I have to say that I lurve Rue Bebelons. Probably more bar than café, I haven't visited for after work drinks but it makes a great quick lunchtime pit stop. Very close to Melbourne Central, with its slightly wonky wooden tables and chequered table clothes it's more European than more typical Melbourne industrial in feel, a welcome break when feeling like going somewhere warm and cosy.
The food here is very simple, with the choice at lunch of four different kinds of baguettes and in winter a single soup. And that's it. It's basically the sort of food you could make at home, uncomplicated, filling and comforting. There's nothing special about it but it does show that whenever you use fresh ingredients and a modicum of care you're going to get a perfectly acceptable result.
The four different baguettes are salami, ham, pastrami and salad. As Snooze said, when you get beetroot in your pastrami baguette you know you're in Australia. Two size serves are offered, which I'd classify as large and huge, with the smaller $6.50 (I've never been hungry enough to order the huge). Generous with the pastrami and the salad fresh and slightly crunchy, Snooze likes the bread here although I find it a bit too chewy.
My choice on the day was the pumpkin soup. While I'm not a huge soup kind of guy I do like a good pumpkin soup, particularly when the weather is cold. I wouldn't have classified this as a good pumpkin soup, as a heavy hand with the coriander dominated the flavour of the soup. Still, I think I'd prefer it that way rather than weak and insipid.
But even if the food doesn't stand out the atmosphere, service and prices do. Somehow it manages to feel both cosy but not cramped, interestingly decorated but not busy. The staff get big ticks for being both friendly and efficient, in fact the blond guy who served us was excellent. There is a real knack to coming across as friendly and attentive when busy and he had it down pat. And when you can get a coffee, a decent baguette and change from a tenner, it has to count as one of the better value places around this part of town.
Just a great regular lunchtime haunt type place. I think they also do pizzas at night. Lots of fun and good value for money.
Food - 7
Service - 8
Ambience - 8
Price - 7.5
267 Little Lonsdale Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
Tel: (03) 9663 1700