In Short: Saint James Café in Melbourne’s quaint inner suburb of Malvern blends the best of traditional English favourites with a flare that delivers plates on par with the city’s best cafes. The local feel of the space, with its attention to quality and flavour, make for the ideal stage to enjoy comfort food at it’s best. Tip: The Fish Finger Butty is to die for!
As the member of the Coco & Vine team with a family heritage that reaches back to the UK, it felt a little like revisiting fond food memories of my youth when we stepped into the English-inspired environs of Saint James Café in Melbourne’s quaint suburb of Malvern.
Saint James blends the comfort food traditions from the Union Jack side of the Atlantic with modern Aussie café flare, producing plates that not only ooze with delicious comforting charm, but also ‘wow’ with presentation and quality that rival any top Melbourne café.
And while the food is certainly a big draw card at Saint James, they are definitely no lightweight when it comes to all matters caffeinated. With flat whites, french presses, long blacks, and the like, all powered by These Days Coffee Roasters, the barista is able to distill magic into every cup.
The Coco & Vine team have come in force to Saint James Café, and Sacha opts to sample the roast via a classic French Press. What emanates from the quaint coffee contraption is a brew that is beautifully bold with tastes of summer berries in a refined fruity finish. Bravo to the barista!
Not to neglect the Aussie café staple, I test drive the flat white. It flutters to the table with a silky lightness in its froth and a decadent richness in its base. It’s a blend that pairs perfectly with the mingling milk and feels both sophisticated in its notes, yet accessible to all.
OK, so on to the main event… the food! We kick it off with the eternally English Fish Finger Butty. This, my friends, is no mere fish burger; this is the embodiment of comfort and flavour that defies the list of its humble ingredients. It’s the sauce, it’s the juicy, crispy rockling, it’s the crushed pea aioli, need I go on? Just look at it… a tower of tasty testament to all that’s English that rivals the Tower of London.
Just to mix it up a little, the kitchen shows off with a vibrant granola that explodes with so much colour and texture that it reminds us of the recent New Year’s fireworks. The Superfood Granola crowns a base of goodness with mango coulis, mixed berries, and grilled pineapple to create a bowl that is just as much a feast for the eyes as it is for a healthy body.
A classic OJ is a nice little palate punctuator and cleanser while we catch our breath in preparation for the next wowsers from the accomplished kitchen.
Back to a personal favourite, the Potato Rosti. Talk about striking the ideal balance between crispy outer and custardy smooth inner! Accompanied by silky and slightly sweet cauliflower puree, roasted cauliflower, pickled beetroot, salsa verde, smoky bacon, and a perfectly poached, ooey gooey egg, these pair of rosti are reason alone to drag yourself out of bed and down to Saint James.
Now, black pudding can be a bit of a polarising menu item to the uninitiated. Its reputation as a stodgy dish from a bygone era often unfairly precedes it. However, Rob’s Black Pudding bares no affiliation with the bland puddings of old. It’s peppery and bright with flavour that never feels heavy. The sidekicks of fried egg, goats feta, patatas bravas, mojo verde, and garlic croutons all work to compliment the pudding notes. They lift this plate to something that is not only welcoming to black pudding newbies, but also to a contemporary dish that fits right into any modern Aussie café menu.
Temptations abound at Saint James! The sweets case at the front counter makes it hard to stick to any of our New Year’s resolutions, with cookies, slices and all things nice to top off a brekkie or lunch visit.
And if you’re on the move, grabbing a Tuna Melt or crunchy Toastie with a brew of your choice might just be the comfort hit to keep you going through a long afternoon of meetings at work.
Saint James is everything you’d want in a friendly local café, but goes one step further with a menu that not only brings the best of British tradition to the leafy streets of Melbourne, but does it with flare and finesse to make old Liz proud.
*Coco & Vine dined as guests of Saint James Cafe. However, all images and opinions are our own.