Rear 287 Coventry Street
South Melbourne VIC 3205
+61 9690 2688
I don’t usually get excited over dessert places but with South Melbourne’s Chez Dré, I’m happy to make an exception.
Every time I see the cafe’s name, images of Dr Dre walking into a French restaurant in a small American town in the 1980s come to mind. Alas, the café does not pay tribute to the rapper himself but rather, chef Andrea Riess who worked in Michelin-starred eateries in France before opening up shop in Melbourne.
True to Melbourne style, the café’s location is somewhat inconspicuous – you need to do a sharp left on 287 Coventry Street, walk up the cobblestoned laneway and open a door. Before you know it, you find yourself in a huge warehouse-like space that’s reminiscent of South Melbourne’s former working class roots.
On weekends, you should expect to wait a fair bit but a lovely attendant will take your name and number down and give you an expected wait time so you can head over to South Melbourne market for some groceries before it’s time to head back to the café.
I’ve been to Chez Dré twice already and both times with Jen. On both occasions, we enjoyed brunch elsewhere before coming here for some desserts. I like that there is a constant rotation of cakes, pastries and macarons here to keep excitement levels up but on the other hand, it’s always sad when you really enjoyed something on your first visit, only to find that it’s not on the menu anymore.
Such was the case with a cake that Jen ordered when she visited last time – it has since failed to make another appearance (and I’ve failed to remember what cake it was). Instead, Jen settled for a chocolate passionfruit mousse cake ($8.50). The cake’s texture was soft and airy, almost like a sponge. What we really liked about this was the small pool of passionfruit curd in the middle of the cake, breaking the chocolatey-ness. The handmade chocolate chocolate truffle was also a cute little touch.
I was keen to try their famous salted caramel éclairs but was bummed to find out that they had sold out that day. Damn. Instead, I settled for the vanilla éclair ($7.50), which was still pretty good. The choux pastry was filled with a lovely vanilla crème pâtissière, making it a technically perfect éclair. It was easily the best éclair I’ve ever had but then again, I haven’t had that many.
I also bought some macarons in salted caramel, lime & basil and mango flavours. At $3 each, they’re not cheap but they’re almost as good as La Belle Miette’s ones. I guess my only criticism was they almost erred to the ‘too sweet, can’t taste the actual flavours they were meant to represent’ side but other than that, I would not hesitate to order these again.
The next time we were at Chez Dré, Jen had the French vanilla cheesecake with mandarin ($8.50). I’m not a fan of cheesecake (too heavy, imo) but I liked this one – it was the lightest cheesecake I’ve ever had and I loved the way the mandarin jelly infused well with the vanilla.
I finally got a chance to try the salted caramel éclair ($7.50). I did prefer this to the vanilla one because well, duh, caramel. However, I didn’t think it was ‘salted’ enough to be considered a salted caramel éclair. It was nevertheless a beautiful éclair – technically perfect just like the vanilla one, only with the added bonus of having those toffee notes mingle in my tastebuds.
We had a very good strike rate at Chez Dré and I can certainly see myself coming back if I’m in the area whether it’d be for a meal or for a spot of market shopping. Chez Dré also do brunches so it would be good to also give their savoury dishes a go too. If I can’t be bothered waiting 30 minutes for a table though, I’d make an effort to go on a weekday.