that plays Radiohead (as well as some other questionable music). If you ever find yourself with time to spare on in Clifton Hill on Queens parade, pop on in.

Dexter Bar & Cafe on Urbanspoon

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barista stalker

I’m not a stalker. Seriously. I mean sure, I seem to be following Courtney of Cup of Truth fame around, popping up at cafés he’s working at. I assure you appearances can be deceiving. You believe me, right?

But let’s jump back in time a bit, before I outed myself as a faux barista stalker.

When I train in — usually when I’ve skivved from riding my bicycle — I pop into Cup of Truth. As mentioned in an earlier post, it is the best place to get a coffee within the vicinity of Flinders St Station, hands down. Aside from the quality coffee and the appalling jokes, I also enjoy swapping coffee goss with Courtney and Verity. One such day Courtney mentioned Alex Anderson, of Seven Seeds barista fame, being in the process of scouting locations in Kensington for a new coffee venture.

I’d hit pay dirt, the good shit, the shiznit or any other cliché you might be inclined to hurl at it. I had some insider coffee knowledge, without being an insider. Fantastic. So after rubbing it in @alexlobov’s face (my personal coffee idol), I didn’t have much to do with the information. So patiently I waited for the grand opening of Melbourne’s newest coffee Mecca.

With further visits to Cup of Truth, I was able to ascertain that Courtney would, on weekends, be working at The Premises. Thus we are neatly back on the topic of barista stalking. Personally I think stalking is a bit harsh. It’s more like what happens when you find a good doctor. Once you found them, you don’t let go. Ever.

Now that we’ve established I’m only ‘kind of ‘strange, onto the review. I suppose this review is a bit of a repeat of that for De Clieu — great coffee with knowledgeable staff and tasty food. Unsurprising, given Alex & co. were a big reason for Seven Seeds success. The difference between The Premises and somewhere like De Clieu or Seven Seeds is the level of ‘polish’ to the aesthetic. Seven Seeds and De Clieu are executed flawlessly with respect to the architecture and café design. Contrast this to The Premises,which feels slightly less polished and more raw and rustic, perfectly fitting the slightly ‘decrepit in a interesting way’ feel of Kensington.

Ms G and I started the day’s caffeine intake with a pair of lattes (or lat-e as my grandfather pronounces it): a ‘woosie’ soy milk for her, and a manly cow’s milk for me! Very tasty, not too heavy in flavour, nor too milky — a well made latte.  With the coffee circulating, we’d need something to soak up the caffeine.
Gem went for the french toast with stewed vanilla apricots and spiced mascarpone, with the obligatory side of bacon (c’mon, bacon goes with everything!). Simply delicious. The fruit was very subtle and not overly sweet, working really well with the creaminess of the mascarpone. The bacon even worked too!

For me The Premises creamed corn, fried free-range and cumin salt on multigrain toast caught my eye. In my younger years I’d sneak cans of creamed corn from the pantry, but haven’t had it since. While the creamed corn isn’t remarkable on its own (’cause, let’s face it, it’s creamed corn) it works amazingly well with the other ingredients. The gooey yolk and slightly spicy and salty bit of the cumin salt offset the sweet creamed corn. My only quibble with the meal is the size for the price. At $14.50 I’d expect either a slightly larger serving, or the bacon to be included in the ‘base model’ (+$3.50 for bacon).

Sated, but never satisfied we decided on more coffees. I ‘hit up’ a long black Columbian Carlos Imbachi, while Gem (the perpetual hipster) had the El Salvador Kilimanjaro natural as a pourover. To be honest I can’t remember much about my coffee, other than it being tasty. Gem was enamoured with hers, and I was pleased that there wasn’t a beaker in sight.

Full to bursting, we waddled over to the counter to pay.  However, before we were allowed to leave, Gem was quizzed about her take on the pour over. Now while I’m only just developing the palate to discern flavours in coffee, she responded with something about ‘dark chocolate with star anise on the finish’. All gobbledegook to me, I’m afraid. Damn coffee wanksters.

So, in summary: a very nice cafe, in a very nice suburb. You can even stalk your favourite barista there.

The Premises on Urbanspoon

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