I love living in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne because I’m on the doorstep leading to some of Melbourne’s desirable destinations for day-tripping and short stays. Being on the doorstep of the leafy village of Belgrave, set in The Dandenongs, means a lazy weekend brunch in a country-style setting is achievable without having to spend a couple of hours in the car.
Earthly Pleasures Café is a cosy café and sets the scene for a perfect brunch. What makes Earthly Pleasures special is its historic relevance to the area. Previously, Belgrave Manor was one of The Dandenongs’ first doctor’s surgeries and later a school. It was built in 1931 and heritage listed under the name of Taunus House. The building later became a creative hub, offering gallery space for Melbourne artists. Now, hungry guests come to brunch on an array of treats while being warmed by a crackling fire. Earthly Pleasures still retains its creative vein, and hosts artwork from local artists keen for a sale.
The aesthetics seem like they haven’t changed too much since those early days. The vastness of the dining floor is big enough to contain antique tables and chairs, while a loft overhead offers extra seating. Earthly Pleasures gets mighty busy, yet the tall ceiling carries the noise high into its peak so you can still enjoy conversation without feeling like those around you are causing a raucous. Rolling gardens and a water fountain out the front gives guests a quaint option for outdoor dining in those warmer months. From previous visits we’ve discovered that no matter how busy it does get, the service has always been prompt and friendly.
We take a table near the cosy fire, and we’re warmed instantly from the chills outside. The cool weather has made us hungry so we’re looking for a feast. The scrambled tofu will suit me nicely. After a creamy soy latte, the scrambled tofu arrives; mountainous in size, sitting on layers of toasted organic sourdough bread and decorated with branches of fresh coriander. The tofu offers a hint of sweetness from the caramelised onions and wilted spinach threaded throughout. There is an extra of grilled tomato cheeks to its side.
Another tempting dish that we’ve ordered is the banana and cranberry bread. It’s smeared with rice bran spread and complemented by a ramekin of maple syrup. The bread has a crispy crust while still being delicately fluffy and warm on the inside. A scattering of sunflower and sesame seeds throughout the bread gives it a subtle crunch. By the end of our dishes, we’re relishing in the fact that we’ve enjoyed a country-sized meal in a café that’s only within 30-minutes’ reach from home.
Feast away at Earthly Pleasures Cafe. 1627 Burwood Highway Belgrave Victoria 3160. Phone: 03 9752 6744. Open Tuesday to Sunday 8.30am to 5.00pm, closed Mondays and all public holidays. Bookings are advised.