The (almost!) equivalent of winning the lottery, getting a bank error in your favour or making the tram after you run to get on it has happened to me. My local cafe has reopened with new owners, a new name, a new look and a brilliant new menu. What was Squirrel tucked away in a Clifton Hill back street is now Uncle Drew and I couldn’t be happier.
The cafe doesn’t look too radically different. It’s a bit slicker with dangling light bulbs and pops of aqua from the (surprisingly comfortable) vintage metal chairs dotted around the space. The front room is dominated by a big communal table while there’s more seating out the back and on the pavement outside for warmer weather.
The real shakeup is in terms of the menu which is now filled with the sort of things that I love to eat. It’s innovative and creative cafe food. Think scotch eggs, spicy BBQ pulled pork and brioche French toast. They’ve also got some great suppliers on board – from the Istra bacon to the delicious and decadent Butterbing cookies.
Every dish I’ve tried so far has been spot on. The baked eggs ($17) are a little Winter bowl of comfort – sitting on top of a jumble of slow cooked peppers, chorizo and tomatoes. Uncle Drew’s take on Melbourne’s ubiquitous “avo smash” ($17) turns things up a notch with the inclusion of goats cheese, oozing poached eggs and blood orange vincotto. It’s also worth checking the specials which change weekly – if the scotch egg with vegie chips is on there then you’re onto a winner.
Coffee is by Dukes ($3.80) – made expertly with a gleaming La Marzocco machine. It’s consistently good – clean, smooth and just the right amount of caffeine to jump start your day. Service is smiling and cheerful – you can tell this is a labour of love for the owners. All the rest of the locals are just as happy as me about Uncle Drew opening up but this cafe is really good enough that it’s worth seeking out even if you don’t live around the corner.
Details: Uncle Drew, 23 Groom Street, Clifton Hill (Ph 9489 2077)
Kids: Welcome. There’s high chairs, a kid’s menu and a selection of kids books to keep the little ones entertained.