Ten years ago, Chez Dre was at the top of its game, and you couldn't get a table for love or money on a Saturday morning. Stephen Sam and Andrea Reiss transformed a South Melbourne laneway warehouse into a sweet and savoury heaven. With outdoor additions and constantly evolving their menu and style, it had been quite a few years since this cumbersome frame had darkened their door.
So it was with joy we nabbed a table as walk ins on a Saturday and were promptly seated in the outdoor terrace with the retractable roof, which, on a typical Melbourne Spring Saturday was back and forth like the busy floor staff. They were as excited to see us as we were to be out and drinking coffee from a real cup and food we haven't prepared ourselves or had delivered. Service is mostly efficient without being too overzealous managing the check ins well while maintaining a busy floor service.
The food hasn't missed a beat - a little inventive without pushing the boat out too far. Some will say you can't bugger up some avocado on toast, but you can trick it up, and thats what we like about this venue. Sourdough toast, watercress and basil pesto, some heirloom tomatoes, torn burrata and great chunks of the green mortgage buster with a perfectly poached egg and a side of bacon.
The standout dish was some chilli scrambled on crumpets. Again, this isn't breaking any records for invention but smashed it out of the park with flavour. Topped with a chilli oil and bacon crumb that packed some punch, and a little lime to add some tartness, it was a winner on all fronts. A side of bacon was necessary because, it always is at that time of the day.
Coffee is great, roasted to their specifications by Five Senses and there is also a cracking raspberry granola. But if you really want to hit the sweets, pop around the corner to Coventry Street and indulge your sweet tooth with beautiful desserts on display at Bibelot.
While not a lot has changed in the venue, there have been changes behind the scenes, and Chez Dre is now owned by Sam and Nichols Seoud's The Darling Group (Top Paddock, Higher Ground, Dundas & Faussett, Kettle Black etc.)
Chez Dre is at rear of 285-287 Coventry Street, enter via the cobblestone laneway on the south end of the building
Open Weekdays 7am - 4pm. Public holidays and weekends from 8am.