Duchess of Spotswood

87 Hudsons Rd
Spotswood, VIC 3015
03 9391 6016

It’s almost inexplicable how a café in the middle of quiet suburbia can be so explosively popular. I remember a few months ago, Lachlan had asked me whether I’d been to the Duchess. When I told him no, his eyes widened into large discs “OMG, you HAVE to go…!”.
A few weeks hence, I started a curious Sunday drive across muddy green industrial waste-scapes with Willem. We went under the West Gate Bridge, my little car twisting around factories and plants, and finally into Hudson St. Waiting at the train tracks, I scanned Spotswood’s main street ahead… all the shops seemed closed. You know those cowboy films where you get tumbleweeds rolling across the street? Yeah, it was that devoid of life. But as we inched closer, a twinkle of emerald green sparkled at the corner of our eyes… there it is! We found the place!!!
Hello, warmth and sustenance! Hello, sweet reprieve from farawayness and quiet towns. Brunch is soon to happen, and I trust good coffees will be at hand shortly. I’m a happy man.
It isn’t a big place. In fact, the coffee making, cooking and eating all happens in the same squished up room. On warmer days, you can also sit outside on a communal table. Service was warm, congenial and camera friendly.
Willem’s Strong Latté
Small Batch Specialty Coffees
3/4 Latté on the left; Flat White on the right
They use Candyman beans from Auction Rooms here, and they also have a guest blend through the week. I found the coffees here had rounded flavours and my flat white held a fleeting aftertaste of burning firewood. Personally, I loved it. Willem, on the other hand, found the coffees “inoffensive… it’s good, but they’re not taking any risks”. Ha ha ha!
They use dulche sugar here. It’s a soft crumbly raw sugar made from dried unrefined sugar cane juice. Rare and gorgeous.
I remember a bunch of bloggers discussing why the Duchess is so good. One of them said it is like fine dining, only brunch-style and affordable! I thought that was such a cute way to put it. The menu is very English, and it’s also full of puns like “Breakfast Of Champignons” and “Coronation Chicken”.
Prince of Wales $15.50
House smoked salmon fillet with potato pancake, poached egg, and sourdough toast
Willem had this, it was a lot more interesting than we expected, I loved the presentation. Well seared salmon steak, perfect poached egg, still runny, and a pea-like purée at the bottom adding sweetness. The only let down for him were the potato pancakes. They looked lovely but were quite fragile with a loose texture and not much taste. I had some of the smoked salmon and thought it tasted exquisite.
Crumbed Lambs Brain $16,50
with anchovy fillets, gentleman’s salad, poached egg, and sourdough toast
This was one of the day’s specials, as narrated by the serving girl. Lachlan had warned me that they generally do quirky must-have specials here, so I went ahead with it.
Great choice, it’s difficult to make brains taste good, but the amazing crumbed outsides pulled everything together for me. The brains sat on a wonderful relish of anchovy fillets, capers and shallots. I only baulked a little with a larger piece of brrraaaiinn, where I’d embarked on a lengthy culinary expedition towards its centre and thought it’s just too much unctuous cranial creaminess.

Any of you play Plants VS Zombies?


Willem waited for me to finish my dish before pointing out how nice that you can distinguish between the grey and white matter… D_D
Calmer Sutra Chai $4.00
I’d thought I’d become clever after eating brains, but I’d only become a bit more botanical palate-wise. Yes, the brains were lovely, but let’s steer away from any more offal for perhaps a week or so… *blush* Asian fail. But don’t get me wrong, I loved the dish.
But just to stretch conversation a little longer, Willem grabbed another coffee while I had a chai. The chai had a good balance of milkiness and spiced deliciousness, and I liked how the honey came in a runny easy pour consistency. It’s little details like this that makes a place so seamlessly pleasurable.

Visit 2

Just so I could discover more of the menu, I returned here with fakegf and fag stag a few Sundays later. Yes, there was quite a strong pull-back factor here. We were seated outside this time, it was a sunny but windy day. The wind blew apart my coffee’s foam art.

Magic $3.50
Guest blend from St Ali

While I’ve not really had good coffees from St Ali, this cup was wonderful. Strong and creamy, and yet also fruity, light and floral. At one sip, I thought I could even taste grape!

Idle Tongues $16.50
Seared ox tongue with smoked semolina, crispy pork neck, and fried duck egg
Oh my heavens, chef Andrew Gale really blew us off our feet with this dish. If we were wearing skirts, our knickers would be in full display. It was so yummy! Fatty tender melt-in-the-mouth tongue cooed to perfection. (I meant to type ‘cooked’ but ‘cooed sounded like a fortuitous pun. I learn fast, O’ Duchess!)
The smoked semolina was creamy and you can actually taste the smokiness. There was also some bacon in that stack of goodness and Jo donated some of it to me. Luckybooo!
Duchess of Pork $18.50
Crispy pig’s jowl with fried egg, rich truffle sauce, and sourdough toast
I was doubly envious to see fag stag’s dish come out just as amazingggg, Tender, delicious, succulent and wonderfully flavoured cheekiness. Fag stag quite simply said “yum, I can eat 4 more plates that”. At one point, I had another nibble and it somewhat reminded me of corned beef, lol. Fakegf queried whether the flesh was so deep flavoured because of the truffle? Again the dish was very rich, and like Idle tongues, I loved the way they seared the meat.
Winter Salad $16.50
with pears, candied walnuts, dry cured bacon, English Stilton, and a deep-fried smoked egg on crispy sourdough
It’s a sad truth that a food blogger might choose an item on menu that they didn’t exactly want because they don’t want to order the same as their companions. The winter salad looked appealing, but I really wanted what fakegf and fag stag had. But guess what? My dish was again a smash hit.
Well… salad with walnuts, cheese, pear, it’s a common combination, so why did it still come out so good? I thought it was the quality of ingredients and how it’s put together. Everything looked like a jumbled mess on my plate, but the flavours and textures that came together were amazing. Sticky crunchy caramelised walnuts, fragrant pear, crispy bacon and fantastic Stilton cheese.
I had to excavate the candied walnuts from the bottom of my plate. Feeling like a culinary miner, I was really digging what I was doing for my food. Oh dear, I’m full of puns today. Also, fakegf was amazed by the crumbed and deep fried poached egg, it was still soft and runny inside.
For a salad, this certainly wasn’t a light dish
You probably won’t understand why the Duchess is so appealing to brunch at until you’ve been there. I like how it’s located at such a deserted suburban village. Food’s great, coffees are good and service is warm. And looking at the map, it’s actually really close to my home. OMG, I’m soo coming back again!
I’ve also visited The Duchess for her dinner service, you may want to read that here.
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