A Melbourne based writer who is a travel junkie, dedicated foodie and emerging photographer.
Published July 13th 2014
The Hidden Café is a hidden gem in Camberwell. If I hadn't been told about it, I don't think I'd ever have found it. You need to go a little out of the way to get there (at least in Camberwell terms), but it's well worth the effort.
The first thing I noticed upon walking into The Hidden Café is the beautiful light and space. That's because the café is situated in a former church hall, complete with lofty cathedral ceilings and stained glass windows. Even on a dull day (as it was when we visited) the place seemed light and bright.
A large space which is well lit
The second thing I observed was the child friendly space as we walked in. What would have been the entry hall to the church has a penned off area with children's toys. There is also a café table set up there so parents can choose to drink their coffee/tea while sitting next to their (hopefully happily entertained) offspring.
I also liked the greeting we received on walking in. It was warm and welcoming. It's a large space and there are plenty of tables. We decided to sit at the large communal table.
Menus and water were quickly provided; in fact, the service throughout was a highlight.
Having read a few reviews of The Hidden Café online before our visit, my partner Dave was keen to try the truffled eggs, which had received a lot of praise from previous customers. Alas, the dish wasn't on the menu at the time we visited. So Dave opted instead for The Hidden Café Breakfast, which consists of guacamole, goats cheese, fresh basil, chickpeas and harissa, tossed in olive oil and served on fruit and nut bread ($16.50). Fruit and nut bread? Well, yes! And apparently it worked beautifully. Dave loved it and savoured every mouthful.
The Hidden Café Breakfast
I opted for the muesli; a delicious toasted muesli served with yoghurt and a berry coulis ($14). The presentation of the dish was a bit rustic, compared with the artistic work of, say, Lights in the Attic, but overall, I enjoyed it.
Muesli - tasty but the presentation is a bit rustic
Breakfast was rounded out with an excellent coffee (standard sized coffee is $3.60). The café uses a specialty coffee roasted in Melbourne by Gridlock Coffee.
There is a display cabinet with the most delicious looking cakes. They will have to wait until my next visit.
The cakes on display looked delicious
During our visit, there was a group of perhaps eight mothers with their young children at the other end of the hall from where we were sitting. Things did start to get a little raucous as the children became restless. A couple of them ran along the length of the hall towards where we were sitting, and there was the general level of crying and screaming that often accompanies young children. I've got to say that it didn't greatly worry me, but the noise bothered Dave a lot, and we ended up cutting our stay a little short. The acoustics are a bit tricky in a building where there are wooden floors, high ceilings and (seemingly) little noise mitigation. But that is the only negative thing I can say about our visit. Otherwise I enjoyed it a lot.
The Hidden Café is located at 101 Bowen Street, Camberwell (close to the intersection of Toorak Road). It's open every day from 7.30am to 4.30pm.