Londoners at heart we don’t feel the need for a car, so when we want to travel further afield (dare we say it, across the river) we rely on our trusty scooter – he is a bit beat up so we call him Steven Seagal. We had heard much about The Duchess of Spotswood since our arrival in Melbourne. But there was also the small issue of the Westgate Bridge, which I have ridden over once but having almost being blown over four lanes of traffic have vowed to cross never again.
But curiosity got the better of me and I have kept coming back to Google maps trying to see if the journey can be done any other way. I had a suggestion of using the punt boat service from Port Melbourne, which seemed like the only viable option until a few weeks ago when I found myself lost – further from than the corner of Spencer and Queensberry St than I had planned. this was it – an alternative route to Spotswood. And what better reason to visit than teeing it up with a visit to the Yarraville Festival.
The Duchess of Spotswood is a quaint old shopfront perched on a road that eventually ends in an industrial estate and Scienceworks – at least exhausted parents can look forward to a decent coffee and food. In a previous life it was a butcher and an artist’s studio but has become one of the most talked about brunch spots (and now open for dinner with a liquor licence) outside inner Melbourne.
With Small Batch coffee rolling out in baby blue and black cups, it is a wise choice and well worth paying the extra 50c for the Single Orgin of the Day – citrusy with a sweet edge.
English in name and English in nature, the menu – which thankfully is not solely focussed on either eggs or smashed avocado – highlights the team’s British heritage. Tossing up what to have, we engaged a number of fellow brunchers who had all ordered the Neptune’s Wench – Cured salmon, smoked trumpeter, house made fish cake, and white anchovies with cardamom pickled vegetables. They raved that this dish made the journey worth it and if we did not order it this time then we would still have to come back and sample it.
It is not often that I am stumbling over what to order for brunch but the menu had a decent slection of meaty dishes. I settled on the slow roasted shoulder of lamb with mint sauce and salad on sourdough. The lamb was succulent and falling apart. The mint sauce complemented the meat and was not sickly sweet as we are used to in Australia but quite muted, like you would get in the UK. Funnily enough it was the salad component of the dish that let the side down. The salad dressing seemed to be a very sweet mayo that clashed with the savoury elements of the plate.
WordMonkey decided on the Simple Pleasures, which was a fresh tasting combination of heirloom tomatoes with creamy goat’s curd on Zeally Bay sourdough with two poached eggs. Upon hearing her say “look – the eggs are done perfectly” and slicing through until they burst, the smile said everything. The goats curd is a genius idea as well – one that many other cafes will eventually use.
There is good reason why the Melbourne brunch crowd crow about this standout place, and we will be planning a return visit to see what they can rustle up for dinner.
Note: I have heard many complaints about long waiting lines – but we arrived at around 12.30/45 on a Saturday afternoon and a number of tables were free.
Duchess of Spotswood
87 Hudsons Road, Spotswood