Denis the Menace is a cafe which doesn’t take itself too seriously. After all, it’s named after a comic book character. Just opened in Cremorne’s back streets this converted warehouse space has lofty ceilings and exposed brick walls. There are some fun touches like the toy cars which act as planter boxes. On a dreary Melbourne Winter’s day it was still light and bright although not particularly warm (it’s a bad sign when the diners and even some of the staff are wearing beanies).
The sense of humour here extends beyond the name to the menu which includes such gems as “Avo, we’ve met before” and “Something fishy is going on here” and its additions sections is headed “For those who like to annoy the chef”.
“Something fishy is going on here” ($17) turns out to be some slivers of hot smoked trout teamed with avocado, asparagus, a pea puree and kale. Topped with a poached egg once it arrived I realised I had accidentally ordered the dish aimed at carb and gluten dodgers. But it turns out I didn’t even miss the toast once I tucked in to all that fishy goodness.
The dish which inspired order envy was my friend Hugh’s “Watashi wa Denis” ($17) the spanner crab omelet with a Japanese twist – the omelet was golden and puffy with added zing from miso sauce and shisho. But classic dishes like eggs benedict ($16) are also done well with creamy hollandaise and eggs poached to perfect runnyness.
Complimentary sparkling water is a nice bonus and the coffee is good but pretty slow to come out (some takeaways we ordered for the way home took a good 15 minutes). Given the place has just opened they may speed things up a big over time. Denis is not so menacing after all.
Details: Denis the Menace, 106-108 Chestnut Street, Cremorne (Ph 03 9428 8010)
Kids: Welcome. There’s a kids section to the menu but no high chairs.