20-22 McKillop St
Melbourne, VIC 3000
A few months ago, I got a very official-looking letter in the mail – I had been summoned for jury duty! Instead of a Homer-Simpson-eque D’OH, I was ecstatic. 10:15am to 4:15pm workdays with a 1 hour 15 minute lunch break? It sounded like heaven. I had big plans for those 7-10 business days – brunches, lunch dates, and post-work tapas, just to name a few. Now some of you may be wondering if I can even disclose the fact that I’m on jury duty; well I CAN, because as it turns out, they didn’t need me after all, and I was back at work the next day. There go my plans, up like a puff of smoke.
Fortunately, I did manage to fit in brunch at Dip In Cafe with K. Despite only being a few months old, business is booming. After all, where else can you get your brunch served in a bread bowl?
Cut into the side of the hill, the small outdoor seating area gave no hint as to the cavernous space hidden underground. The chipped walls and heavy furniture spoke of years of history. Amidst the worn wood and leather, the mural splashed across the back wall glowed with life.
The atmosphere of the restaurant is intoxicatingly adventurous. Alcoves are piled high with suitcases, luggage, and battered copies of travel guides. The heavy communal table and ancient leather booths, drenched in dim yellow light, reminded me of a cross between an old fashioned tavern and a smoking parlour.
The Flat Whites ($3.5, small) came in big, huggable mugs with a dense layer of froth on top that guarantees a moustache. The flavour was a little bit flat (HEE) if you ask me, but it was a smooth and easy brew to drink, especially with the chocolate button on the side.
Shakshuka ($13.9) with Spiced Baked Beans ($4.5) is the perfect sort of thing to go into a bread bowl. The rich, tangy stew of tomatoes and beans, studded with glistening olives, soaked satisfyingly into the fluffy centre of the bread bowl.
Cracked on top of the stew were two eggs, their golden yolks made to be sopped up with chunks of bread. On the side was a simple garden salad, drizzled with a creamy balsamic dressing.
The Make Hummus Not War ($15.9) was certainly a good candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize. Layered on a bed of creamy hummus was a decadently rich and spicy tumble of fried beef and lamb, tossed with earthy mushrooms and pine nuts. Mix it all up in your bread bowl, and you have yourself a brunch dish that’s provocatively different.
If you look a little closer at the menu at Dip In Cafe, you’ll notice that it’s essentially a collection of ‘stuff on toast’ (except in bread bowls), topped up with a few cafe classics such as burgers, granola, and salad. What gets the crowd running is the novelty of the bread bowls, backed up by some solid flavours and good portions.
Rating: 13/20 – wanderlust.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.