Speakeasy bars seem to be all the rage now, don’t they? But what about a hidden cafe? You know how it works: you have to know where to look, where to walk, where to turn, and then all of a sudden the place you are looking for stands before your very eyes. Needless to say, the novelty and excitement started way before arriving for brunch at this coffee roastery and kitchen. If you’re going to try and find The Vertue, its ingeniously secluded in a little back lane called “Raffa Place”, next to a petrol station: see pics below.
Upon arrival, the eyes continue to feast on the immaculate layout and design. As you walk through the entrance, a cosily done up reception greets you. The waiting staff seem to bustle about here, with the barista is busy at work. The heady aroma of coffee beans being ground and brewed launches a full-on assault to your senses, and it’s wonderful! Darting your sight around, you’ll very quickly notice colours and ornaments that are striking on their own, but work together so well.
The dining hall is blessed by a ceiling that seems to reach up to the skies. What makes it even more glorious is that the designer has allowed the sunlight to come pouring into the space. The kitchen is positioned at one end of the dining hall, and at the other end a stair way leads to a private dining room and the washrooms; you get a sweeping overview of the entire eatery.
The coffee is is one of the better ones I’ve had in Melbourne. The menu is graced by what I perceive to be variations to drinking coffee. Of particular interest to me was the “Filter Bar” section of the menu: (1) Pourover V60, (2) Barista’s Breakfast, (3) Coffee 3 Ways. One could only imagine the delight of working through items (2) and (3) above. One in my party to brunch here tried the Pourover – it came in a wine glass and looked oh so fancy. And on a hot summer’s day, the iced coffee was simply delightful.
Food-wise, there were to be no complaints. However, my recommendations from the menu are “Smoked Fish Chowder”pictured below. It was laden with mussels, smoked fish, (curiously2quail’s eggs which I promptly set aside), and barbecued corn. The dish was creamy, silky and very satisfying with the side of toast that accompanied it.
The other dish which my company raved about was the Hash Hog, pictured above. It is described in the menu as: Crispy pork belly, potato hash, black pudding and purple carrot puree, duck egg, coffee infused blackberry, pig skin cracker. For pork-lovers, this is an absolute must! Below are the rest of the dishes we had, starting top-right clockwise: Quinoa Amaranth Salad, Side of Curly Fries, Muffaletta (it’s a toasted sandwich with a mix of cured meats, cheeses and pickles), Slow Cooked Lamb Shoulder, and the Hash Hog.
If you have any room for dessert (which people say we all have a separate stomach for), I would suggest going for the Brioche French Toast: strawberry, pistachio praline mascarpone, strawberry coulis, mint. The flavours aren’t groundbreaking, but how could you read it and not know that they just work together? It was an absolute sight too. A word of caution, this HAS to be shared because there is no way you could finish it by yourself.
All in all, another good spot for brunch in Carlton. What I liked too was that there weren’t any ridiculous queues to wait through. I’m not sure if it’s a case of The Vertue being a well-kept secret, but I don’t think it’ll last that way for very much longer.
The Vertue Of The Coffee Drink
8 Raffa Place
+61(3) 8060 6987
See how this cafe ranks on The Hungry Wolf’s list of Melbourne’s Best Cafes!