I‘ve known about Dukes for ages. When I’d walked past it before it'd always looked busy, but also a little dark and forbidding. I'd also thought it was unlikely to have much to interest me, a non-coffee drinker. Well, one cold Sunday morning when our first choice wasn’t open we decided to give it a chance anyway, and boy did it prove me wrong.
First of all, it was just as dark inside as I'd expected. However, rather than feeling like a dark and dreary cave it was actually quite cosy. I think this was because the high ceiling and not sitting in our nearest neighbour's lap gave a sense of space. Early in the morning just after opening it was far less busy than usual which also probably contributed to this. It stands out in contrast to the much more grungy nearby cafes I’ve tried and enjoyed(Yellow Bird and Tyranny of Distance), and all the coffee sacks and paraphernalia towards the back of the cafe gives the impression they're serious about their coffee.
Food wise it’s definitely Melbourne modern but with a few twists which meant there were several dishes we wanted to try. After quite a bit of thought Snooze decided on the avocado hommus toast, with poached eggs, honey cured ham and dukkah. The very good nicely toasted bread and the perfectly poached eggs were spot on. Snooze was however not as rapt with the avocado hommus, finding the texture a little strange, and the texture of the ham bits varied: some were hard and others nicely tender.
My choice de jour was the corn and zucchini fritters, with spicy tomato relish, manchego cheese, spinach leaves, avocado and fried egg. I absolutely loved the corn and zucchini fritters, with their thin crispy outer shell, soft, fluffy middles and wonderful flavours which matched much better than I’d expected. Again a perfectly cooked egg and while I remember on the day I thought the rest of the dish was good, a few days later all I can think of is those fritters and the egg.
The breakfast dessert options looked pretty good too, and I ended up going with the apple and rhubarb crumble. It wasn't quite your normal crumble, with most of the crumble at the top and the bottom of the slice more cake like in texture. That being said it was delicious, generous in size, not too sweet and a little tangy from the rhubarb.
I enjoyed our visit here much more than I expected. Not too crowded on our visit, good service and delicious food. It's definitely one of the better cafes going and well worth a special trip to visit. Yes a little pricier than par but the quality is higher to match. My only caveat would be I haven’t been when they're flat out busy.
Food – 8.5
Service – 7.5
Ambience – 8
Price – 7
169 Chapel Street
Windsor VIC 3181
Tel: (03) 9521 4884