Denis The Menace

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Richmond is home to many of the big names in the breakfast playground with the big boys  like Top Paddock and Pillar of Salt dominating the scene, but there is a new kid on the block, who has set up shop off the beaten track and seems to have made quite a few friends already. Denis the Menace is a new cafe, which has opened up in the back streets of Cremorne (I still think of it as Richmond, but apparently the official address is Cremorne).

From the outside, the shop front looks a bit raggedy with a few glass tables set up in the front courtyard, but once you step inside you realise you've definitely made the right decision and sat with the cool kids. The venue has a refurbished warehouse feel with a high roof and exposed rafters. There are a mixture of tables – the standard tables with chairs around them, booths, and a large communal table. There are planters everywhere (including in the middle of the communal table!) with fresh herbs growing in them, and lots of fruiting cumquat trees!

With four of us having breakfast, we chose to sit in a booth and placed our drinks orders. Whilst everyone else at the table ordered coffees, I decided to deviate from the norm and went for a chai. The menu described the chai as being full of fresh aromatics, sweetened with honey and served with milk and I just couldn't resist.

The chai arrived in a cute little teapot, which we all admired, before I poured it into my cup. There was a distinct spicy aroma and I was instantly reminded of the chai wallahs, or tea sellers, that roam the Indian train stations. Whilst this chai wasn’t as good as the traditional Indian chai, it was definitely one of the better chais I’ve had in Melbourne. The general consensus around the table was that the coffees were also very good, so it was apparent that Denis takes his beverages seriously.

We then set about trying to choose our dishes for breakfast. We had a couple of muesli enthusiasts so they chose 'The One With The Muesli' and 'A Super Start.' Us remaining were not so keen on muesli, and instead wanted a hot breakfast. My usual option of fritters wasn't on the menu, so I decided to venture out of my comfort zone and have a dish entitled 'A Big Green Food Fight' whilst the other half had 'Something Fishy Is Going On Here.' As evident by the names of the dishes, the menu definitely tries to use humour and add a bit of character to their offerings! Another bonus was how clearly the menu was labelled for dietary requirements. There were options for vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, egg free, dairy free, nut free, meat free (I couldn't work out how this was different to vegetarian), no added sugar and even soya free. Looks like Denis was intent on keeping everyone happy!

The open kitchen combined with our clear view of the pass meant that we could see our meals being prepared as we sipped on our drinks and waited patiently.We didn’t have to wait long and our dishes were soon placed in front of us. The first thing we all noticed was how pretty everything looked! The mueslis were served in quirky enamel bowls and the egg dishes all look fresh and wholesome with bright colours dominating the white plates.

'The One With The Muesli' was a gluten free muesli dish (duh) served with coconut yogurt, vanilla and fruit. It came with a cute little bottle of milk of your choice.

'A Super Start' was more focused on the super foods and contained quinoa, chia seeds, goji berries and mulberries, all of which had been marinating in pear juice and coconut yogurt.

The general consensus from Team Muesli was that the coconut yogurt was the definite winner and there was immediate discussion about where before mentioned coconut yogurt could be purchased.

The first thing that struck me about 'Something Fishy is Going On Here' was how pretty the dish looked. The pink of the smoked trout contrasted beautifully with the greens of the vegetables to create a wonderfully elegant look. Upon a bed of pea puree was asparagus, avocado, spinach and red kale and paired with this was hot smoke trout. The dish was topped with a poached egg. In terms of taste it was declared fabulous with a particular mention being given to the pea puree which was full of flavour.

My breakfast, 'The Big Green Food Fight' was very different to anything I would normally order. To start with the dish was predominantly raw, but I was keen to try something different. My first impression was that my breakfast was indeed very green, but once I tasted it, there was a delicious flavour explosion in my mouth. The green came from a variety of elements including raw shredded kale, raw broccoli, chunks of avocado and crushed pistachios. These raw elements were brought together with buckwheat kernels, a liberal amount of chopped fresh chilli, lemon dressing and then topped with a couple of poached eggs. Whilst the dish sounds way too healthy, trust me when I say I was so surprised at how good it tasted.

And then we have the yolk porn test, this time with two eggs on two dishes. Both eggs oozed perfectly and the yolk sauce provided just the right accompaniment, especially on my green dish.

Denis the Menace proved to be a great choice for our weekend brunch. It's possible that Dennis is still new to the neighbourhood and hasn't made that many friends, which is why we could still get a seat without lining up, but trust me when I say that it’s only a matter of time before Dennis is the coolest kid in town. Get in early and ensure your spot at the cool table.

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