On the corner of George and Gertrude streets (part of the Gertrude Street boutique/shopping strip) is a smallish café which is part of the Seven Seeds stable [run by Melbourne coffee don Mark Dundon] curiously named De Clieu. Not so curious perhaps when you look into the taxonomy of Mark’s other café names [Seven Seeds, Brother Baba Budan] and see that they derive from the colourful history of coffee and its discovery.
The original De Clieu was a french naval officer who is celebrated for his claim to have introduced coffee to the French colonies of the Western Hemisphere in the 1720s. According to l’Année littéraire of 1774, he arranged to transport a coffee plant (or perhaps several) from the greenhouses of the Jardin Royal des Plantes [which had originally been given to the French King from Holland] to Martinique in 1720.
The story goes that water was rationed on the voyage and De Clieu was so dedicated to his mission that he shared his ration with the seedlings. The story may be apocryphal, but most sources do in fact credit De Clieu with the introduction of coffee to Martinique & thence the Caribbean.
But enough of history – De Clieu is a funky spot where everyone seems to hang out in black jeans [& black jackets, shoes or whatever] but this belies its class – it’s trendy, but it also serves good coffee and very good food.
The menu reveals an elegant simplicity as would be expected from the kitchen of Steven Carr (previously of the Healesville Hotel) and offers a slightly exotic take on otherwise prosaic items – our Pork Neck Roti [sweet roasted pork neck on a spring onion roti, with a fried egg and hoisin-flavoured BBQ sauce] was exquisite.
And the coffee – we had one shot which was excellent and one which was [only] good, which given the general state of espresso coffee, is still very good overall! Definitely recommended.
187 Gertrude Street
(03) 9416 4661
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