Dead Man Espresso, South Melbourne

This past week has been mentally and physically exhausting. On Monday, I managed to leave work at 1am; Tuesday’s home time was 11pm, and so it went, culminating with a 7pm finale on Friday night. Needless to say I woke up late on Saturday morning with a headache, tired and keen to stay close to home. Feeling like a zombie, the aptly named ‘Dead Man Espresso’ seemed to be the best place to head to for breakfast.

Walking into the café, I felt like I was in a sophisticated tree house for grown-ups with timber decking and wooden benches, chairs and tables, and clever integrated canopies made with timber slats that open out and let you drink in the Melbourne skyline.

I was seated outside along the front bench, with a view to die for. Thirty seconds after sitting down, I had a menu, a glass of water, my coffee order taken and the specials of the day recited to me. The non-menu items included French toast, as well as beetroot cured salmon with whipped goat’s cheese, which both sounded divine but I just wanted to sit for a minute and take it all in.

There were some really intriguing items on the ‘All Day Breakfast’ menu, so much so that it really took me a good five minutes to decide what I should order. Although there were hotcakes and savoury “Green pancakes”, I wavered for a couple of minutes over the “BLT”, described as pork belly & spinach puree on brioche w side of gazpacho & pickled kohlrabi but I couldn’t quite conjure up the courage to be that adventurous with my beloved brioche. Perhaps next time. After deliberating through each menu item, I finally decided on the “Potato and kale hash” for breakfast.

My coffee arrived shortly thereafter, extremely pale in colour and probably matched my complexion. Although nicely presented, it was a little too milky for my taste and drowned out the coffee flavour. What added to my frustration was that there wasn’t any sugar on the bench and I couldn’t catch anyone’s eye, so I sat and drank my latte as served. Just as I was finishing my coffee, breakfast arrived.

Crumbed potato and kale hash with grilled kaiserfleisch and fried eggs - Dead Man Espresso, South Melbourne
Crumbed potato and kale hash with grilled kaiserfleisch and fried eggs – Dead Man Espresso, South Melbourne

My outlook lifted considerably when I looked at all the delectable things in front of me and the delicious aroma of the grilled kaiserfleisch wafting towards me. I started with the crumbed potato hash first and was instantly transported to my happy place. I was surprised that it was cold in the centre but it was so delicious, it was like eating the most wonderful potato salad at a gourmet barbeque. The kale was chopped finely, while the cooked potato was cut into bite-size portions, and combined with either onion or leek. I couldn’t get enough of it.

While I prefer my eggs to be on the well done side, the fried eggs were excellent with the broth and accompanying dill and other herbs. The soft texture of the grilled meat, it’s slightly sweet and salty flavour, went well with the eggs and potato. The rye sourdough toast was just as delicious, and perfect for mopping up the remaining broth.

It was more than enough to bring a very tired girl back into the land of the living.

I loved my breakfast and am really looking forward to coming back and trying some of those other exotic items on the menu, however the service did seem to be a little lacklustre. After the spiel was delivered when I was being seated, I received one glass of water which I drank relatively quickly. There was no offer of a top-up whilst other patrons had bottles of water, basic condiments were unavailable, and the empty coffee glass was whisked away but a second cup seemed to be totally out of the question. Or maybe the service staff intuitively knew that I needed time out and deliberately gave me some space. I’ll test that theory after I’ve caught up on my sleep.

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