MC Phrase, known to his mates as Harley Webster, started coming to Eau de Vie six months ago with his wife, R&B singer Jade MacRae, when he built a studio a few doors down on Chapel Street.
Over the strains of fado and a deck of uno, Dimitri and his team provide old-friend service that keeps customers loyal. The kitchen serves up highly imaginative, conversation-starter dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with prices ranging from $9-$25.
Despite being generously blessed with the pessimism gene, Harley was won around.
“I was dubious at first,” he says, tucking into fried kefalograviera (that’s, like, salty Greek sheep cheese) with radish, baby beets and lemon pickled carrot. “I always am. Jade was like, ‘I’m telling you, the coffee’s really good.’”
“It all started with the caffeine,” confirms Jade, who comes in for a hit and a blast of free wireless every day.
“We kept trying to come here and eat,” tuts Harley, “and it was always full. I was like, ‘Fuck this joint, man.’”
Owner Dimitri brings over another dish and we’re silenced by the sheer tastiness of lemon salted kingfish, macerated shallots and lime leaf oil. It’s the awesome handiwork of young chef ‘Danger’ – who looks far too wrapped up in the assembly of our next little morsel, spinach gnocchi with honey rosemary and truffle pecorino, to be of any harm to anyone.
For a while there’s only the sound of munching over the gentle clack of a nearby backgammon game, then the spell is broken with the arrival of the piece de resistance: Crumbed ham hock and pea croquette with corn puree. Applause, applause.
While Prahran’s stuffed with food joints, Harley and Jade are finding their tastes to be more grown up these days. Other local haunts for the pair are the Flying Duck Hotel on Bendigo Street – an unpretentious local with good grub, away from the narcissistic bars of Chapel Street – and Yarra Indian Food on William Street. The latter’s a “hole in the wall” according to Jade, but both vouch for it having the tastiest Indian tucker they’ve had in Australia, “and they haven’t caught up with inflation,” Harley says of the six-ish dollar lunch deal.