Gabriel de Clieu was a French naval officer who famously used his precious water rations to care for his coffee plants rather than himself. Whether you consider that heroic or idiotic probably depends a good deal on how you feel about coffee.
The people behind his recently opened namesake café clearly fall into the former camp – they’re the same team who brought you Carlton’s Seven Seeds and teeny-tiny Brother Baba Budan. Mark Dundon and Bridget Amor love, love, love coffee; they source the finest beans and use only the best equipment to process them. Their joint reputation ensured that De Clieu has been busy from the day it opened, and we’re pleased to confirm that that early confidence wasn’t misplaced.
The coffee, as you’d expect, is excellent; the short, super-sharp menu, engineered to raise a smile. Whose inner child could fail to be tickled by the Let’s Get Going breakfast of Coco Pops, red cordial and coffee? Other delights include grilled sandwiches filled with the likes of pork neck or asparagus, and a fermented rice pancake served with coconut-based pea and potato curry.
All of De Clieu’s suppliers are listed on the back page of the menu; encouraging patrons to recreate the experience at home seems to be something of a philosophy here. Part of the café is given over to a shop selling Seven Seeds coffee beans and quality brewing paraphernalia.
The space itself is sleek and beautiful – all smooth dark wood and chrome, with wide window benches for sitting on and light galore. If there’s one drawback it’s that it could use more seating – the kitchen, large counter and shop take up over half the interior, only leaving room for about 40. However, the staff are efficient and run a waiting list during busy periods, so you won’t be left jonesing for too long.