Let’s be straight-up here. You’re going to Bedford Street for the fried chicken and waffles. Yes, they have a great fry-up breakfast option. Yes, they have a serviceable broccoli salad for those who like their arteries without a side of clogging. But the hero dish is indisputably the caramel-coloured stack of fried chicken and waffles drizzled with maple syrup and bourbon butter.
It’s served as a breakfast dish but also reappears on the lunch menu in sandwich form: the waffles are missing so instead you get two thick doorsteps of pillowy white bread and a hearty stuffing of BBQ slaw. In keeping with the all-day American diner theme, it’s rounded out by other heart attack dishes such as mac ‘n’ cheese pancakes served with grilled cheese, southern-fried vegan cutlets made from sweet potato and pumpkin, and ‘popped spiced chicken feed’ – yep, they’re selling it, and Collingwood’s locals are buying it.
Fronted by the team behind Wide Open Road and Heartattack & Vine, the aim of Bedford Street is to provide an all-day restaurant where you can pop in for breakfast as well as dinner. The fit-out is reminiscent of a ‘70s university cafeteria or perhaps an unused set from the movie ‘Natural Born Killers’. There’s a long bar, a light-drenched dining space, and well-chosen retro touches such as long russet red banquettes and low-hanging pale green fluorescents. Waitstaff wear black and move swiftly; as they work from table to table you may notice they wear shirts which subtly spruik the deep-fried dessert dishes with the slogan, ‘Pie Til I Die’.
Due to the overarching carnivorous and par-crumbed nature of the menu, there aren’t too many vegetarian options: beyond the aforementioned vegan cutlet and broccoli salad, the only real contenders are a taco salad and fried eggs on Dr Marty’s crumpets. But when you’re at a place which prides itself on its fanatical celebration of fried chicken and chunky main courses like pork chop ‘schnitty’, it’s not really surprising.
On the drinks front, the coffee comes from Wide Open Road (naturally), and in the tradition of other cafe greats in the area (Mario’s, Everyday Coffee), Bedford Street refuses to use skim milk. As well as a batch of the Bedford Street blend, you can try two types of chai, six types of tea, and a variety of soft drink. There’s fresh juice, too, which you can get thrown in with any house spirit for just $10.
If you’re after more sophisticated tipples, the short but sweet wine menu will please you. It mostly features local blends and nearly everything is offered by the glass. There are also four beers are on tap in pony, pot and pint size – and you can even get a ‘quaddie’ of ponies if you’re chronically indecisive or a beer dilettante.
Cocktail-wise, an inspired twist on the Bloody Mary combines gin, tomato juice, citrus fruits and house spice with peppered kangaroo jerky, while a medley of bacon-washed bourbon, thyme syrup, egg white and aromatic bitters offers the perfect accompaniment to a Sunday arvo fry-up. There’s also a classic Gin Rummy with the interesting addition of pomegranate molasses and a lethal martini seasoned with house okra brine.
Overall, Bedford Street is doing something different with its all-day license and all-purpose menu, but the food and service is so familiar and comforting that it won’t bemuse you at all when it seems like it’s always been there.
Want the location, opening hours, and all the details? Find Bedford Street on The Directory.
Image Credit: Griffin Simm