285-287 Coventry St South Melbourne, VIC 3205
When it comes to Melbourne cafes, a good rule of thumb to keep in mind is: the harder it is to find, the better the food. This is certainly true of Chez Dré, one of my all-time favourite spots to pop in to for a relaxed Sunday brunch. Housed in a spacious converted warehouse just minutes away from the South Melbourne Markets, the entrance is actually found down a cobbled alleyway off Coventry Street. The modern French-style menu showcases a range of simple but high-quality ingredients, and the display counter also boasts a wide selection of beautiful breads and viennoiseries, all baked in-house. The weekly specials and seasonal menu changes allow for variety and choice, as well as encourage return visits. Perhaps this, along with their no booking policy on weekends, is why there is always a big bustling crowd of hopeful diners awaiting their turn to eat at this ever-popular café.
I wanted to be certain that I truly loved this café before writing a rave review, and now, after my 5th visit, I believe that its reputation is very well-deserved. It’s not possible for me to talk about every dish that I’ve ever eaten at Chez Dré without writing a novel, but I’ve done my best to include a lot of photos and highlight the real stand-outs below:
Chez Dré’s cold drip is always beautifully presented – K loves the intensity and clarity in this cold drip and gets it every time!
A Chez Dré classic – this used to be a regular on the lunch menu, and is now part of the all-day brunch options. A very generous serving of confit duck sandwiched between two slices of fresh sourdough with lashings of delicious truffle mayo – it was probably the best sandwich I’ve ever eaten. The red cabbage not only looks beautiful, but also adds a hint of bitterness and crunch…
This meal was from my second visit back in January 2015 – I believe the chorizo and smashed peas is back on the menu now. It’s such a simple take on bacon and eggs on toast, but the smashed peas actually add an amazing vibrancy to the fatty chorizo, which is why this was probably one of my favourite dishes from the cafe.
Both the ratatouille and beef bourguignon came served in a cast-iron pan and looked amazing. The bourguinon was undoubtedly delicious to begin with, but I personally found it a bit too rich, especially for a brunch/lunch meal. It’s the perfect comfort food for a cold winter’s day, but I did find myself searching for something fresh to provide relief from the strong flavours. As usual, the sourdough was faultless and I had to stop myself from lathering on the delicious Pepe Saya butter.
There’s no going wrong with confit pork belly and prosciutto! Tender fall-apart pork belly with crunchy crackling, thin crispy wafers of prosciutto and perfectly cooked, runny-yolk eggs – it tasted exactly as good as it sounds. My favourite element was actually the pumpkin puree, which was smooth and added pops of sweetness.
The obvious star of this dish is the lovely, flaky and tender salmon with a hint of smokiness, but I particularly liked the interesting addition of the rice cake. A lovely and light dish, perfect for those seeking a healthier option.
I think it’s easy to see from the photos why Chez Dré is such a popular spot for Melbournians. I would highly recommend stopping by after a leisurely morning at the markets (the brunch menu is available all day). I daresay that it’s very difficult to choose a dish that’s not delicious, but if you disagree, please let me know in the comments – I’d love to hear about your experiences (whether positive or negative!).
P.S. If you have some belly room afterwards, you can always pop to sister café Bibelot for some petit gateaux – it’s just a few steps away!