This past Saturday morning I woke up with a plan and purpose. During the week, I had spied in The Age newspaper that there were a number of cafés who were participating in a promotion by giving away free copies of The Age 2014 Good Café Guide when customers paid with EFTPOS on Saturday. Looking through the advertisement, I spied Chez Dré in the listing of cafes and devised a strategy for Saturday morning breakfast. I admit that Chez Dré has been on my “must do” list for the longest time and I love freebies, especially one which I can use to find good food and great coffee.
Walking towards South Melbourne was a surreal experience as the heavy rain from the night before had made the wet roads and paths take on a bright new sheen, and everything seemed to sparkle and glisten in the morning sunshine. It was so beautiful to see but at the same time, I was also wishing that I had brought my sunglasses with me.
Turning down a small alley off Coventry Street, I was surprised to see that there wasn’t a long queue of people waiting outside trying to get a table. It wasn’t until I stepped inside the cavernous warehouse building did I realise where everyone was hiding. Making my way through the noisy hum to the courtyard to wait for a table, there was a bit of a jostle trying to get noticed and register my name with maître d’ for a seat. Thankfully I didn’t have to wait too long and was escorted to a seat outside.
The French inspired breakfast menu includes the traditional Croque Monsieur, a White Bean Cassoulet and the pastries and baguettes you would expect to find in a pâtisserie or boulangerie. My heart was set on the Brioche French Toast as soon as I found it on the menu.
Seated outside in the courtyard area, I was engulfed in a sea of black puffer jackets and sportswear, with everyone looking très chic (fashionably glamorous) in trademark Melbourne black attire. I usually live and breathe black clothing, but I felt a little conspicuous in my long camel coloured coat and red hair glowing beneath the outdoor heaters. Even my super-sized latte looked stylish when it arrived sporting its own matte black mug.
I had a quick look around the tables around me and dish du jour seemed to be eggs and toast yet all eyes were on me when my breakfast arrived. The girls sitting near me stopped chatting to each other almost instantly and then one of them said to me “That looks amazing! Good choice!” Naturellement.
My breakfast indeed looked spectacular. The brioche French toast had a thick, hard outer crust which was a little difficult to cut through at first so I started with the delicious cardamom-infused blood plum compote. The vanilla mascarpone was divine, generous in size but not too sweet. The poached pears, spears of rhubarb, together with the crunchy pecans and sweet brioche provided a myriad of textures and flavours that were so enjoyable, but extremely filling.
After five or minutes, my waitress sidles over and asks “How’s that French Toast treating you?” It was such a novel and friendly way of asking if you are enjoying your meal. I said it was fantastic and she promptly followed up with whether a wanted another cup of coffee. It’s hard to believe but over the last couple of weeks, when I really wanted another coffee, nobody bothered asking or came near my table. Unfortunately this time when I get the opportunity to order another coffee, my super-sized latte and the substantial French Toast put paid that idea. I didn’t eat another morsel for the rest of the day but I did get my free book to take home to enjoy and plan for my next breakfast adventure.