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Wednesday, September 07, 2011

September 3, 2011: L'atelier de Monsieur Truffe

07/03/2013: The management team here has changed and the cafe is now known as East Elevation.

We've been a little bit in love with Thibault Fregoni (better known as Monsieur Truffe) ever since we first sampled his wares at Prahan market way back in 2006. We were thrilled when he opened a store north of the river and have been raving about it ever since. So the news that there was another Truffe-run cafe coming even closer to our house filled us with glee. Our first visit was badly timed - we were too full from The Mercy Seat to do anything more than grab a hot chocolate and some takeaway treats. This time around we made sure we had room by making a visit to L'atelier de Monsieur Truffe (literally 'the workshop of Mr Nose' according to google translate) our first outing of the day.

From the street, all you see of this place is a bright red door set in a concrete and wood façade. Behind the door is an amazing airy space - a former bedding factory has become a high-ceilinged, beautifully lit cafe and chocolate factory. The chocolate-making machinery is still lying dormant, but it still provides a very impressive backdrop to the cafe area. There's a couple of biggish communal tables, a bench with bar stools and a another handful of smaller 2 and 4-seater tables. At the back is a little chocolate store, with a few shelves of Msr Truffe's wonderful chocolate products on offer. Given the amount of room they had to work with and the inevitable enthusiasm with which this place will be greeted, they've kept things reasonably spread out. It makes for a spacious, open vibe that I enjoyed immensely.

The breakfast menu is obviously French-inspired - there's literally nothing suitable for vegans here (which is a shame given the number of vegans in love with Truffe's dark chocolate) and meat pops up in most of the savoury dishes. There's a mushroom brochette that didn't sound that exciting to me but looked amazing on its way to another table and then the dish that I ordered: beetroot and cauliflower salad, forest fruit vinaigrette, home-made fig bread and a 65/65 (i.e. trendily slow-cooked) egg ($14).

This scores points for innovation - there was a ribbon of sweet jellyish stuff which may well have been the fruit of the forest vinaigrette, thinly sliced beetroot discs, a few baby beets, some luscious leaves and chunky cauliflower pieces - not your typical breakfast ingredients. The egg was as soft and runny as it was supposed to be and its saltiness combined well with the sweetness of the rest of the dish. The downside for me was practical: the egg turned into a runny mush as soon as you touched it and there was nothing you could use to mop it up. The fig bread was narrow and biscotti-ish in texture and not up to the task. Still, I enjoyed the mix of flavours and was impressed to get something a bit adventurous for brekkie.

The sweet side of the menu is obviously going to be a chocolatier's strong point, so Cindy stuck with her instincts and ordered the French toast (with sous-vide baby apple, mandarin puree, muesli foam and gingerbread crumbs, $14).

The description all sounded a bit wanky but as soon as I saw this I knew I'd made a mistake not ordering it. The 'foam' was a more saucy and substantial than you usually get when a fancy chef is serving it up and had a sweet flavour at least reminiscent of actual muesli. The mandarin smear was an intense burst of marmalade flavour and the gingerbread crumbs were spicy complements to the apple. The toast was a bit drier than typical French toast but with all the condiments available this wasn't really a problem. Cindy saved me a bite and it was like a heavenly apple crumble - I'll be ordering this next time we visit.

I stuck with coffee ($3.90 including a 50c soy surcharge) to accompany my breakfast but there's a wide range of drinks to choose from (including four kinds of hot chocolate from 66% cocoa up to 85%). Cindy perused their impressive array of teas, setting on a chai ($4) ,which came in this cute pot/cup combo with a weird cow-shaped milk jug on the side (I'm not sure what you get if you order soy milk!).

The service when we were there early was super friendly and efficient (although when we first dropped by during rush hour things were a little more flustered), the coffee was good and the food was remarkably well priced given the fancy approach. We couldn't walk out without adding a couple of blocks of dark chocolate to our bill (plus a pain au chocolat for me!). That's the main downside to L'atelier do Monsieur Truffe - no matter how affordable the meals are, I don't think we'll ever be able to go there without splurging loads of money on takeaway treats. Still, when there's a giant chocolate rooster next to the till, you pay the bill with a smile on your face.


There are plenty of other positive reviews of Monsieur Truffe's new venue. See: Don is baked, Bean there and read that, Tomatom, The Melbourne Foodie, Words and Flavours, Momo and Coco (including a great guide to the Truffe chocolate sampler), Eat Play Shop and Mel: Hot or Not.


L'atelier de Monsieur Truffe
351 Lygon Street, Brunswick East
9380 4915
veg brekkies $6-16

Accessibility: Excellent. A ramp on entry, great light, lots of space and a dedicated disabled toilet. Ordering happens at the table and payment at a reasonably low counter.


  1. Oh my! More Monsieur Truffe!!!! WOOO!!! This is GREAT news!!! Please tell me they have the chocolate croissants there... absolute favourite!

  2. The French toast sounds and looks amazing!!!!!!! :D need to try them asap!!

  3. MM - yes, they do! Michael refused to leave without a chocolate croissant. :-D

    Hi Vien! It is rather special, unlike the French toast I've eaten anywhere else.