Hannah

Pot plants, stucco, watchful elephant figurines and music on vinyl add texture to a clean fit-out.
Pot plants, stucco, watchful elephant figurines and music on vinyl add texture to a clean fit-out. Photo: Ken Irwin

141 Chapel Street St Kilda, Victoria 3182

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03 9534 4442
Opening hours Daily 7am-4pm
Features Gluten-free options
Prices Moderate (mains $20-$40)
Payments Mastercard, Visa, eftpos

I'm all for the ''I always dreamt of opening a cafe'' passion project, but it's a pleasurable relief to walk into a place that's professional and poised from day one. That's the water-glass-half-full vibe at Hannah, a new hangout from Jason Bates, the guy who ran Middle Park's Mart 130 and St Kilda's Grocery Bar in its grousest days.

The cafe is at the base of an apartment development near Carlisle Street - this notch on the latte belt is well supplied, but there's always room for one more cafe if it is really, really good. The corner premises is spacious; pot plants, stucco, watchful elephant figurines and music on vinyl add texture to a clean fit-out. A window bench has delightful views of the St Kilda cop shop.

The menu is exciting, quickly covering off build-your-own eggs and extras before moving on to inspired other options. I loved the smoked trout with fresh leaves (witlof, radicchio, spinach), poached egg and salsa made with samphire, a briny coastal succulent plant. It's a fancy breakfast salad, really full of honest flavour and varied texture. It's gluten-free, too, but doesn't make a song and dance about it.

Dish of the day: Smoked trout, fresh leaves and poached egg with samphire salsa.
Dish of the day: Smoked trout, fresh leaves and poached egg with samphire salsa. Photo: Ken Irwin

Mushrooms for brunch aren't radical, but the Hannah version 'shrooms to the next level with five fungi, poached egg and pungent melty fontina cheese on toast. A judicious drizzling of truffle oil stitches the elements together.

There's also a highly conceptual ''Saint Beans'' dish with red, white and black pulses served cassoulet style with toasted breadcrumbs and (optional) shredded ham hock. The serve looks small but it packs a hefty punch.

When brunch starts to feel like lunch there are a couple of hero sandwiches (a club with chicken, egg, bacon and anchovy mayo, and a scotch fillet steak sanger with beetroot remoulade), plus pasta and exuberant salads. There's also a ridiculously fabulous brioche French toast chocolate sandwich. This extravagant, golden, oozy concoction comes with orange parfait and pistachio crumble. How is a person supposed to stay sane when that is going on in their neighbourhood?

The coffee is great but the caffeine scene isn't geeky - a single-origin bean is listed on the blackboard, but there's no mad scientist brewing it.

The toilets are true restrooms, sparkling and stylish, in keeping with the public zones and further boosting the notion that Hannah is a class act.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5