Nestled behind a service station, down some cobblestone alleys, past a greasy mechanic and hidden snugly behind huge red stable doors is arguably one of the most secret and unique cafes in Carlton. Named after a 1960's handbill advertising the medicinal and therapeutic properties for coffee, Vertue of the Coffee Drink is all about the black brew.
It's no surprise then that founder, Mike Cracknell, and his team of passionate (and highly caffeinated) staff are putting the coffee first. Operating as an in-house micro roaster, cafe and coffee paraphernalia retail outlet, the space is full of sunlight and warmth. Natural timbers, copper light fittings, high ceilings and a leafy green wall garden enrich the place with a relaxed and inviting feel, perfect for large groups and solo coffee drinkers alike.
The open kitchen window allows a glimpse of what's to come to your table with an all-day breakfast offering of the usual favourites, and a few surprises. For something a little more adventurous, order the chickpea chips with charred asparagus, preserved cherry tomato with poached egg ($18), or the scotch eggs with onion marmalade, crispy pig skin and brioche ($21). And with the kitchen open until 3pm daily, the lunch offerings are just as tempting; eight hour lamb shoulder with dukkah, baby broccoli and tabbouleh ($22) and a heirloom tomato and stone fruit salad with feta-stuffed zucchini flowers and hazelnut vinaigrette ($18) take the top spots.
As well as the exceptional pour overs, batch brews and espresso there are some stronger adult drinks available with a neat selection of beers, cider and wine. For those looking to get away from bustling Lygon Street for a great coffee and bite to eat, Vertue is well worth hunting down and checking out.
Image credit: Tomas Zagoda & Greg Curio via Instagram