Demitri’s Feast

September 3, 2011

141 Swan Street, Richmond

I think I’ve found a new favourite breakfast place: Demitri’s Feast. I think I’ve also found a new favourite suburb: Richmond. Swan Street, which I always thought was a bit of a foodie wasteland, has recently blossomed into a cherry orchard of gastronomic wonders: Friends of Mine, Demitri’s Feast and the newly opened Union Dining dot Swan Street, Pillar of Salt is around the corner on Church, and New York Tomato covers the north side of Bridge Road. Drinks by Mountain Goat. I’m excited to see so many great cafes on the east side of the city, given that they all seem to be in Fitzroy and Brunswick.

Demitri’s Feast, if you couldn’t tell from the name, does Greek-style cafe food, and they do it well. The Greek ingredients and flavours are present in all dishes, but they’re combined in an innovative, modern fashion that fits in very well with Melbourne’s thriving cafe scene. Here’s what I like about Demitri’s,
  1. The food is consistently excellent
  2. The coffee is consistently excellent
  3. The place is small, but there’s never a mile long queue stretching out the door
  4. The staff are very friendly
  5. Did I mention the Baklava French Toast?

As soon as you walk in your eyes are treated to a feast of dips, salads and savory pastries sitting deliciously in a glass cabinet. Next to the cabinet is a cane chair laden with Greek cook books (half of which my mum owns) and the walls are decorated with Greek paraphenalia like posters of famous Greek singers and actors, football team photos, decorative plates with the acropolis painted on them, and one particularly funny poster of an elderly greek couple drinking greek coffee (like turkish coffee), looking morose and grumpy with the caption “Best coffee this side of Larisa” (it actually named another Greek city but I’ve forgotten).

The tables are dark wood, the chairs cane, and the salt is black, from Cyprus.

The first time I went was with A for our customary weekend brunch. After mistakenly parking about 2km away on Swan Street (severe blonde moment), we finally arrived, and boy was the walk worth it! The staff were very hospitable; we were met by Demitri himself, who was very apologetic about us having to wait 10 minutes to get a table (such a change, coming from Hawthorn where cafe queues are like nightclubs and some of the waitresses like broody bouncers).

We initially sat at the window bar, but as soon as a better table opened up he offered to move us. This may not seem like such a big deal, but once I was seated outside at Liar Liar, it started to spit with rain, and the waitress refused to let us move into an available table inside because they were for “new customers”, which I thought very rude.

Once we’d settled ourselves, we ordered drinks: A a hot chocolate and myself a latte. The hot chocolate came out BLACK, it was so rich. A loved it. I got a taste; it had a proper, slightly bitter chocolate taste, not overly sweetened. When A mixed it and poured some off his spoon, it was almost molten (read: thick) in consistency.

I’d heard from a friend that while the food was excellent, the coffee was terrible, but my latte was delicious, the perfect temperature and not a hint of bitterness. Simply delightful.

It was quite a chilly day, so A ordered the Gigantes: giant baked beans, poached egg, lokaniko sausage and feta to warm himself up.

He said they were “absolutely amazing”, but unbelievably hot and he managed to burn the roof of his mouth on a bean (CAUTION when eating these). He thought the poached egg and feta were nice additions, but the standout was the sausage, well seasoned and lightly grilled.

I had the Baklava French Toast with walnut praline, sweet yoghurt and orange blossom syrup. Holy hell this was amazing. I’m not usually a fan of sweet things for breakfast, but this (along with the Syrian French Toast at Gingerlee) is fantastic, and a dish I would gladly order again. The bread had the perfect degree of egginess, and I thought the slightly tangy yoghurt was the perfect foil to the sweetness of the rest of the dish. The walnut praline was delish, the perfect crunch.

Oh sweet sweet walnut praline, how you undo me.

We had been sitting directly opposite the sweets cabinet, and spent the better half of our meal eyeing off the Melomakarons and Baklava (which we bought two pieces of – delicious). As we were leaving, Demitri was writing up the lunch menu for the day.

Every day they offer a feast of dishes, and you choose from a selection of salads and meats. That day they had lentil, beetroot, green bean, goats cheese and walnut salad, another salad with shaved fennel, red witlof, orange, olives and mixed lettuce. And I was dying to hang around for the overnight roasted goat with patates….mmmm.

Demitri’s was so good that A and I returned the very next weekend, Mum and Dad in tow. The sun was shining, so we sat in the courtyard out the back.

The seats are made out of giant tins of feta and olive oil, how appropriate!

Stellar coffee, yet again.

Dad had the sardines with saffron sweet and sour peppers on sourdough with parsley and EVOO. This dish was really tasty, and the sardines were fresh, not tinned. He really enjoyed his dish, but said “we’re coming back next week” so he could order the smashed avocado with bacon, confit cherry tomatoes and a poached egg.

Mum had the Gigantes, but with the poached egg substituted for spinach.

A had the other sweet dish on Demitri’s menu, the semolina pancakes with sweet yoghurt, rose jam, pistachios and orange blossom syrup. Rather similar to the Baklava French Toast, I suppose, but hey, they both taste great. A loved them.

I love love loved my dish, the Village Toast with avocado, crushed broad beans, preserved lemon, goats cheese and a poached egg. Ugh, SO GOOD. This was a fantastically fresh dish, what with the spring-green beans and lemon. Please keep this dish on the menu!

If I were reincarnated as a vegetable, I think I’d like to be reincarnated as a broad bean, because,

  1. You get to sit in the pod and chat with the other broad beans.
  2. The pod is lined with this furry white fluff so it’s like a sleeping bag.
  3. You’re pretty and green, and go well with avocado on toast.
  4. You’re really super tasty!!!

Avocado. Tick. Poached Egg. Tick. Multigrain sourdough. Tick. Feta cheese. Tick. Demitri, how well you play to my weaknesses…

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Filed under: Brunch, Coffee, Greek, Richmond