351 Lygon Street Brunswick East, Victoria 3057
|Opening hours||Mon-Fri 8am-4pm; Sat-Sun 8.30am-5pm|
|Prices||Moderate (mains $20-$40)|
|Phone||03 9381 5575|
Locals knew it as "the place with the red door," a specialty chocolate workshop and French-accented cafe behind a blank wall in an old mattress factory in Lygon Street, East Brunswick. There was no sign, and the name, Monsieur Truffe, was confusing, often becoming "Monsieur Truffle" – after all, we were talking chocolate.
M Truffe's then-chef Brian Edwards admits he compounded the confusion when he bought out co-owner Thibault Fregoni three years back, changing the name to East Elevation (from the architects' plans) but neglecting to publicise it.
East Elevation still has the red door, but Edwards added a big window – so passersby could see in, and cafegoers could see out – while the tables on the footpath are a giveaway.
The chocolate workshop is still here, with its roaster and mill for processing cacao beans and chocolate-makers knocking squares of Monsieur Truffe out of moulds, and it still has a cracking brunch menu with a French accent and some hyper-local produce.
The warehouse-rustic interior is dotted with glass cases full of straw where mushrooms are cultivated, and pots of cress and other herbs and leaves sit on ledges and side tables. Mushroom spores are incubated on a mezzanine above the kitchen, and Edwards keeps a kitchen garden in the sizeable back yard of a friend's house in East Brunswick, with an orchard, quails (for eggs) and honey bees.
The mushrooms – king and swiss brown – arrive on grilled rye bread with baby spinach and goat's cheese ($18.50), and there's a chocolate factory theme in house-made granola studded with hazelnuts, dried fruit, dark chocolate and cacao nibs served with fresh fruit and yoghurt ($14).
Melbourne is suffering a Nutella drought caused by the craze for doughnuts filled with the Italian chocolate-and-hazelnut spread; East Elevation serves up M Truffe's house-made version with toast and jam ($7), and also offers it folded into crepes ($7) for kids, who can also choose the croque-garcon ($12), a fancy-French ham-and-cheese toasted brioche sandwich.
A more grown up breakfast is black pudding with cavolo nero and poached eggs ($19), a couple of big, juicy slices of grilled black pudding with a nice coarse texture, sweetly meaty on a pile of lightly vinegar-soused cavolo nero, two lovely poached free-range eggs, semi-dried tomatoes, and a salad of leaves gathered from the planter boxes.
The croque-garcon's big brother, croque-monsieur ($20), is a generous, pillowy thing of soft white bread filled with chunky slices of free-range ham in a just-vinegary bechamel, a crust of blasted gruyere on top and a little salad of leaves and cornichons on the side.
Also Frenchy is a free-range ham and cheese baked croissant ($12.50), while crepes come stuffed with cold-smoked salmon and creme fraiche ($18.50) or sweet and fragrant ricotta and rose with saffron-lemon syrup and hazelnut praline ($17.50).
But for the full Monsieur Truffe experience, you can't beat the chocolate fondue ($16) – molten house-made chocolate, brioche, fresh fruit and a brownie. But I'm not sure that's technically breakfast.