During a quick three day visit to Melbourne, Al and I were on a mission to taste a cup of coffee that was unlike anything we had tasted in our hometown of Brisbane. We are pretty fussy coffee drinkers as we have been spoilt by the blends and single origins that Al roasts for Blue Sky Coffee in Commercial Road, Newstead.
With the help of our friend google we found that St Ali continuously ranked high in the top ten coffee spots for Melbourne, so after checking into our hotel (The Blackman Art Series Hotel) we took a taxi to Yarra Street, South Melbourne. The taxi left and we quickly realised there was nothing in this street that resembled a coffee house. A walk to the end of the street revealed Yarra Place, a small laneway with some great graffiti artwork.
You’d never know a coffee hot spot existed in this tiny laneway in South Melbourne. Very discreet signage on a white washed brick wall, but as we walked closer you could hear the buzz coming from inside.
St Ali has a very retro, industrial feel. Odd chairs and tables, high ceilings, colourful wall art and an eclectic array of coffee lovers from guys in suits to families and couples of all ages. It’s breezy and a little bit noisy but there is something about the buzz that heightens your anticipation of receiving good food and coffee.
We were quickly seated and even before being offered menus, were asked what kind of coffee we wanted. There is no question that people come here for the coffee. We enjoyed a piccolo and a double shot latte while checking out the menu.
The breakfast menu is nothing short of amazing. Lola Berry’s (quinoa porridge cooked in coconut milk topped with summer berries), Sweet 16 & Never Been Kissed (roasted stone fruit, maple ricotta and freeze dried mint on brioche) 63 Degrees Above (eggs cooked for 63 minutes at 63 degrees, fried bread crumbs, cauliflower puree with white truffle oil and prosciutto), Omega Love (pastrami style smoke salmon, poached egg, kipfler potatoes and lemon aioli), My Mexican Cousin (corn fritters, rocket, haloumi, tomato chutney and poached egg).
The lunch menu features chicken and beef burgers, lamb, grilled sardines and salads. Al chose the St Ali Beef Royale with cheese, bacon, sweet onion, pickles and Russian dressing. I chose the Quinoa salad with roasted zucchini, lemon and mint. With lunch we each had a My Asian Cousin (apple, lychee and mint frappe). This was a very refreshing drink on such a hot day. I was disappointed I didn’t have more of an appetite as all of the food whizzing past our table looked fabulous. Oh well, just an excuse for another trip to Melbourne I guess.
We were lucky enough to spot the owner, Salvatore, who came and sat with us for a quick chat. Generously he took us for a short walk down the lane to the St Ali roasting space so Al could chat all things coffee with one of the St Ali roasters.
Foodie and coffee lovers, add St Ali to your ‘must do in Melbourne’ list, you won’t be disappointed.
12-18 Yarra Place, South Melbourne