HOT: De Clieu, 187 Gertrude St, Fitzroy

De Clieu is the hottest cafe on the Gertrude Street strip at the moment and it was one of the reasons I’d avoided it till now. The crowd overspilling into the footpath tables and lounging in the frame of the large street-facing windows seemed too cool for school (or at least too cool for me) and there always seemed to be a line of people waiting to get inside – and when a pregnant lady is hungry she has to eat RIGHT NOW.

The second reason I’d not been hunting it down since it opened in October is because I’m not a coffee drinker – and De Clieu is the brainchild of the coffee maestros behind Seven Seeds and Brother Baba Budan. I wasn’t sure whether their food menu was a coffee afterthought and whether I’d actually be able to add anything to the blogosphere love for this place.

Well, I’m pleased to say for all you non-coffee drinkers out there, the food at De Clieu is top-notch. The menu is small (one page) but interesting and while yes, the atmosphere is definitely cool, it’s still friendly and welcoming.

If you can’t snag a prized street-side view, then draw up an old-school chair inside the corridor of brushed concrete, wood and white hospital tiles, a look which epitomises Melbourne’s brand of warehouse chic thanks to architects Six Degrees. If you sit in front of the cake cabinet filled with Little Bertha delights and croissants from Dench, you get an even better view :–)

My order of lentil and rice pancake with spicy coconut, pea and potato filling sand green mango yoghurt ($13) was a beautifully presented wheaten round encasing a spill of fragrant coconut sauce with a surprisingly high heat quotient. A highly recommend tangent away from your usual breakfast and lunch cafe fare.

I’m not sure whether it’s because I’m eating for two (ha!) but I didn’t feel quite full enough after it, so went for a second lunch course of thick cut grain bread from neighbour Fatto a Mano with balsamic roasted sardines, red onion, parmesan and squishy roasted tomatoes ($10.50). It was generally a satisfying two-hander sandwich but I had small two gripes with it – the filling was too cold and presented a not very pleasant contrast to the warmly toasted bread, and while it’s good to know that they didn’t just open a tin of John West for the filling, I had to extract two spiky fins while biting into my lunch.

Overall my lunch at De Clieu was relaxed and tasty and many reviews tell me that the coffee is excellent (such as Eat, Drink, Stagger, Melbourne Culinary Journal and The Age). The cafe is a winning formula for the Fitzroy set, fixies, skinny jeans and coffee-drinking optional.

    De Clieu, 187 Gertrude St, Fitzroy +61 3 9416 4661

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8 thoughts on “HOT: De Clieu, 187 Gertrude St, Fitzroy

  1. Wow, the rice pancake really looks quite interesting! I’d think that’s more of a lunch dish than breakfast, but definetly an interesting twist.

    Nice to know they do decent food, since I’m not a coffee drinker either! Might need to pop by during the week and hope it’s not so busy….

  2. This cafe has been a favourite of mine since it opened (managed to go in on the 2nd day it was open by chance). And maybe because I went there from the start I wasn’t at all phased by the ‘too cool for school’ attitude. Plus I always go there with my toddler in tow! I have found the staff quite friendly and nice particularly towards my child.

    I love the food there and I think the decaf coffee is great (I know, how shameful), but their hot chocolates are to die for! Made with real dark chocolate, it makes my day. :)

  3. I walk passed De Clieu every day, and what strikes me is the lack of atmosphere. People trying to be cool instead of just just being cool, and having a good ole yarn and laugh with their friends.
    What’s with the chips served with (almost) every meal… I don’t get it. Do they still do that? I thought the food was fairly greasy and disappointing considering their kitchen looks very well equipped. decked out with the latest shiny. The coffee is good though.

  4. I almost always pass by De Clieu and have entertained the idea of eating there but I’m not a fan of waiting in line. But the food looks so good! Your pancake looks interesting. I may change my mind about waiting. :)

  5. Really excited by this place, looked great inside, terrific location but my own personal experience was very disappointing.

    I had the day off so thought this a treat to enjoy a slow breakfast while others rushed in and out on the way to work.
    I arrived at around 8.30, was invited to sit and placed an order for tea – which to my delight was the best cup of tea i’ve ever had at a cafe in melbourne (usually cafe’s like to specialise in weak puddle water) but no menu was forthcoming.

    Eventually a menu was literally placed on the table as the waiter walked past – it could have been for anybody. I waited over 20 minutes and nobody asked if i was hungry or even still alive.

    So I left very disappointed, and wont be going back. The lack of service was certainly not due to lack of staff, i’ve never seen so many staff in a cafe, goodness knows what they were doing.

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