The old butcher’s shop in Clifton Hill has been standing empty for a few years now and crying out to be turned into a cafe. It’s on a sunny corner site with space for outdoor seating on the pavement and has even played a cameo role as a fake cafe and shop in a recent TV show shoot.
Finally someone has stared down the apartment developers and made my dream a reality by turning the empty shop into The Dirty Apron. I can’t say I love the name (my preference is for food without dirt) but I do love the fitout. It’s a small space but they’ve kept the rough brick walls, painted the window trim in bright aqua and dangled ferns and potted plants from the ceiling. The Dirty Apron feels contemporary but still cosy.
There’s a lot to love about the menu as well. It stays on pretty safe ground, featuring mainly brunch classics but when dishes are generous and well executed it’s hard to complain. There are big earthy field mushrooms pan fried and served with wobbly poached eggs, fetta and crusty toasted sourdough. The flavours are a great combination and work well together.
Dirty Apron’s take on baked eggs arrives sizzling to the table in a metal dish. The tomato sauce is rich and thick and hides chunks of spicy chorizo sausage which add just the right amount of interest.
A mint green La Marzocco coffee machine purring away by the door signals a serious coffee commitment but in these early days coffee has been hit and miss. I’ve had two good coffees and one slightly burnt one. That’s a ratio that needs to improve quickly for Dirty Apron to cement its space in my heart.
Details: The Dirty Apron, 47 Ramsden Street, Clifton Hill (Ph 03 9481 3950)
Kids: There’s a good kids menu (think lemon butter pancakes and scrambled eggs with brioche soldiers) and high chairs. A few toys or books would seal the deal here.