St Rose is like a younger sibling that is determined to take steps two-at-a-time so they don’t miss out on any of the action. With the role models of Top Paddock, Three Bags Full and Auction Rooms, this small Essendon café has been taking quantum leaps in order to keep up with the big boys of Melbourne brunch. Like most siblings, St Rose accepts hand-me-down dining concepts with grace but is determined to set themselves apart from those who came before.
This Rose Street gem is reminiscent of Melbourne’s most successful brunch spots with a communal dining table, an exposed wood feature wall and indoor greenery, but its individuality still shines through. The light that streams through the big shop-front windows and bounces off the white-painted brick walls makes the small space seem triple its size and brightens the mood of all that wander through its always-open door. This creates a vibrant space where the reserved discussion found at other brunch spots is impossible. Instead laughter and chatter are the soundtrack to your breakfast, and phones and laptops play second fiddle to a good old-fashioned catch up.
The menu at St Rose similarly merges the old with the new to offer dishes to suit all tastes. Old fashioned scrambled eggs are enlivened with micro herbs and the bircher muesli is given some punch by being infused with coffee and coconut.
The chilli baked eggs pay homage to the newest brunchtime staple, but take the dish to a new level with a thick, smooth and intense tomato sauce that screams of love and care. The richness of the sauce is perfectly balanced by generous dollops of Persian feta and a sprinkling of crunchy hazelnut dukkah, and you will use up all of your hefty side serve of grain toast to ensure that none of the sauce goes to waste. The wholefoods trend seeps into the menu through the quinoa salad, which is a textual delight that pairs the soft pop of quinoa grains with the crunch of walnuts, a smooth slick of feta and bursts of cherry tomato.
Possibly the most important thing that St Rose inherited from its predecessors was an appreciation for the art of filter coffee. The café is one of the first to offer filter coffee in the western suburbs and it has been heartily embraced by many diehard cappuccino sippers. But this is not surprising considering they use Seven Seeds coffee beans, the beans of choice for many coffee specialists including Brother Baba Budan, Assembly and Common Galaxia.
With queues that sweep down Rose Street after 10 a.m., it is clear that St Rose bares resemblance to its siblings in more ways than one. The café is still in adolescence, but if it continues to build upon the best traits of its predecessors, it will not be surprising if St Rose is soon dining with the big kids.