This week’s lunch was Di Bella Coffee Roasting Warehouse in North Melbourne. This coffee house is the Victorian flagship for the Queensland-based Di Bella coffee company … apparently Di Bellas made Australia’s fastest growing companies for 2006 and 2007, with more than 800 cafes across the country selling Di Bella coffee. The powers of Google research!
Since Di Bella’s focus is the coffee it caters more to the breakfast and lunch crowd, closing at 4ish every day. But its first love doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a healthy respect for food and décor. The food is respectable and the décor fun … most of it's a sort of industrial chic meets natural wood with a touch of Italy. After we finished our meal Big Fil and I explored two more rooms at the rear, each with quite different approaches. One even had indoor artificial grass (which weirded Big Fil out a bit) and right at the back are sofas … clearly something for everyone.
Because Di Bellas is about the coffee I’ll start with that. And because this is a coffee place (and Big Fil and I don’t drink coffee … imagine that!), we met up with my daughter Miss C, who loves coffee, and works a five minute walk away. Despite her tender years, Miss C is a coffee aficionado … none of that nasty instant for her. I’ll also add that she has some training as a barista, (at McCafe after school), so perhaps her credentials are in spite that. Her coffee of choice was a skinny latte and her rating … a very respectable 8/10. (PS No photo of the coffee, but Di Bellas has a very respectable selection of coffee equipment and, of course, Di Bella coffee for purchase).
By the time Miss C got her lunch it was clearly her day: a good coffee, and the best lunch of the day paid for by Mummy! Her calamari arrived hot and appetising looking, with everybody getting to share. The calamari was tender without a trace of toughness and a dash of heat—maybe chilli—and a sliver of lime for tartness. It arrived with a salad topped with a drizzle of paprika mayonnaise that Miss C felt was a little on the greasy side for her. What she did enjoy, though, was the side of mashed avocado with either lemon or lime juice, salt and pepper. I’d like the whole plate to myself if I visit again.
If one’s on the menu (burger, that is) the burgermeister will go for it … this time around, a chicken burger. Plain and simple food but neither good or bad … more a “workmanlike chicken burger” to use Big Fil’s words, although I recall on the day a reference to a coriander sauce and chargrilled capsicum raising it a little above the commonplace. It arrived accompanied by chips that were a little too crispy on the outside.
With breakfast on the cards all day I went with the scrambled eggs. I’ve been burnt a few times lately with eggs topped with overly rich béarnaise sauce and I went with what I thought would be something simpler. It was compared with recent meals … but it wasn’t at the same time. The eggs were denser and heavier than usual, probably because of the truffle oil used, and the asparagus and artichoke moved it from breakfast to something more substantial. But this didn’t detract at all in my book and I had to eat every bite of what must have been four eggs. Down sides … toast so crispy an electric knife would have been handy to cut it.
It’s easy to understand why Di Bella’s would be a favourite with many for breakfast and coffee. I liked the hum to the place with people constantly coming and going and the staff were great. I felt as though we were visiting with old friends and it’s nice seeing people enjoy their jobs so much. The cakes looked good as well although we didn’t try any on the day. The major irritant on the day: Big Fil finished his meal before Miss C and I even got ours. And I would have liked a little more guidance (like a sign) telling where to order and how to pay as it was hard working out where to line up.
Food – 7.5
Ambience - 8
Service - 7
Price – 7.5
19-21 Leveson Street
North Melbourne VIC 3051
Tel: (03) 9329 2973