Chez Dre

Posted on March 21, 2012


In spite of mastering a favourite brunch dish of mine, a girl still likes to trek out for her morning meal every now and then. This weekend it was back to South Melbourne to finally tick Chez Dre (285-287 Conventry Street, South Melbourne VIC) off my list. Having been open for less than a year, Chez Dre has already amassed an impressive following and in fact, a number of friends had mentioned that I should try it. Word on the street is that lines can be expected during the peak brunch hours. Isn’t it strange how some venues can generate so much hype and buzz while others of potentially equal or greater quality just whittle away in the background? Now, one of my near and dears has a particularly aversive relationship with hyped up or otherwise much loved venues. In fact, he has turned his nose at numerous foodie favourites because he finds that they are either:

  1. overhyped
  2. overpriced
  3. pretentious
  4. has an obnoxious celebrity chef (nb. he only finds certain famous chefs annoying)
  5. waitstaff and/or management has an attitude
  6. or all of the above

In many ways, he is like the antithesis of your average Melbourne food lover. And yet in a somewhat contradictory manner, he is like the ultimate food critic at the same time since he is so darn hard to please. The only thing that really matters to him is food quality, service and how proportional it is to price. In short, he can be quite a harsh judge and cuts through a lot of the fuzz that can otherwise distract me. Needless to say, I am always a little nervous when introducing him a venue with such a considerable fan base. But to my absolute delight, he rather fell in love with Chez Dre, which speaks volumes about this place.

Tucked away in a little alleyway just off Conventry Street, is a charming little entrance to a large dining room. To the side is their semi open and very impressive pastry kitchen. Running along the side wall opposite the kitchen is a large and funky green booth. Further down the back is the counter space, where on display, is a lovely range of baked goods (breads, pastries and cakes). And of course, the increasingly ubiquitous macaron is also available here in flavour combinations such as basil and lime.

The decor is pretty simple but with definite French overtones. It’s a large and airy warehouse space, with large floor to ceiling glass paneling that open out to the cute and shady courtyard.

Breakfast and lunch options are available and pricing averages in the teens. We both opted for the eggy breakfast fare. He had the grand petite dejeuner ($19.50) which literally translates to ‘big little lunch’ or more commonly regarded as brunch, and the dish is pretty much the equivalent of a big brekky fry up. Poached eggs, bacon, sausages, sauteed mushrooms, avocado with goats cheese, potatoes and relish served with some toasted sourdough. That’s a whole lot of food. It definitely ticked his ‘value for money’ box and as for the taste; it really won us both over. All the individual elements were delicious. The potatoes and mushrooms were particularly outstanding, perfectly seasoned and flavour intensive. Yum.

I on the other hand, went for a much smaller and simpler meal of scrambled eggs on a toasted croissant ($9.50). My choice was not due to a lack of other appealing options, but rather because their very golden and crisp looking croissant caught my eye and because I also wanted to save some stomach space for a sweet feed too. I have written previously, about how I am somewhat fearful of ordering scrambled eggs in cafes because of some cafes’ tendency to overcook them or dilute them with milk, but somehow I knew I was in safe hands with Chez Dre. And right I was, the eggs were delightfully gooey, but the pièce de résistance had to be the croissant. It was a French pastry chef who once said a proper croissant should be messy to eat. This one positively crumbled into delicate buttery flakes at my every touch. It was divine, one of the best croissants I’ve come across in Melbourne.

And as if that wasn’t enough fat in my morning meal, I just had to round it off with their salted caramel eclair ($8.50). The pastry was deceivingly light on the palate and the caramel had just the right level of saltiness. It was a party in my mouth.

Let it be known that I and my harsh food critic friend fully subscribe to the hype around Chez Dre. Breakfasts are not usually known for being decadent, but boy that meal was a really rich treat.  And for the record, it was well worth the hour of punishing cardio workout I endured to offset the many kilojoules consumed!