St Ali is one of those cool back alley places that you need to know about or you’ll never find it. I was fortunate to have Melbournians inform me of this converted warehouse is South Melbourne, but needed a refresher to know where to find it when I decided to visit. The outside is plain white, no signage with plenty of bikes out the front. You’ll find it down Yarra Place, turn right down Coventry St off Clarendon and a left on Yarra Place and stop when you smell the coffee. Don’t worry I walked passed it first time too,
St Ali is all about the coffee. They live and breathe it and their coffee machine takes pride of place in the cafe. The rustic interior has been left as is, a charming example of the hipster sheek cafes try so hard to cultivate.
The cafe was busy, especially for a weekday morning and we were lucky to get a seat on a communal table. The warehouse is large but there’s plenty of tables and there’s only so much room to fit everyone in. We started with coffees, having had our drinks order taken straight away.
As we usually do we went for lattes. The white blend at the time was a mix of Colombian and Brazillian beans and served with bio-dynamic milk from a single herd of Jersey and Fresian cows. That’s all well and good you say, but how was the coffee? We found the brew to be creamy and smooth, a fruity centre and finishing with a rich sweetness. This was indeed a very good coffee, but, and unfortunately there is a but, if you’re looking for specialty coffee St Ali is rather expensive. A dine in will cost you at least $4 and takeaways are equally inflated, we enjoyed our coffee but are not sure we would pay it too regularly.
We also decided to try the citrus juice. It was a refreshing and light drink with nice flavours and that freshly juiced froth.
Our first meal was the ‘Daddy’ a brioche breakfast bun, with chili pork and fennel sausage as well as bacon, scrambled egg and their daddy sauce. We loved the thick chunks of bacon, the light crisp brioche and the two layers of sausages. There was a warm chilli hit that went well with the creamy scrambled eggs. A satisfying breakfast bun!
Next up was Dr Marty’s stacks, in essence mini crumpets served with grape and ricotta. We chose this dish for its uniqueness and for that we cannot be disappointed, the pickled walnut, grapes, celery leaf, peppered ricotta, raw honey and crumpet was certainly an unusual feature on a breakfast menu. The problem was that the flavours weren’t appropriately balanced. The pepper was quite overwhelming for this otherwise subtle dish and it just couldn’t come together, more sweetness and less heat would have given this breakfast just what it needed.
St Ali is an interesting and unusual eatery that’s well worth a visit. The coffee and food are of the highest quality but it’s unfortunate their prices are so high when you think of all the wonderful food and specialty coffee that can be had around Melbourne for much less.