Darling Street Espresso embodies the essence of Melbourne cafe cuisine- real food without the fuss, just a street away from your home.
Start off the day with a Split Shot (AUD$ 5) - one shot neat and the other made into Piccolo. How cool is that, to be able to appreciate the beans in both manners. On days when i'm indecisive, this solves everything.
Protein bowls are ubiquitous in Australia and every bowl which I had tried during my trip was interesting in its own way. The Protein Bowl (AUD$18) here is well thought-out. Supergrains formed the base and for greens you have asparagus and zoodles, which is basically zucchini noodles, that I believe will eventually become a hit someday. Beetroot was mashed into a tangy sorbet and a handful of crispy chickpeas for some fun. Not too raw for comfort, when there's a slab of halloumi and poached eggs to bring it closer to home. Fresh turmeric labna, a middle eastern staple made by removing excess whey from salted yoghurt is used to harmonise the ingredients. I thought that adds a homemade touch to this dish.
12 hr Smoked Pork Shoulder Brik 4.5/5
We had 2 specials of the day, and both dishes speak with sophistication and quality that I never thought could be found in a cafe. I love the vibrant colours and the artful plating. 12 hr Smoked Pork Shoulder Brik (AUD$21) was like a filo pie - tender and moist meat wrapped within a paper-thin and crisp skin. The orange and potato salad supports the richness of the meat while the kohlrabi and basil pesto lent a touch of bitter and nutty nuances to the overall taste.
Confit Duck Croquettes 4/5
Duck can be quite a tricky meat to handle in the realm of western cuisine which makes this Confit Duck Croquettes (AUD$19) even more outstanding. So just when you find rosti a creative replacement for hash brown, we have got something even more exciting. The crisp exterior cracked readily under my fork, revealing a moist mixture of duck and potatoes. Very well executed dish in terms of taste and pairing of ingredients, turning what is usually treated as a street snack into brunch to look forward to.
Brekky Roll 3.5/5
When everything else is too fancy, this simple but satisfying Brekky Roll (AUD$13.50) will get your morning rolling. Well toasted brioche bun holding together the meaty Newmarket bacon, fried egg, cheddar, complemented by relish and aioli. Another homemade touch to that.
Cauliflower Falafel 3/5
Vegetarian options are readily available in cafes. I notice a few dishes with middle-eastern ingredients, Cauliflower Falafel (Aud 15.50) is definitely the most pronounced. Sandwiched in between the flat bread is the cauliflower falafel. I find it kinda dry, despite the eggplant kaunda spread.
Real food without fuss, in a equally simple and functional setting, no 'hipster' name tag to it. That's what I love about a good suburban cafe.
Words and photos by Si An. A girl who is allured by travelling, loves the feel of freedom, smell of the rain and the aroma of fine coffee and food.
Darling Street Espresso
146 Athol Street
Tel: +613 93262212
Mon-Fri: 730am - 4pm
Sat-Sun: 8am - 4pm