Bedford St review

Fried chicken and waffle with whipped butter and bourbon-spiked maple syrup.
Fried chicken and waffle with whipped butter and bourbon-spiked maple syrup. Photo: Pat Scala

11-13 Johnston St Collingwood, VIC 3066

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I'm sorry but we need to talk about Christmas. 'Tis the season to be merry and we recommend a little forward planning for the morning after. Case in point – pan-American Bedford St, a hangover-friendly, matcha latte-free, Coca-Cola-swilling all-day diner with a breakfast offering that won't help you live a longer, healthier life but might just help you get through the day.

It's the latest venue from Wide Open Road and Heartattack and Vine proprietors Hootan Heydari​ and Jono Hill, in partnership with long-time employee Mark Jacobson and head chef Daniel Dobra. What was once a dingy Eastern European restaurant is now a light-filled space that architect Nicky Adams has enlivened with mid-century modern booths in rich red upholstery, low-fuss hanging fluorescents and a yellow formica bartop for post-breakfast negronis.

Unlike some venues with a day-to-night offering, the room works as both cafe and bar (floor-to-ceiling windows help).

Don't miss a piece of pie, pictured on the countertop.
Don't miss a piece of pie, pictured on the countertop. Photo: Pat Scala

Dobra's all-day brunch menu has an American-lean, perhaps reflective of the 12 months he spent at Rathdowne Street dive bar the Beaufort. Tables are laid not with salt and pepper but Tabasco, toast is thicker than a Penguin classic, butter is whipped and pitchers of real Canadian maple syrup are available on request.

You can get fried chicken and waffles, a southern American classic popping up on Melbourne menus at a heart-stopping rate. They arrive with butter melting into a paprika-and-oregano-crumbed, skin-on boneless chicken thigh that's moist with an excellent crunch. The experts will tell you there's no shame in pouring that melted butter directly onto the waffle underneath before adding a splash of bourbon-infused maple syrup – go hard or go home.

Then there's a fried chicken sandwich made with delightfully low-rent white bread and tangy cabbage slaw doused in brown sugar barbecue mayo, or a single piece of fried chicken for $5 if you're not willing to commit to the whole shebang.

Green pancakes topped with crab louie.
Green pancakes topped with crab louie. Photo: Pat Scala

But enough about fried chicken. There are "green" pancakes for the remorseful – peas, broccoli and snowpeas pureed and chopped into a buttermilk pancake base topped with crab louie (a classic east coast combo of crabmeat, finely diced tomato, celery and cucumber) and a poached egg, or a perfectly browned four-egg omelette filled with sauteed mushroom and ricotta-like soft cheese, a sprinkling of chives providing the only hint of green on the plate.

You're probably not here for health reasons so finish up with a piece of pie (a two-course breakfast? I'm making it a thing). Go for the not-too-sweet pumpkin option, if it's on. Dobra controversially makes the filling with fresh pumpkin, mascarpone and a good dusting of nutmeg and serves it a la mode (with ice-cream) or with star-piped whipped cream.

If you're more interested in getting a hangover than curing one, daytime cocktails range from Campari and juice to "frosé". Here the rosé is served spritz-style with Aperol and soda, rather than frozen. However, the most sensible option is coffee, supplied by Wide Open Road, of course: a house blend for bottomless batch via a commercial-sized Moccamaster​ and espresso.

Slide into a plush deep-red booth.
Slide into a plush deep-red booth. Photo: Josh Robenstone

Can't get up before sunset? No problem. From 6pm you can get your fried chicken with mac'n'cheese, your oysters fried and your potatoes crinkle-cut.

Pro Tip: Set an alarm for 10am to catch whole pies as they come out of the oven.

Go-to Dish: Fried chicken and waffle.