Grey Street in St Kilda is similar to the creepy classic The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde in that it can have two very distinct sides; one of them not altogether pleasant (nowhere else in Melbourne are you more likely to see people sans underwear than here). Its seedy underbelly may never totally disappear but there is certainly an abundance of tasteful places popping up around this infamous street.
Making a strong mark on the strip is a cafe named after the 'good' character of Robert Louis Stevenson's story - Dr Jekyll. Run by ex-Orange employees Roy and Matthew this place is hospitality at its finest - you know, the kind where you are treated hospitably? The first thing I noticed as I waited for my coffee (apart from Matthew opening the door for everyone) is the rapport that these guys have with their patrons. Everyone is greeted warmly from the minute they enter. The owners even smile at you.
I perched in the front window to watch the world go by and was a bit bewildered by the lunch menu - prepared in an open kitchen - because everything on it sounded so evilly delicious. Sandwich choices included: house-cured ocean trout with ribbons of cucumber; Shaw River buffalo mozzarella (have mercy) with prosciutto; Istra capocollo with caramelised onions and cornichons. I mean really - what's a girl to do? I opted for what could be considered a 'safe' choice and ordered the poached chicken on sour dough.
The moist chicken was crammed into the soft bread along with avocado, baby spinach and a super creamy chive mayo. This was not your run of the mill chicken sanger, it was flavoursome, filling and obviously made with not only fresh ingredients but with love (I could taste it).
The coffee was so good that one wasn't enough and while I waited for my takeaway Roy and I got chatting. I found it a breath of fresh air that he wanted to know if worked or lived around his cafe, whether or not I enjoyed my lunch, what I was up to for the rest of the day etc. This is a man who cares about his clientele and obviously knows that a smile and some friendly chit chat goes a long way when it comes to repeat business.
And repeat I will! I have the lunch menu to work through and obviously haven't investigated breakfast so I look forward to spending many a lazy brunch in their courtyard and getting to know my new favourite local.