It is true. I get very excited about what some people think is a necessity. I’m talking about food. While eating well, and drinking good coffee, isn’t a “necessity”, it is really important!
Well, like my old mate Big Kev, I am excited! Vertue Coffee was actually on my list for so long I had the old name still noted down. “Vertue of the Coffee Drink” was definitely a little bit long for a cafe name. From what I can tell, that is the only mistake the owners have made here. It is cafe heaven and I’ve put my reputation on the line taking some good friends over the past six months.
Funnily enough, Inward Goods, just off Swan Street in Richmond, is the reason Vertue became a must visit. They stock Vertue roasted coffee, changing the single origin every week or so. It is beautiful coffee, and well made by the team at Inward Goods which is one of the crop of bike/cafe venues.
Carlton is not that far from where I live, but the cross-town traffic can be exactly what Jimi talks about. I’ve put that aside and been here four times in about seven months. First on my lonesome, next with Catherine, then good friends Guy and Laura, and finally with my mate Puch. All of the food I’ve eaten here is top quality cafe fare. Dishes like the “Return of the Mac” and “Tamarind Prawn Toast” are quite unique. As you would expect, the coffee is superb.
At the back corner of a petrol station, and down a laneway that is pretty ugly, this is a very unusual location. Once inside you are in perfect comfort with an industrial feel, and very high ceilings, allowing daylight to come through in good measure. Service is good on the whole, with the manager particularly attentive to customer needs.
Catherine’s tried the fried chicken burger, and the pea smash a couple of times. The burger is huge; a brioche bun filled with delicious buttermilk chicken, house slaw and corn aioli. Again a generous serving, and beautifully presented, the pea smash comes with hummus, toasted pepita, and dukkah. It is flavoursome and fresh.
My favourite dish is the Tamarind Prawn Toast because it is such an interesting take on what is more of a western Chinese ‘classic’. That flavour from the fried goodness of sesame toast filled with juicy prawns, the freshness of the young coconut apple salad, peanuts, and the gooey fried egg yolk saucing it up. What did initially get me back was the need to have a big appetite to go after the Return of the Mac. This is serious. Mac and cheese croquettes, slow braised ham hock, beetroot puree, beetroot hollandaise and a poached egg. You don’t need me to tell you it works.
Vertue has quickly firmed itself into my list of favourite cafes. Food, coffee, service, and venue, all marry each other in perfect harmony.