11-13 Johnston St Collingwood, VIC 3066
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).
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.
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.
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.