8-10 Railway Pde
(03) 9831 1400
When I discovered that a good friend of mine, Oscar Rigo, was a chef, I got excited. I’m a foodie, he’s a chef: clearly this would work. Well, I proceeded to learn a little more. Oscar began training in Toorak’s fine dining restaurant Da Noi and since has worked in the kitchen of Church Street Enoteca, establishing his skills in Italian cooking. At twenty, he became the head chef at the beloved Journal Canteen on Flinders Lane, where his skills only broadened. His latest endeavour, an appointment as head chef at Camberwell’s Coffeehead and redesigning their menu, has allowed him new heights in creative ingenuity. So after a brief chat with Oscar, I headed to Coffeehead to both support a friend and relish in the opportunity to be one of the first to sample a new menu.
The love of coffee at Coffeehead is evident from the moment you walk in to the moment you leave. The wall is lined with a huge range of beans available for sale along with plungers, filters and other coffee related merchandise I couldn’t even begin to name.
The coffee machine is a flurry of activity and at any one time there are five different beans grinding and ready. The baristas are introduced by name, like they’re your best friends, and by the end of your visit they will be.
As the long black and cappuccino were brought to the table, we were informed that they were Ethiopian single origin and 1961 blend respectively. As the name suggests, they take their coffee seriously here and trust me, it pays off. Mine was strong, bitey and just what I needed on this cold and rainy autumn morning.
The stomach starts rumbling and attention diverts to the food menu. To me, coffee and breakfast go together like salt and pepper, or pork and apple. So when I told Oscar that I was coming to check out his new menu, I naturally assumed to come in for breakfast. After I saw the lunch menu, I kicked myself (just a little) because it looks fantastic. Oscar’s Italian training and influence is evident, with dishes revolving around calzone, risotto and house made rigatoni. It was the kingfish carpaccio salad that caught my eye but alas, the day called and lunch kicks off at 11.45am. As much as I’d have loved to, I couldn’t spend three hours drinking coffee and waiting.
Oscar’s new menu, when compared with the old, comes back to quality over quantity. The options aren’t endless but are diverse enough to please the fussy and the extravagant. I’m not usually one to choose something sweet for breakfast but I saw poached rhubarb and was sold. Sweet burst of dried fruit and gluten free grains make up the muesli, which was served topped with unsweetened dollops of labne and poached rhubarb, served with a cute little jug of milk for my own pouring pleasure. The muesli is sourced from one of the Porgie and Mr Jones crew, Georgie, and her new muesli range. The poached rhubarb is the perfect combination of sweet and tart.
When it comes to savoury options, Coffeehead offers your favourites: eggs your way on toast, salmon and cream cheese bagel, the big breakfast, pork rillette croquettes with and apple and walnut salad…wait, what? My dining partner, also being a bit of a foodie, couldn’t help but order this. The shredded pork was crumbed and fried and the saltiness was set against the sweetness of the apple, with the added crunchy walnut texture. It looked delectable, and I was informed that it was an unusual, but hearty and delicious, choice for breakfast. What did I say earlier about pork and apple?
Oscar’s passion for the food is evident when you speak to him. All the ingredient are specially sourced. The grilled ham dish uses Andrews Choice, from Yarraville, and was voted best ham for 2012. The salmon is cured in house and the process takes two days, which presents as a problem when it’s so popular that they sell out. The bagels are five and dime and the muesli is so local it’s from the next suburb over.
Nothing is left to chance here. The food and coffee is treated with an ultimate respect. No ingredient is subpar and the baristas would rather die than serve you a poor coffee. The service is attentive and the space is big and bustling. Coffee buffs definitely shouldn’t miss and those who go to a cafe for the food, you won’t be disappointed either.