Opened by Eminem and Dr Dre (this partnership had to finally venture from rap music to the Australian brunch scene), Chez Dré is the mecca of rap but somehow repeats The Real Slim Shady at least once every hour. Posters of Eminem album covers and stills from the film 8 Mile adorn every wall in this rather expansive cafe.
Actually… no, I was only pulling your leg (were you wishing it was real?)! I haven’t been writing for a while now, so I thought I’d come back with a little chuckle.
Anyway, Chez Dré has nothing to do with Eminem, or Dr Dre. It’s a rather established brunch venue and hugely popular in South Melbourne. They don’t take reservations and if you think you can just pop down for a meal at peak lunch hour during weekends, think again. I’ve been served with “the wait will be about an hours” all too often. Either come early, or don’t come feeling ravenous. Because “hangry”. I think the best way to do Chez Dré is to have had a bite to eat in the early morning, come by close to lunch time and put your name down, and while your time away in the nearby South Melbourne Market. If you’re a budding gourmet and into all things chef-fy, Chef’s Hat would be your wonderland.
So, on to the cafe itself. The inside is vast enough, with carefully thought out table placements to fit as many as possible yet maintaining good walking space. The display of baked goods and exquisitely crafted sweet treats elicit lots of “ooh’s” and “ah’s” and “I want this’s” and “I want that’s”. It’s a clever marketing ploy, and I’m sure somewhere lies scientific research that customers are lured to spend when tempted by colour and gloss. I note that some of the desserts come from next door’s Bibelot that sells these miniature edible art pieces for roughly $10 a piece (i.e. not cheap). Bibelot’s tagline: “luxury european-inspired dessert boutique; an opulent destination for all things sweet”. You’d pay for that, wouldn’t you? But let’s not let it steal Chez Dré’s thunder.
The courtyard is rather spacious too, although table placement seems to be a tad bit more haphazard:
Being a coffee-snob (as most Melburnians would readily declare to be), I am pleased to report that the coffee here is up to standard. The snobbery is taken up another level too, and the usual long-blacks and lattes just won’t do. The cold drip is served in a curious little bottle (which you cannot take with you) that wouldn’t seem out of place in the movie set of Alice in Wonderland. You could almost imagine the tag saying “Drink Me”. For the non-caffeine drinkers (why?), their ice teas specials are pretty interesting.
You know, when in doubt about whether a restaurant is worth eating at, always trust a queue. There’s a reason that Chez Dré is notorious for the waiting time – I think it’s the delicious food. The menu is unsurprisingly heavily French influenced (Chez Dré is a self-declared patisserie boulangerie). Expect croque monsieur, confit duck, cassoulet to be amongst your brunch options. They’re all good so it’s really all about what you feel like having on the day. Below are some pics for your ogling pleasure.
A visit to Chez Dré wouldn’t be complete without indulging your sweet tooth. The choices are endless! Of particular scrumptious noteworthiness was the peanut butter and jelly wagon wheel creation below. Said dessert basked in the limelight of multiple photoshoots for a good five minutes (that is equivalent to an eternity in food heaven) before being dived into.
Chez Dré is a great addition to Melbourne’s cafe scene; one that proudly lifts the standard of brunching in this city. It is not on many cafe-goer’s list of favourites for nothing.
285-287 Coventry St
Phone: +61 (3) 9690 2688
See how this cafe ranks on The Hungry Wolf’s list of Melbourne’s Best Cafes!