Uncle Drew is everything a good Melbourne café should be. Suburban and small, with a tight menu, loyal locals, and damn good coffee. It’s a simple recipe, but stumbling on the real thing is still a refreshing experience—like finding money in an old pair of jeans. Drop by on a lazy Sunday morning and you’ll see owner Jonathan Scali working the coffee machine, bowls of granola whizzing by at nose-height, and the dogs of Clifton Hill catching up around the water bowl outside.
The name is a nod to Scali’s old mentor, the one who taught him how to work an espresso machine back in the early 00’s. Which is probably why Uncle Drew is all about the coffee. Pour-overs, cold drips, espresso tasting plates and rotating blends from Dukes and Geelong-based Coffee Cartel, you can even buy barista equipment and single estate beans by the bag. Scali knows that if you want to generate local loyalty, you start with a top-notch extraction and go from there.
Food-wise, Uncle Drew is simple, tasty and unpretentious. You won’t find anything deconstructed on this menu. Think chunky golden omelettes with cider-braised pork hock and kipfler potatoes, manchego and butter oozing out the sides. Or the Uncle Drew Toastie: shaved ham, pulled pork, gherkins, Dijon mustard and crème fraiche. Health fiends will probably skip the cheese and go straight for the bircher, served with chia seeds, goji berries and umeshu-poached nashi pear.
But the star of the show (at least for our sugar-starved inner kid) is the Mega Hot Choc: a stacked confectionary behemoth, topped with choc sauce, whipped cream, toasted marshmallows and a fudge brownie. Be still my arteries...
Image credit: Michelle Jarni