Be The Duck has opened on Burnley St, and our list of Melbourne’s Best Cafe Names has a brand new addition. Yep, this place has been a long time coming. Burnley St, particularly the bit north of Bridge Rd, isn’t known for having an awesome foodie spread. But thanks to chef and owner Tom Skocic, that’s all starting to change.
Let’s get the name out of the way first. Skocic was working a crazy service at Hare & Grace, when the head chef looked him right in the eye and said “Be the duck.”
“It’s a lesson I’ve taken with me,” Skocic says. “No matter how crazy stuff gets, just be the duck. Stay calm.”
That little pearl of wisdom has seen Skocic, who came late to the hospitality game, serve in kitchens all over town, including two years under Raymond Capaldi at Hare & Grace. The experience shows. Be The Duck is his first solo venture, but Skocic isn’t afraid to get a bit ambitious with the menu. We tried the Asian Chilli Eggs: a fire-red scramble of Korean chilli paste, masterstock mushrooms and big hunks of pork lardons, served with two killer-crunch homemade prawn crackers. It leaves your mouth feeling like a K-Pop dance party.
Expect a few regulars—top-notch eggs benny, oats and fruit salad etc—and a few surprises too. Take The Nest: two soft-boiled mousseline-glazed eggs, shaved asparagus, grissini, pork floss on a pillowy smashed av’. If you’ve worked up a duck-sized appetite, turn to the ‘More’ menu, especially the twice-cooked pork belly: a knock-out classic, served with fermented apple slaw and silky jus. Think thoughtful, well-resented cafe fare...with a splash of experimental genius.
“Every venue is its own animal,” Skocic says, “I’ve put a few dishes on here that I think are a bit different, but at the end of the day it’s about what tastes good. A lot of chefs forget that.”
Image credit: Michelle Jarni