De Clieu, Fitzroy – A good attempt at French chic that draws a crowd

I have always been curious at the crowd that gathers outside De Clieu at Sunday brunch time, regardless of whether it was through the corner of my eye whilst on the tram, or with the turn of my head as I drive by. The first drawcard for me was obviously the French-sounding name, but I had always found it oddly located so close to the housing commission flats. Nothing wrong with that really, but just a thought.

Let me start off by saying that I absolutely love the simplicity of the menu. That, to me, is a sign of an establishment that is not trying too hard to impress. You only need a few options that are of high quality to retain customer loyalty. The advantage is that you can hire fewer  kitchen staff who aren’t bogged down preparing multiple dishes. This reduces ingredients cost and overall preperation time too. However, the multiple sweet offerings on offer with your Seven Seeds coffee are maintained and this gets my fullest appreciation.

I find that arriving between the times of 10-10.30am on a Sunday are the best bet for a spot without more than a 5min wait. The layout of De Clieu is simple with indoors or outdoors seating available. If you are undecided prior to your morning dose of caffine, then you can park your bum on the low window sill as an alternative.

I highly recommend the Boudin Noir which comprises of two slices of lightly toasted, crusty white bread generously layered with boudin noir. Yes, I was initially expecting a full-on boudin noir sausage, but that simply wouldn’t have worked. The boudin noir has received the full spice treatment, sweet and savoury at the same time with a flurry of black pepper. There is no way that 2 cups of coffee can wash away the aftertaste, so I would pick a fruity tea if you want a clean palate after this meal. The dish is garnished slightly with diced tomato and baby leaves, and it is this aspect which I feel could be enhanced further in terms of quantity because these serve to lighten up the strong flavours.

The Breakfast De Clieu sounds like the signature offering, and I have seen several variations of what it comprises. On this occassion, there was sufficiently plenty of Virginian ham to have with slices of Emmental cheese which fit almost perfectly on top of the slithers of bread provided. Accompaniments included cherry preserve and mustard, and there are several others on offer if so desired, just ask.

So if the food is so terrific, then what’s going wrong with this place that leaves me with a waft of sterile fakeness? I don’t know, perhaps it is the clean and shiny coffee area parading Seven Seeds blends that greets you as you enter? Or the visible kitchen area that fails to exude an excitable buzz? Maybe it is the parade of very well made-up staff who, apart from being so blatently proud to be working there, appear coldly civil. This doesn’t fit into the overall atmosphere of De Clieu’s locality. Is the message ‘we’re better than the rest of you lot’? Someone needs some chill pills, seriously…
De Clieu on Urbanspoon


About simplepalatesseriously

I am a neuroscience researcher in Melbourne, Australia with a keen interest in wines of the world.
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