Saturday, August 3, 2019

Hunters & Disciples, West Melbourne by Foghorn Leghorn

I’m a long term fan of Southbank restaurant Tutto Bene, so I was pretty keen when I heard that their former chef Nathan Scarfo has opened up a café in West Melbourne. What’s more, it was a trip to the old neighbourhood, because I lived in West Melbourne for a couple of years in the early 1980s.

The café, Hunters & Disciples, is in a courtyard off Spencer Street. My recollection is that this was a truck depot, and the drivers used to drink at my local, the Moomba Hotel (now a backpacker place). The renovated café space is cool and funky industrial: polished concrete, exposed ducts and cables, with a spacious feeling that comes from the high ceilings of the original building. There’s background music at just the right volume.

Hunters & Disciples, West Melbourne, charcuterie board
Charcuterie board

The menu is café style, mainly muesli, eggs, toast and a few other odds and ends. There’s a specials board with pasta, soup and pizza. The café is still waiting for its liquor licence, so drinks are limited to non-alcoholic.

After a bit of discussion, I went for the spinach and ricotta gnocchi (from the specials board), and Tam O’Shanter chose the Hunter Burger. There’s also a breakfast burger on the menu, but hard experience has taught us to avoid anything with this description. One thing a breakfast burger doesn’t contain is a burger. There should be a law against it, but there isn’t yet.

As our food arrived, Nathan Scarfo came to say hello. He’s a bit calmer than I remember him from Tutto Bene – previously when I tried to photograph him it was very difficult, because he never stood still. Now he’s in a slightly different mode, running a café staffed by catering students. His take-away is that the students are good fun, and there’s less pressure than running a fine-dining restaurant seven nights a week.

Hunters & Disciples, West Melbourne, gnocchi
The gnocchi were fresh and reasonably fluffy, but the portion was small for me. In fact, small portions are the main reason I rarely eat in cafes. Recently I had lunch at a swish new café in Lygon Street and ended up buying a second lunch at the nearby Student Union.

Hunters & Disciples, West Melbourne, hamburger
The hamburger, though, was the full deal. It’s made from Cape Grim beef, which is what I buy when I want the best steak. It’s grass-fed, giving it a more distinctive taste than the grain-fed equivalent. This particular burger was still pink inside, so it retained the full flavour. The accompanying chips were sprinkled with a touch of seaweed. On reflection, if I had to choose again, I would definitely choose the burger.

To stave off hunger pangs, I ordered a charcuterie board (see first pic). This turned out to be a feast of different savoury flavours, with various pickles, cured meats, cheese and garlic toast. A glass of red wine would have been the perfect accompaniment.


We loved it
We loved it.
Cheap eats
Cheap eats.


Overall, it was a very pleasant visit. As mentioned, the staff are all students. Sometimes they’re a bit uncertain of what they’re doing, but their breezy manner more than makes up for it. The café seems to be a hangout for students between classes, so overall it’s a young crowd.

There are some small downsides. The café is a bit hard to find. Fortunately I came on foot, so I saw the small sign by the entrance – if you were driving past you could miss it. The menu is in small print. That’s not a problem for students, of course, but the way to flatter older customers is to give them a menu with large print, so they think their eyesight is still good.

I will definitely drop in to Hunters & Disciples the next time I’m in the neighbourhood, and I’ll definitely try the Hunter Burger. Pricing is good, too, with both the burger and the gnocchi at $14.

The Eat and Be Merry Crew were guests of Hunters & Disciples.

Find it at

Hunters & Disciples
39/617 Spencer Street
West Melbourne VIC 3003
Phone: 1300 555 749

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