Sunday, October 14, 2012



From the look of this blog, you probably don't believe that I've lost 95% of my precious mornings to work, but unfortunately they are now disappointing rare, and thus brunch is a very special treat. However, there was this one time a last week that Anties and I went to Collective Espresso for breakfast, and what a delight that was.

Collective Espresso is located in Camberwell, just up from the station, and was one of the first neat little cafes to pop up in the area. I have to say, as I grew up around here, a year or so ago there was quite a drought for a place that was still affordable, had really good coffee and the clincher, wasn't pram, or walking-frame ridden. But recently, more people have cottoned on to the fact that this was (and still kind of is) yummy mummy central, and now their kids have grown into young adults. So I'm going to start by thanking Collective Espresso for doing their bit to fill this void.

Good coffee. I was so in love with this meal

So we went to Collective Espresso on some nondescript morning to suss it out. We began with coffees, because it was 8am (ergh), and moved on to ordering (ahh!). You know how some places have a menu, and you just don't think about it, you pick and you order and it arrives and you eat? Collective Espresso is not like that. Simple dishes weren't part of the menu, which only added to that nice feeling of suspense after ordering. I didn't know how they would pull off the dishes so extensively described in the menu, but they did.   

The service was prompt without being annoying attentive, and came out about 10 minutes after. Good good. I chose the sake, orange and miso cured salmon, herb and zucchini pancakes and corn relish with poached eggs.

To begin with the obvious, the food was so wonderfully presented, it was like we were served up a section of someones freshly bloomed garden for brunch. Both dishes were wonderfully coloured, and looked fresh and vibrant. Antonia's even had flowers!! The portions were also really well done; enough fresh salmon, enough egg, enough of the amazing fritters. Do you know how rare this is? To get just the right amount of really great food from a good cafe?

Normally, I'm not such a big fan of corn relish, but the one with this salmon dish one was subtle enough (on the corn front) to be complementary to the fritters. I couldn't make out the 'cured sake, orange, and miso' component of the salmon, but all the same, it tasted wonderful, was textually diverse and a really, creative meal. Everything was just so good, and so pretty with tiny details on each plate, like the pieces of fried salmon skin to garnish.

Anties ordered the ricotta and blueberry dumplings with poached fruit, thyme sand, labna and mapel. It was so good, you guys. We were loving it. The blueberry dumplings were also amazing, surrounded by fresh fruit, with a smear of labna and a sprinkling of icing sugar. Apparently, they were like doughnuts but without the heavy, oily feeling.
Cost-wise, EC exceeded my budget. But this was brunch, and brunch is my favourite meal, so I will forgive it for the $1.50 that capped off the usual $20. And also, because I don't know if you noticed, but I really liked this place. 

I'm a bit hesitant to say this, but Collective Espresso may be my favourite brunch place in Melbourne. There is always another place to try, but I can tell this will remain in the back of my head when someone brings up early morning eating.


3 Cookson Street, Camberwell

Mon - Fri 7 - 4

Sat - Sun 8 - 4

Good for: Monday-Friday Breakfasts and super coffee. I haven't been here on Saturday but I would assume it gets crazy, and I don't think you'd even get through the door without a wait on market days.
Vegetarians: Have a good share of decent, creative options. I liked the sound of the 'Spiced vegan ratatouille cannelloni beans'.
Seats: I'm not a big fan of communal tables (is anyone?) especially in a smaller cafe like this one, so for us, sitting outside is fine, providing the people you're seated between aren't too loud.
Wait time: None. We found a table out the front right away. It was about 8am though.
Food waiting time: Around 10 minutes.
Cost: I spent $21.50 all up, so it's a little over budget but totes worth it.


Collective Espresso on Urbanspoon


  1. This might surprise you to hear, but I've been here before on market days (I run a regular stall with my father) and it's usually completely empty, perhaps sans 1 or 2 people. It's too far and tucked away from the market for any of the marketgoers to know it's there.