Acland St Cantina (Melbourne) *(closed)

Easy, fun-loving, Acland St Cantina offers dulce de leche dessert perfection.

Our experience

So the hype and craze about Latino cuisine appears to be dying off a bit…replaced with a surge of interest in the Far East, particularly with Korea and the lesser-represented cuisines of Asia. Ergh no way, we say, dulce de leche and all the 1001 ways that you can use it, will always have a place in the hearts of these Dessert Correspondents. And so, while the hoards of SLR-camera toting bloggers and other more sane, food-lovers flock to the newest non-Latino spot, Acland St Cantina, in the cool dark depths of the Prince in St Kilda beckons us. Don’t bother to visit at night, where it transforms into a hedonistic hellhole of thumping soundtracks and raucous chitchat of the type that you will lose your voice halfway through dinner just trying to hear the person 30 cm away from you. No, visit during the day, for brunch or lunch. An all-day venue, the front of Acland St Cantina is one part bar/cafe, one-part specialty grocery store.

The grocery store sells dark chocolate of the type that would tempt an Aztec or Mayan from the dead. There’s also a range of different guacomole, tortilla, chipotle, corn chips, spices and an assortment of grains. Bypass all of these we say, and head directly to the counter top. Raise your little beady eye and hand and say, “I would like one of the Dulce de Leche Cinnamon Scrolls, please.” Yes you heard that right. Allow us to repeat: dulce de leche cinnamon scroll. $6 for one bit of caramel heaven. Although it could do with a slightly more generous swirl of dulce de lehce, it sure beats the so-quotidien fare of croissant or cereal any day, don’t you think?

If breakfast has already gone by however, then consider a lunch of tacos. For $5-6 a piece, weekend lunch fun doesn’t get better than one hand holding a taco topped with Baja fried fish and chipotle mayo, the other hand grasping a taco filled with chorizo and tomato salsa, and one’s mouth chewing the roasted pork and pineapple salsa taco. $15 for three tacos, lunch is done. Follow this with desserts that would require a week or more on the treadmill. Although no longer on the menu at the time of writing this review, one should look out for the return of the “Tres Leche Cake” ($12), a small square of sponge cake soaked in cream and condensed milk, and served with strawberries in syrup, caramel drizzle and ice cream. A light start to dessert debauchery.

Subsequent to this, we never fail to order the so-called “Milk Chocolate Sublime Candy Bar” ($12), a tri-layer creation of chocolate fudge cream, peanut butter parfait and a chocolate-brownie like base. It sits on an elliptical orbit of dulce de leche, opposite a moon ball of peanut butter ice cream. Hola!

Not enough? Almost done? Neither? Excellent! Acland St Cantina’s  “Salted Caramel Ice Cream Churros Tacos” ($12) is that one unmissable dessert. Atrociously, infallibly decadent and so so so bad and good for you. Brunch, lunch, dinner, anytime, anywhere.

Our verdict

Especially fun with friends on a weekend, Acland St Cantina is an easy-to-love place. Whether for brunch, lunch or dinner, it’s our sure southside bet for a decadent dulce de leche treat, especially now that the hype and hoards have died down just a little bit. Get there before they return again, we say.

Dessert adventure checklist

  1. Dessert destination: Acland St Cantina, 2 Acland St, St Kilda, Vic 3182.
  2. Budget: $-$$.
  3. Sweet irresistibles: Restaurant, cafe, brunch dessert.
  4. ☑ Must-eat: Salted Caramel Churro Tacos, and the Chocolate Peanut Butter Candy Bar.
  5. The short and sweet story: Easy, fun-loving, Acland St Cantina offers dulce de leche dessert perfection.

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