Thursday, October 01, 2015

The Vertue of the Coffee Drink

September 27, 2015


Since we moved from Carlton to Brunswick a couple of years ago, there seems to have been a bit of a foodie renaissance around the Lygon/Elgin corner - there's Heart Attack & Vine (which we've at least managed to visit), Milk the Cow, Pidapipo, Nora, the fancying up of Percy's into The Roving Marrow  and today's topic, The Vertue of the Coffee Drink (those who favour simpler pleasures will be relieved to know that the trusty Intersection Cafe is holding its own among all these upmarket upstarts).

A couple of things to get out of the way. Firstly, the unwieldy (and frankly pretty terrible) name at least has a nice back-story, taken from an ad for London's first coffeehouse way back in 1652. Secondly, the location is as hilariously Melbourne as it could be - an old stable, down an unpromising alleyway lined with dumpsters beside a petrol station. It takes some finding.


Once you find the door, the atmosphere changes quickly from grimy and weird, to airy and lovely - lots of natural light, fancy coffee making equipment on display (they roast their own) and a tremendously alluring sweets cabinet (that we somehow resisted). The menu is at the unconventional spectrum, with ingredients like amaranth, thyme pastry and verbena buttermilk pudding dotted throughout. There are a couple of salads (heirloom veggies or amaranth & quiona) and an oat and coconut porridge that can be veganised, plus a few other veggie dishes.


I had an excellent flat white, while Cindy weighed up the dirty chai (chai with an espresso shot), but settled on the Mork hot chocolate ($4), which hit the spot (although nothing measures up to the Msr Truffe version they serve at East Elevation. They have lots of interesting coffee options on the drinks menu. Next time I'll try out the 'Coffee 3 Ways' - three different preparations of the same bean (espresso, long black and EK shot, $11).

Food-wise, I couldn't go past the chickpea chips, with poached eggs, charred zucchini, cherry tomatoes, shaved parmesan and baby basil ($18).


It always takes me a moment to readjust after someone serves up a savoury breakfast without toast - it's so standard that I don't even notice when there's no mention of it in the description of a dish. I didn't really miss it here though, with the crispy-on-the-outside chickpea chips absorbent enough to soak up the eggy bits. The zucchini and tomatoes were okay, but the chips and the eggs were the stars of this dish.

Cindy ordered the oat and coconut porridge, with goji berries, raspberry compote, toasted coconut, and cacao nibs ($14).


This was a visually stunning meal, with the mix of colours and shapes arranged on the plain porridge like some sort of abstract art.  It reminded Cindy of the high-end porridge she had at Pilgrim in Hobart, but fell a bit short of that standard - a bit more fruit would have helped to liven things up.

The Vertue of the Coffee Drink is a welcome addition to Carlton's breakfast scene - the menu is fresh and interesting, the food is prepared and presented beautifully, the coffee's great and the staff were friendly and effective. It's definitely at the more expensive/more pretentious end of the spectrum, but it does a decent job of delivering food that justifies the prices.
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, with only Ichigo Shortcake being anything less than wowed. 
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The Vertue of the Coffee Drink
8 Raffa Place, Carlton (tucked in beside the Shell service station on the corner of Lygon and Elgin)
8060 6987

Accessibility: Once you make your way down the little alley and find the cafe, it's super accessible - there's a flat entry, a reasonably spacious interior and fully accessible, unisex toilets.

6 comments:

  1. At my Carlton workplace, we lovingly refer to this place as Dumpster Coffee, as it's located in the same alley as our dumpsters (the coffee DOES NOT taste like dumpsters, just to be clear. It is very nice).

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    1. Hayley, when Melbourne cafes take pride in their back alley locations I assume they're begging for such nicknames.

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  2. I am aghast to be almost metres away from this place and know nothing of it. Having said that, no one at work ventures anywhere further than Heartattack and Vine for coffee and are all at a loss foodwise now that Seasalt is closed for renovations. Anyway, I'm totally going to check this place out maybe if I remember.

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    1. Hi Fiona! If you can expand your expectations beyond 'chips' (hard, emotional work for so many of us!) I reckon you'll find something to enjoy here.

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  3. Thank you for alerting me to this place! Visited today and love the setup, so light and airy. Good coffee too.

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    1. Glad to be of service, Shaunagh. :-)

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