258 Glen Eira Road Elsternwick, Victoria 3185
|Opening hours||Daily 7am-4.30pm|
|Features||Outdoor seating, Family friendly|
|Prices||Moderate (mains $20-$40)|
|Payments||Diner's Club, eftpos, AMEX, Visa, Mastercard|
|Phone||03 9532 7765|
English Domestic Revival is the technical term for what the rest of us call Mock Tudor, that Olde English style of building you find dotted throughout Melbourne's south-eastern suburbs. At least, that's how Heritage Victoria describes the Elsternwick property once known as Glover Service Station and now, simply, Glovers Station.
The service station, which dates from 1935, was more or less abandoned for about 10 years until Mary-Jane Daffy, Jim Marinis and head chef Brett Hobbs converted it into a cafe that opened in March.
"We completely overhauled the interior and exterior of the property, keeping the design sympathetic to the Tudor era," says Daffy. "We used mortar and tenon joins for much of the joinery and designer Larritt-Evans designed tables using old world joinery."
The original service station sign – "a cartouche in stucco with hood mould and 'Glover Service Station' in Gothic script" (according to Heritage Victoria) – is still there, as is stucco that "reveals the upper floor brickwork to create the illusion of an ageing Medieval row house".
The menu, though, is anything but Tudor. "We serve simple, seasonal food with a twist. There's an emphasis on technique in the kitchen," says Hobbs. "We source beautiful produce and this allows us to deliver uncomplicated dishes that pack punch."
The tasty, stylish breakfasts start with a round of toast or Dr Marty's crumpets with house-churned butter and seasonal fruit preserves ($7.50-$8.50); yoghurt with leatherwood honey and seasonal fruits – fresh and poached – get some crackle and crunch from nut and oat meringue ($13); and the very healthy breakfaster will have trouble going past activated almond Bircher with vanilla bean yoghurt and apple sauce ($14).
A beetroot, smoked curd and roasted hazelnut salad with a poached egg ($17) and poached ocean trout with a salad of quinoa, kale, goji berry and broccoli ($19) show respect for the ingredients and tick some on-trend boxes, too, while baked beans ($16) is a big mess of beans with smoky, hammy flavours, laced with creamy chunks of buffalo mozzarella, a sweet hit of creamed corn and chunky pieces of potato; with a side of grilled chorizo ($3) it's a hearty winter classic.
There's always one dish on a menu that says "I dare you", and I almost never say no. At Glovers the dare was braised ox tongue on toast ($16). The tongue is braised to fall-apart tenderness and loaded on to sourdough toast, topped with a couple of just-fried eggs (with a little runny white) and seasoned with sriracha chilli sauce. Bovine mouth muscle and runny egg white make this a rich and meaty protein super-hit: the accompanying onion puree and pickles are kind of incidental.
Coffee from Dukes is right up-to-date, too: the bottomless cups of filter brew, served in wine-type glasses, have been a big hit with regulars, says Daffy, and they'll fill you a takeaway if you want to have the second round at home. That said, Glovers is buzzing – why would anyone want to leave?