Having tempted us with their coffee window (cleverly positioned on the path to Victoria Park station) for four months now, Dr Morse is now in full swing, complete with a newly-acquired liquor license, beer garden, roaring open fire and one of the best value burgers in Melbourne (big call, we know).
The space, on a corner beside the railway station, is a bit like a cat with nine lives. In the past few years it has been Kiss FM's pizza joint, followed by the Johnston Street Milk Bar and now, in its present reincarnation, Dr Morse. Originally, it appears, the space was an old apothecary, and the owners have restored some of the original features, including brick wall signage advertising Indian Root Pills ('for indigestion'). Hopefully this homage to its early successes will help the new owners to solidify their own.
It's an interesting space, and everything has been carefully considered. The open fire place is a huge plus, warming the noses and fingertips of the lucky group who nabs the sofa and ottoman seating around it, and the beer garden will be a joy in summer, with its own bar and a BBQ hinting at plans for the warmer months.
It's quite clear the aim here was to create a space that encouraged Sunday sessions and relaxed afternoons spent drinking craft cider and snacking on hand cut chips with chipotle aioli ($6). Or, looking to cure any Saturday night ills? The beef burger will do just that. It's perfectly sloppy, the bun is rich and buttery, and for $10, it's a steal. The organic quinoa salad with avocado, pistachio, pomegranate, corn and soft-boiled egg ($16) is as remedy of a different kind, and equally good value. In the mornings, the coffee window opens at 7am every day to give early morning commuters a caffeine hit and baked breakfast goods, before the main doors open up at 11.30am.
The focus with the drinks list is on local makers: Abbotsford's Moondog beer is on tap, the wine list favours small Victorian labels, and there is tea available from Collingwood's Storm in a Teacup.
Whatever your ailment, Dr Morse aims to cure it — or at least make you forget for a while.