Revitalise with the simplicity of espresso and scones.
One of Melbourne’s longest-established inner-city suburbs, South Melbourne is a chameleon. It’s one part lined with nostalgic Victoriana terraced houses, and yet another part, consisting of grey Soviet-style medium-density blocks and increasingly, higher-rise apartment buildings arranged like a concreted shipyard. At night, it can be promenade through a valley of booze, sleaze, and sex. During the day, it’s alternatively windswept or sun-drenched, overrun by families and a young generation attracted to the bustle and hum of numerous cafes and the South Melbourne Market. Amid a stretch of drab grey office buildings and galleries, Dead Man Espresso wraps itself around a corner block in timber hardwood slats. On a sunny day, the most coveted seats are the perches on a narrow front veranda that doubles as an enclosed balcony.
Dead Man Espresso’s brunch menu is a short-and-sweet one-page eulogy, sketching across the usual egg combinations and other savouries. For the sweet-tooth on the quest for sweet breakfasts, there are very few sweet options to tempt a passage from the savoury farside to the sweeter earthly delights. MoMo & Coco would recommend that you bypass the bircher muesli and plain crepes, and load up on sweetness with the following two options. First — not seen on menus of many cafes, the “Dead Man Scones” ($6.50) are the perfect excuse to indulge in a morning tea of two fat apple walnut studded nuggets. Awakening the inner hungry spirit, they come lashed with light whipped cream, and possibly the best jam (ominously labelled “Dead Man Jam“) that MoMo & Coco have had in Melbourne, cafe, high tea or otherwise. As black red as its venous, rather than arterial, anatomical namesake, the latter’s metallic taste was replaced with the resplendent tartness of berries. If you love it as much as one of our dining companions did, a jar of this otherworldly blood-red preserve is available for pret-a-porter, for $8.50.
Second — MoMo & Coco would recommend that you bypass the plain crepes rubbed with nutella or lemon for a pinching $9, and select instead something you cannot whip up at home. Emerging from the plate as three origami folds, the other “Crepes” ($14) sweet breakfast option unwrapped to reveal fresh strawberries, blueberries and baked apple crisps. A very subtle earl grey-flavoured mascarpone was plopped on top, and sprinkled with pretty, but superfluous pea shoots. On past visits, as well as this photographed visit, it’s a pity that the $9 and the $14 crepes at Dead Man Espresso generally tend to be a little vampiric — often served cold; flaccid, doughy or under-cooked in texture; and a little anaemic or jaundiced in appearance. More consistent (and cheaper and browner) crepe options may be found at MoMo & Coco favourite french-style creperies in Melbourne’s CBD, Le Triskel, Roule Galette or Aix Creperie. However, you won’t find the seasonal experimentation (nor the soul-revitalising coffee) in these places as at Dead Man Espresso.
Coffee is certainly what one should come here for. The brunch menu at Dead Man Espresso appears to be more of an afterthought. It’s a pity though — we can see always visiting for the verandah outlook with coffee and scones, but would love a broader food menu too.
Dessert adventure checklist
- ☑ Dessert destination: Dead Man Espresso Cafe, 35 Market Street, South Melbourne, Vic 3205.
- ☑ Budget: $.
- ☑ Sweet irresistibles: Breakfast dessert.
- ☑ Must-eat: The scones.
- ☑ The short and sweet story: Revitalise with the simplicity of espresso and scones.