Where: Dumbo, 11 Argyle Street West Footscray
What: A café that would become my local if I lived in WeFo
Bloat score: 3 – I could have balanced a glass of wine on my bloated stomach
I was invited to dine as a guest of Dumbo, but all opinions expressed are entirely my own.
Dumbo felt like it was in the ‘burbs – mostly because I pulled out the old Journey Planner and found it’d take a bit over an hour, and in some cases a combination of three modes of transport, to get there. With most people’s knowledge of Footscray limited to the immediate vicinity of markets and authentic Vietnamese food surrounding the train station, a café in the backstreets of a residential neighbourhood felt like an anomaly.
I’m so glad I did manage to rope in friends who didn’t pay for their driving licence in a third-world country (a story for another time) and actually knew how to drive, however, because Dumbo is perhaps my favourite café of 2017 thus far.
Small and quaint with a double-fronted entranceway, Dumbo is light, bright and welcoming. Upon arrival, we were greeted by a bevy of well-behaved babies as opposed to the undercuts and pierced noses that I am accustomed to queuing up with in the Northern suburbs. The lack of competing cafes in the area meant Dumbo was constantly full, but turnover was quick and no one was kept waiting for long, if at all.
My hungover brain couldn’t cope with the ramifications of ordering a coffee, so I went with the ‘match made in heaven’ almond tea latte, which was a blend of matcha, peppermint and vanilla bean – personally, I would have named it ‘matcha made in heaven’. Non-lactose processing people are well catered for, with three alternative milks available – soy, almond and coconut.
Without me noticing, chai lattes have ceased to be a thing, and instead we are being presented with these new breeds of tea lattes. My lime green tea latte was warm and comforting, with the dehydrated bits of raspberries providing the latte with a pleasing burst of sourness and colour.
Trying to adhere to my intolerances was a challenge at Dumbo, because everything I wanted I knew I couldn’t have. If I were a regular person, I would have gone for the spinach and ricotta Turkish borek with basil and lime avocado smash, a poached egg, spiced pinenuts and tomato relish puree. Or the pearl couscous salad with salsa verde, cherry tomatoes, chilli, Chinese broccoli, Zaatar chicken and green pepper relish.
But I went for the appealing potato fritters (#potatoes4eva) with chilli lime salsa, sweet peas, smoked salmon and a herb salad. I asked for it without the accompanying garlic sumac yoghurt, although that would have no doubt been delicious.
Thankfully my friends who can drive can also tolerate large amounts of fructose – one ordered the Turkish borek that I was lusting over and the other ordered avocado with cherry tomatoes, goat’s cheese, homemade almond dukkah and pumpkin sourdough.
Each of our dishes had that little extra something that distinguished it from your average run-of-the-mill brunch fare. The borek, a novel café offering in itself, contained punchy flavours enveloped in melt-in-your-mouth pastry.
The pumpkin sourdough and almond dukkah elevated the humble ingredients of a routine smashed avo.
My potato fritters were flavoursome without being too greasy, and while the garlic yoghurt would have complemented them perfectly, the chilli lime salsa provided the dish with a nice hint of spice (although no amount of spice is ever enough for me, as you’ll find out in next week’s blog post #WatchThisSpace).
I could have escaped with zero bloats if I’d stopped there, but as you may have guessed from the bloat score above, I didn’t. When tempted by the offer of ricotta doughnuts with cocoa caramel sauce and vanilla bean ice cream, I didn’t refrain.
These were as heavenly as a non-sweet tooth could find an injection of sugar at 11am. It was an amazing adjunct to our meal, with each of us getting a ricotta doughnut to ourselves.
I loved everything about Dumbo – the friendly service, the ample parking next door, the express takeaway window at the side of the building. My favourite cafes in Melbourne are the ones where I never feel the compulsion to leave; I could have spent hours in Dumbo. Now to obtain a driving licence.
Dumbo is open from 7.30am to 3.30pm Monday to Friday and from 8am to 3pm Saturday to Sunday.