One might say Fitzroy needs not another cafe from the same old mould, that Stagger Lee's doesn't offer anything revolutionary, but still that hasn't stopped the hordes from filling this place every day of the week. Because this is Melbourne; we're fickle with our cafes, and if you throw us something shiny and new, with great coffee, a solid menu and some delicious menu surprises (pine mushrooms with truffled polenta, confit yolk and farmhouse croutons at $17.50, is the hero), we're sure to be yours — at least for a little while.
From the people responsible for popular Collingwood coffee haunt, Proud Mary, Stagger Lee's has come to a section of Brunswick Street in which stalwart Atomica has held a coffee monopoly for some time. And rivalling its neighbour in the latte stakes, it does. With single origin espresso, filter and cold drip varieties on offer, you're assured a good-tasting brew — just as the Proud Mary faithful would expect from this experienced crew.
Situated on a sunny corner, with outdoor seating and large retractable glass walls that open the space up and drench the large communal table with fresh air and sunshine when fully opened, the layout is smart and highly conducive to whiling away a few hours of an autumn morning.
A brief but appealing menu features muesli, eggs and a couple of gourmet surprises for brunch, along with baguettes, a double Black Angus burger ($17) and heftier dishes — like beef cheeks and barley ($20) — for lunch. A short wine, beer and cocktail list for 'those' Friday lunches adds to the well-rounded offering. The baked goods are interesting too: peanut butter and jelly tarts, cold drip and chocolate doughnuts and lavender and passionfruit lamingtons are among the treats you may spy sitting innocently at the counter.
While it's all served on of-the-moment turquoise and white ceramics and in an atmosphere of wooden bench seats, exposed brick walls and industrial pendant lights, there is enough of the good stuff here to excuse the trite. Actually, substitute 'good' with 'great' and there's no denying that Fitzroy's dining landscape receives yet another significant improvement.