Newly opened café Hamlet in Mount Waverley has all the hallmarks of café mogul Julien Moussi’s epic catalog of hugely successful cafes. He owns over 25 venues and has his own coffee roasting business, so you can assume he has this down to an art.
It’s in an unassuming strip of very Mount Waverley shops, announcing itself with its name in roof to pavement on its side wall.
It opened just over two weeks ago and when I went on Tuesday morning it was full of locals already. Ladies lunching, business meetings, people dropping in for a coffee and a mother’s group had spilled so effortlessly into their gorgeous outdoor area.
Stone floors and counter tops are matched with woods and rattan with earthy tones that spill out to the street. Natural light fills the spaces, the coffee is tasty, and the service is great.
I sat next to the peep window to try and get a sneak peek at the meals coming out, the variation and colours between meals was delightful. The kitchen is in good hands with executive chef Franky Pham, who was formally at St. Cloud, Young’s Wine Room, Vue de Monde, Di Stasio (casually). You’ll notice the Asian influence, particularly in the lunch menu – chicken larb, peanut butter noodles, braised duck — but they very much have the eggs benny and waffles as well.
I split my order into a two-prong system – I wanted to try a breaky staple and something a bit different from their menu.
What’s the most quintessential Melbourne breaky item to use as a yard stick? Of course, it’s smashed avo on toast.
This was no ordinary smashed avo though, they topped it with whipped feta (my absolute favourite way to have feta, if this is on any menu you can guarantee I’ll like it), dukkah and golden beetroot. They don’t do things in halves. Tick of approval from me.
Ok, so they’ve made it through one half of my two-pronged system. Time for phase two…
Yellow braised duck salad, let’s get into it. You’ve got the duck, macadamia tofu, fried cauliflower, tabbouleh, pickled cucumbers and puffed quinoa. The puffed quinoa is more like crispy quinoa, so you get these wonderful bits of crunch to balance out the rest of the texture, perfect way to complete the bowl. If I lived nearby to this café, I would have to try very hard to not get this for lunch every day. It was one of those salads that makes you question why the salads you make at home don’t taste this good; but then you realise it’s probably because they’re not trying to be healthy, it’s just trying to be tasty.
I also had to get something out of the sweets cabinet – for the listeners, of course. Had to get a thorough review.
I tried the brownie and shared it with my housemate. I personally prefer less walnuts more brownie, but she said it was one of the best brownies she’s ever tasted. So, depending on whether you’re a walnut person, they could have a winning brownie sitting in their front cabinet.
Prices are typical for a Melbourne cafe – $20 for most main meals, $5 for sweets, $4 starting point for coffees.
If you live in the area, it’s a must try, you’ve officially got a new local! If you’re a bit further out or passing by it, it’s worth popping in and trying their heavy weight menu which effortlessly nails both experimental and staple meals.