87 Hudsons Road Spotswood, Victoria 3015
|Opening hours||Mon-Fri 7am-2.30pm,Sat-Sun 8am-3pm|
|Prices||Moderate (mains $20-$40)|
|Payments||eftpos, Visa, Mastercard|
|Phone||03 9391 6016|
DUCHESS OF SPOTSWOOD
87 Hudsons Road, Spotswood
WHERE AND WHAT
The grandly named Duchess was the most exciting thing to happen to Spotswood since - well, the movie Spotswood, when it opened a bit over a year ago. It's a cafe through and through, but the husband and wife owners - Bobby Green, formerly of North Melbourne's Auction Rooms, and chef Andrew Gale, ex-Station Hotel - mix it up with a restaurant sensibility when it comes to their many-notches-above cafe food.
WHERE TO SIT
Wherever you can get a seat. The staff does a good job of shuffling customers around like a human Tetris game between the big communal trestle table dominating the window and the rest of the joint, and the courtyard should be ready to roll with another 20 seats in a matter of weeks.
WHEN TO GO
The earlier the better (see above). The Duchess opens her doors at 7am on weekdays and 8am on weekends; they close at 4pm and 4.30pm respectively.
When did cafe food become so darn good? Englishman Gale's employment at Footscray's Station Hotel can be glimpsed in the English-leaning menu featuring sterling ingredients - foraged mushrooms, double-smoked pork, heirloom tomatoes, dry cured bacon and a gorgeous black pudding, made in-house. There's more than just lip-service to seasonality, so don't expect your favourites to be rusted on to the menu. The trad camp will be satisfied with a slab of crisp pig's jowl, truffle sauce, fried egg and toasted sourdough. You might find the likes of artichoke, goat's curd and roasted chestnuts rubbing shoulders happily. And, oh my god, the yabby omelet, which makes the occasional cameo appearance. Sweet stuff includes muffins and cakes sitting prettily at the counter.
A liquor licence is pending. Meanwhile, the home-made lemonade with fresh mint is a classic being rediscovered by cafe regulars. Elderberry cordial rocks the house, when it's in season, and pre-bottled refreshments are as local as possible: Hepburn Springs and Parkers Organic. The coffee is Small Batch, and guest blenders include the crew at Proud Mary.
Half of Melbourne. The Duchess of Spotswood's reputation has crossed the bay, so don't be surprised to see your next-door neighbour has braved the West Gate and navigated using the signs to Scienceworks.
Because it's the complete cafe.