I'm a Melbourne-based writer and traveller with a passion for good food.
Published September 23rd 2012
Mediterranean-style plates you won't want to share
Not to be confused with the speakeasy of the same name in Melbourne's CBD (they are not in any way related), Eau De Vie is a cosy little café-bar located just a short walk from Prahran train station on Chapel Street.
During the day, Eau De Vie has a mellow and relaxed vibe, offering breakfast items and other light meals that are suffused with Spanish, Italian, Greek and French influences. But when the sun goes down at the end of the week, this charming café effortlessly transforms into a bustling wine and tapas-style bar, with a small but juicy selection of cocktails ("foxtails") on offer.
The interior is small but open and airy; the brick walls and polished wooden panelling give Eau De Vie a homely feel. Its intimate setting is great for small groups, or solo diners looking to kick back with a coffee and their choice of the day's newspapers. Eau De Vie also offers customers free wifi for those looking to surf the web.
Its quirky décor is what I found most appealing (and was what initially drew me inside). Old wooden wine boxes serve as shelves. French Art Noveau posters are haphazardly dotted throughout the room. Grapevines are interwoven through the light fixtures. Candles stick out of old champagne bottles, dripping with massive globs of hardened candlewax. Bunches of dried chillies hang behind the counter. It kept me fascinated for hours.
While I found the coffee to be fairly ordinary (although I was rather charmed by the use of a battered brass jug for the sugar bowl), what really stole the show was the mouth-watering (and reasonably priced) tapas menu. The lemon salted kingfish with macerated shallots in lime leaf oil (one of the owner's recommendations) and sizzling prawns with garlic, chilli and dry Muscat are a must.
Lemon salted kingfisher, macerated shallots and lime leaf oil with fried pita bread
For those looking for something a little more substantial, Eau De Vie also has larger dishes like spinach gnocchi and porterhouse steak. However, do not be fooled by the small and delicate-looking tapas plates – the food is rich and will fill you up before you realise what happened.
Whether it be to catch up with a friend for breakfast, or share some gourmet tapas over a glass of Italian red, Eau De Vie is a Chapel Street must. Although rather rough around the edges, it's all part of its charm – a charm that will draw you in and keep you coming back for more.