Spotswood, VIC 3015
Ph: 9391 6016
In the ever crowded Melbourne Cafe market, it takes something a bit more special to draw the crowds. Duchess of Spotswood is such a place. Despite being nestled amongst a few shops in the quite town of, well you guessed it, Spotswood, people are flocking to Duchess of Spotswood in their masses. I first read about Duchess of Spotswood from Adrian's blog post, and had been meaning to visit for a while. However, Duchess is on the other side of town, the part where I have to cross the West Gate Bridge for. Usually I only cross the bridge to go to the airport. On this crisp Saturday morning, I was willing to drag myself out of bed early and drive across town to visit Duchess as I had managed to guilt trip my cousin Allan into shouting me a meal, after a comedic turn of events that resulted in me walking 45 minutes to a train station at 11:30pm at night when he was just in the toilet. Oh well, I never refuse a free meal, especially a truly free meal that had no catches behind it.
We arrived quite early at 10am but the cafe was already full. People were already putting their names onto the waiting list, so we quickly placed our names on the list and then did what we always do, take photos. We snapped photos of this, that and everything else, making ourselves look as touristy as possible while all the while freezing in the cold air. Of course, being tricked by the beautiful sunlight, I had neglected to bring a jacket. I had broken my one and only golden rule of fashion "Never ever leave home without a jacket in Melbourne". Actually I have a second golden rule, "Super tight skinny jeans don't work on fat people". Oh maybe a third golden rule of "Sunglasses do not look good sitting on your head". Ok, fashion lesson over.
When we did finally manage to get a table (about a 15 minute wait), we admired how cosy and beautiful the interior was. The chandelier is the central focus point of the ornately decorated room. The room had an elegant feel with the decor having a Victorian or Edwardian look, according to the little knowledge I have of buildings from watching Grand Designs. The waitress, decked out in equally retro clothes (I seem to obsessed with fashion in this post) of stonewash high waisted jeans and a ruffled white blouse, took our coffee orders and gave us the menu. Allan and I both ooohed at the luscious looking menu. We wanted to try everything as it all sounded so tempting. After much discussion, we settled on a cappuccino for me and a latte for Allan, both excellent. Then we continued browsing the menu. After further discussion, we finally settled on our meals, to share of course so we can taste twice as much.
For our breakfast, we firstly had the Duchess of Pork. This was absolutely sensational. A slab of tender pork jowel was soaked in a lovely caramelised sauce. This was paired with two perfectly cooked runny eggs with truffles on them. How can you go wrong. Tie everything together with some great sourdough and I am driving back to Duchess again to eat this.
The Idle Tongues consisted of some tender pieces of ox tongue, a beautifully fried duck egg, juicy sauteed mushrooms and a creamy semolina mash. The dish was a perfect blend of textures and flavours, again all tied together with good bread.
We finished the meal by sharing a Chocolate Stout Cake. When we were both eating the cake, we knew it tasted a bit different and the waitress informed us it contained stout. I like the idea of adding beer to cake but the execution on this wasn't so great. The cake was quite dry and didn't have that indulgent taste of chocolate.
Breakfast/brunch is not really my thing and I have always been cynical about cafes charging nearly $20 for a breakfast of eggs and bacon. However, Duchess of Spotswood has changed my mind and shown that breakfast can be lifted to another dimension and made equally exciting as a dinner meal. I can't wait to go back and try all the other items on the menu such was the excellence of the savoury dishes. There's a reason why people are all going out of their way to visit.
On a final note, as Allan and I were taking photos of our meals, the lady next to us asked us if we were food bloggers. We said we were. She laughed and said how can we have so much time to write about what we eat, in which we responded because we love food. It's interesting to note that while there has been many excellent reviews of Duchess of Spotswood by bloggers such as Sarah Emily I-Hua and Maria, detailing many meals and aspects of the cafe, The Age newspaper have only just published their review today. They just don't have the resources to cover so many places, where citizen journalism, or citizen bloggerism, are increasingly covering many more places with much more professionalism. Meals are carefully described (usually with a photo) and critiques are more considered and constructive, with clear explanation of the criticisms so that it can be used by the businesses should they wish. Hopefully the view that bloggers are just hacks who don't know what they are talking about will slowly change to that of a valuable resource that can be utilised by both diners and businesses.
Overall Rating: 16/20, Excellent breakfast with lots of variety on the menu.
Scores: 1-9: Unacceptable, don't bother. 10-11: Just OK,some shortcomings. 12: Fair. 13: Getting there. 14: Recommended. 15: Good. 16: Really good. 17: Truly excellent. 18: An outstanding experience. 19-20:Approaching perfection, Victoria's best.