Breakfast at Stagger Lee’s

So … obviously being Saturday I’m going to go have breakfast somewhere cool. Today I want somewhere I haven’t tried before: so first a quick rifle through The Age Good Cafe Guide 2014. Whaddia know – best new cafe award goes to … drumroll …a place called Stagger Lee’s in Fitzroy (of course), specifically, Brunswick Street (it would be).

So we pile into the lobster-mobile on the coldest morning probably ever. Blackburn J is having a slight grumpy day – lots of “why can’t we just have breakfast down the road?” to which the clear answer is “because we’re going to freakin Brunswick St so shuddup”. Bring on Brunswick Street!


This image of two cats crowded into the same igloo isn’t particularly relevant to a cafe review – it more goes to demonstrating how cold it is.

Fast forward to Stagger Lee’s. Very now – very Fitzroy. Warehouse-style interior, distressed walls, worried naked hanging lights, mildly concerned concrete floor. The brains behind Proud Mary are also behind Stagger Lee’s and you can tell because there is a massive (MASSIVE) synesso and a couple of grinders of size and strength to mince car parts. These are people who know about coffee – and like Proud Mary, my single-origin Costa Rican whatever is exceptional. I didn’t as such identify the  fruit undertones described by the typical Fitzroy grunge-chic waitress (I have tasted fruitier things, I think. Like fruit for example) but it was nonetheless exceptional.

The chef is some guy called Chris Hamburger. Apparently that is supposed to mean something to me; Melbourne is the kind of place where you know chef names, and nod approvingly. I’m more wondering if he came up with the name himself, or is genuinely the offspring of Mr and Mrs Hamburger. The cooks are wearing bowler hats and grotty aprons (yeah!), like Proud Mary – the barista is wearing mostly facial hair. The customers are wearing black with holes in elbows and so forth.

Mr C Hamburger’s menu can be found online HERE.


So Blackburn J orders the Frank ‘n Beans which is saffron baked beans, smoked ham hock, chorizo (and a very fine one – I stole a bit), poached egg (of course), herb and garlic crumb with toast. He is well pleased and so should be, because it is tasty, zingy and a great winter choice.


I order the Shroom ‘n Truffles (this appears to be a menu that steers away from printing the full word ‘and’) because I really like pine mushrooms – I like all the rich red juice that comes out of them. They are leaning on some truffled polenta and a confit egg yolk with pecorino pepato and farmhouse toast. I am now starting to become blasé about truffle oil appearing on at least one dish of every funky menu – it is probably set to be the new smashed avocado of the cafe scene. There is now so much innovation in breakfast offerings that most can only be distinguished from lunch by the inevitable egg. This is a good dish, with the soft polenta making it feel like super comfort food. Texture comes courtesy of the fabulous farmhouse toast – I make a firm, mental note to ask where it is sourced from and just as firmly, and practically instantly, forget.

This is a nice joint with great, cuddly food, but I have to have another coffee which really is the star.

For those wondering, Stagger Lee is some song about some guy that shot some other guy for something to do with a stolen hat. I’m not wondering myself since I think the idea of choosing Stagger Lee is more to fit with the slightly pretentious obscurity in fashionable Melbourne cafe naming. Silly names aside, Stagger Lee’s is worth a visit – earlier rather than later because something about the place suggests it was designed with the sole purpose of quickly becoming another queue out the door type of affair.

I wonder if that goal will be achieved? No doubt we will find out sooner rather than later. Anyhoo, it’s home for me to sleep off some polenta and the tail end of a low-level hangover. Tomorrow I have booked for dinner at Supernormal, in anticipation of celebrating a great Melbourne Demons victory over Brisbane, so if you’ll excuse me…

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