i very rarely venture to essendon. actually, i think in the four years that i’ve lived in melbourne, the only time i’ve thought of (or seen) essendon, has been on the way to the airport. however, after our recent brunch at st rose… i have a feeling this is all about to change! a girlfriend of mine is a local + has been bragging on about the great food + cafes in essendon for ages, so a few weeks ago i decided it was about time to see if she was telling the truth.
rose st, which fittingly is home to st rose cafe, is a quintessential local melbourne street – close to a train station, complete with local organic food stores, clothing boutiques, a pharmacy, real estate and a good deal of enticing looking cafes. but given we knew where we were heading already, those others will have to wait for another time.
we had only a short wait for a table, before being seated along the bench seat in the front (usually our favourite people-watching spot). the cafe itself exudes a warm and inviting atmosphere – complimented by wooden panelling, modern tables + chairs (including a communal high bench at the back), and plenty of green plants adding to the natural touch. the front counter takes up a decent amount of floor space, and given it is already a fairly small space, there are probably no more than a dozen small sit-down tables in the space. however, there is the afore-mentioned bench seat in the front window, and tables on the footpath with those visiting with pooches.
house made ginger bread, maple mascarpone, butterscotch + toffee shards
this was the dish that my girlfriend had insisted that HAD to try, so it’s about as a good a place to start as any. the ginger bread was fluffy, and melted in your mouth, with an evident punch of ginger and a sticky-date pudding texture. between the two generous laayers of ginger bread was an even more generous layer of mascarpone which had been flavoured ever-so-slightly with maple syrup. another dollop on top, and then the whole dish was drizzled with creamy + sweet butterscotch sauce. the toffee shards on top not only completed the look, but also added crunch. delicious and decadent with a double-capital d, and certainly more dessert than brunch, but seriously who’s complaining?!
avocado toast with persian feta, mint, parsley, beetroot paint, grain toast + a poached egg
the ying to the yang, this avocado toast was everything the ginger bread was not. healthy for a start, but also fresh, light on the palate and zesty. my poached egg was oozy and well-cooked. my only wish, was for a slightly more heavy-handed application of the beetroot paint, as not only was it delicious, but also added a softer flavour that complimented the zestiness excellently.
the drink selection is excellent at st rose. in addition to a bevy of fresh juices and smoothies, coffee-wise, the cafe is serving up a house blend of five senses dark horse, as well as a rotating single origin and filter coffee selection. well-executed, my flat white was strong, smooth + on-point.
service was friendly, efficient and very relaxed – a great asset for a cafe that was full the entire time that we were there + with a list of waiting customers on the clipboard. we did not feel rushed or hurried – a trait i find synonymous and necessary with any local cafe, after all you want your locals hanging around for as long as possible right?!
st rose has a great vibe and atmosphere, with a well-executed menu and great coffee to compliment. the stand out for me was the ginger bread, a creamy and delectable dish, that was pretty as a picture (or should i say rose?!).
verdict: essendon, i have a feeling i’ll be back!