87 Hudsons Road, Spotswood (map)
Those of you who've looked at the Melbourne Gastronome Google Map may have noticed (and tut-tutted) that the vast majority places I visit are concentrated around just a few inner-suburban areas. My feeble, mewling excuses for this geographic bias include the following:
- I do not own a car;
- I live in Richmond;
- I work in the city;
- my folks live out Hawthorn way and many of my friends live around Fitzroy, Brunswick and Windsor;
- I do not own a car;
- blah blah blah etc etc etc...
OVER THE WEST GATE, PEOPLE!
Hudsons Road, Spotswood, is practically in the shadow of the West Gate Bridge, and easily accessible by car (first exit off the bridge) or by train (Spotswood station on the Werribee and Williamstown lines). As with Seddon and Yarraville, gentrification of the suburb is already well underway, but the strip still retains a bit of a retro 1950s vibe.
The cafe is operated by chef Andrew Gale (The Station Hotel, Footscray) and his wife Bobby, who I remember from her days working the tables at Auction Rooms. They did the fitout of the site themselves: "The renovation nearly ended our marriage", Bobby said to me with a cheerful grin.
Well, the fitout is cute as a button. I love the way the 1950s mint green ceiling echoes the green tiles on the building's facade, and I love the chandelier and the gorgeous old butchers block that doubles as a newspaper table. The small room was filled with groups in their late twenties, thirties and forties with kids, and two couples in their sixties - refreshingly, not a single skinny-jeaned hipster in sight!
The Duchess serves Auction Rooms' Small Batch specialty coffee, and the lattes we had were made by a barista who knew what he was doing (that's my second latte - a weak one - in the photo below).
But the menu, oh my gosh, the menu. It's crammed full of all sorts of interesting dishes, many of them with noticeably English ingredients. House-made black pudding. Scotch woodcock with Gentlemen's Relish. English Stilton. Bacon dry cured in the English manner. Five grain porridge with poached pears and whisky syrup. I loved some of the names of the dishes too: 'Oat' Cuisine, Breakfast of Champignons. Heh heh.
I was hoping b-f-K would go for the sauteed potato with globe artichoke, creamy goat curd and roasted chestnut ($13.50) or the Fruit of the Forage (Mt Macedon wild mushrooms with soft semolina, crispy double smoked pork neck and poached egg, $16.50), but instead she went with the special. It was a trumpeter fillet served with a Welsh rarebit and a beautifully bulbous poached Green egg. She loved it.
And me? My EOFY-party hangover and I were immediately drawn to the English style gammon ($17.50), as the menu promised smoked pork neck and pickled pork rump, pan-fried and served with fried eggs and meat juices on toast. Awwww yeah, breakfast pork. The best kind! The mouth-watering pork was hearty but not stodgy, and tasted brilliant mixed in with the runny golden yolks.
Those intimidated by the thought of pork juices before noon can rest easy: there are more 'regular' brunch items on the menu too!
I was utterly charmed by the Duchess and intend to pay her another visit very soon: for lots of beautiful photos taken with an infinitely superior camera to mine, check out Espresso Melbourne's equally gushing review.