Owner and front of house, Alison Dwyer, and her sister/chef, Jo Richards have been in and around the restaurant industry since their childhood at the Richmond Arms. After a twelve-month renovation and fabulous refurbishment of the once-again-beautiful old garden cottage next to Metz – which included installing a street-level lift for the disabled – they opened The Duchess Café on March 1 as their first solo venture. And they have been busy ever since with an already established and constantly morphing clientele of trendy couples, mums, business men and women, retirees and solos enjoying a coffee and buttermilk scones with their paper.
This comes as no surprise for they have distilled their long experience into creating a venue where every detail appears perfectly tailored to their market – from the bright, modern decor, huge wall mirrors and quite wonderful entrance chandelier to the garden table settings, the small but carefully chosen and well-priced wine list, the cakes, coffee and service to a contemporary menu, where every dish sings refinement, freshness and flavour.
Expect breakfast items like crunchy house-made granola with syrup-poached winter fruits; thick apple, date and walnut toast with delicious whipped honey butter; or a softly poached egg with avocado, roasted tomato and goat’s cheese, the dish lifted and lightened by the fresh, fruity flavours of mild red chilli, lemon, mint and pea tendrils.
It was all so good, I returned for lunch when I was again impressed by Richard’s inspired use of flavoured oils, dressings and glazes, fresh herbs, spices and nuts in such things as minted labne, whipped feta and dukkah and qunioa tabouli to lift her dishes above the ordinary to wonderful deliciousness.
All-day breakfast $6.50 to $19.50; lunch $11.50 to $16.50; kids’ menu $4.00 to $8.50.