20 Guilford Lane
Melbourne, VIC 3000
I can’t believe I’ve become one of those; I’ve become a (I can barely bring myself to say it) morning person. When I was rostered for the late shift at work, what originally began as glee quickly morphed into horror at how dependent I have become on my 9-to-5 routine. Working until 9:30pm and waking up at 8:30am felt almost equivalent to a daily club to the head; my body just didn’t understand what I wanted. If I’m neither waking up at 6:45am nor sleeping in until past 11am, then clearly that gives my body the excuse to have an existential crisis.
To make the most of this bad situation, I’ve used my extra time in the morning to drag myself out of bed for brunch. In just the last few weeks I’ve managed to re-visit some old favourites, as well as knock a restaurant or two off my wish-list. Today’s target was Krimper, a new cafe that is notoriously hard to find even by Melbourne standards, but has already managed to generate some waves in the relatively short time it’s been open.
With nothing to distinguish it from the faceless brick buildings lining the entire laneway (which is down another laneway) except a pink sign the size of a postage stamp, the cafe doesn’t just look closed – it looks out of business. With a hesitant push on the heavy wooden doors however, we were rewarded with the smell of coffee beans and the sound of early morning chatter.
The cafe is warm and dark, the cavernous space filled haphazardly with mismatched chairs, stools, and sofas. In its previous life, it could’ve been a factory, or even a barn. But now it’s a rustic hidden cafe with walls of exposed brick, and creaky wooden rafters.
My morning Skinny Flat White ($3.8) was excellent – after all, the beans are roasted by Proud Mary. Served in a wide, pastel-green cup with matching saucer, today’s brew was light and fruity, with malty notes of cocoa.
I left Chris to coo over his Cold Chocolate ($4.5), which reminded him of a delicious chocolate milk he drank in Hong Kong that he just can’t stop bringing up. And yes I guarantee he is over 21. Anyway, one sip of this cold chocolate explained why it was so tiny; instead of milk stirred with chocolate powder and ice cream, this was bona fide melted dark chocolate saturated into a glass of milk. You absolutely do not need more than this, though you will probably want more.
What is UPMA ($16)? It is bricks of golden-crisp polenta with a moist, fluffy centre. It is meticulously poached eggs coated with airy manchego custard. It is sweet marinated eggplant and crisp yoghurt. And if you ask me, UPMA should always be served with a side of meaty, salty, crispy Bacon ($4). UPMA? No, UPYOURS traditional big breakfast!
As elaborate as the UPMA was, it was nothing compared to the grandiosity of Le Sud ($19). We had expected slices of toasted French bread, but the fougasse turned out to be an entire loaf of eggy bread with brioche-like sweetness, draped with the slivers of caramelised onions.
Meanwhile, instead of diced sausage, we were treated to an entire dense, meaty chorizo with a strong tangy flavour. Mushrooms were thrown onto the grill whole, their juiciness capped off with melted manchego cheese and opalescent cherry tomatoes. Everything was tied together with a smear of house-made hummus and a creamy poached egg. It was all rather hard to fault. Maybe they were too generous with the portions?
After several recent struggles with sprawling brunch menus, it was refreshing to be offered a tightly trimmed selection of unique and interesting dishes. The coffee was good, the food was great, and I’ve heard that their crumpets are fantastic.