Dead Man Espresso, South Melbourne

Dead Man Espresso is located in South Melbourne, relatively close to St. Ali and about a ten minute walk from South Melbourne Market. It's about a five minute walk from the York St/Claredon St stop on tram 12 towards Fitzroy/St Kilda. Dead Man Espresso uses local produce where possible, from meat to herbs and even honey from their own rooftop beehive!

The cafe is quite large, with plenty of seating inside, outside in a shaded balcony area, and also at larger tables on the street itself. We sat in the elevated balcony area, which is greater in the warmer weather as you get to enjoy the warmth but not feel too hot, as it is completely covered from the sun (or rain). The cafe setting is very open so you didn't really have to raise your voices despite there being lots of people. The layout and decor of the cafe is modern and laid back, with the use of wooden tables and chairs, as well as wooden panels for the walls.

We went on a Saturday and had to wait about twenty minutes for a table. There was also quite a bit of a wait for the latte when we did order, and initially when it came it was actually the wrong order and not for our table. We also weren't told of the specials board when served, and the drinks menu wasn't complete, so we weren't sure of the prices of what we ordered - the drinks menu on the back of the main menu only listed alcoholic drinks, not coffees or juices.

Breakfast is served all day at Dead Man Espresso, though the lunch menu doesn't begin til 1130am. We decided on the Avo on Toast ($17.50), the Chicken Schnitzel sandwich ($16) and the BLT ($17). For drinks, we got an orange juice, ice coffee and a latte. The OJ was sweet and refreshing with a good orange taste. The ice coffee had a strong coffee taste and was aromatic, but wasn't very sweet like most ice coffees. The latte was brewed well, with the perfect amount of froth to it, and also had a strong, aromatic taste.

The avo on toast consisted of an avocado and herb mash with chilli, goat's cheese and toasted buckwheat. The lemon zest and basil in the mash was blended really well with just the right amount of goat's cheese that it wasn't overpowering. The chilli wasn't very spicy, but was a good addition to the dish for extra flavour. The bread was toasted well, and the dish may look small but it was actually quite filling.

The chicken schnitzel sandwich came with coleslaw, pickles and mayo, and was a good portion dish to have. The pickles and mayo were a good balance to the chicken, and the pickles had a good acidic zingy taste to it. It would've been good to have a bit more mayo in the coleslaw though, as the sandwich got a little dry. The chicken was good with a generous portion/ratio to the rest of the sandwich, and there wasn't an overly thick layer of batter. Because there was so much ingredients in the sandwich, the bread did become a bit soggy under the weight of it all.

The BLT was made up of pork belly and spinach purée on brioche, with gazpacho and pickled kohlrobi. The brioche was crumbly but toasted perfectly and crispy, and there was a great portion of pork in the sandwich. The pork was soft and melted in your mouth, but was crispy on the outside and full of flavour. The spinach purée was a good combination with the pork, and the pickled kohlrobi and carrots helped to refresh your palette. I wasn't quite sure about the gazpacho (tomato based broth), which tasted a bit like a tomato salsa/dressing but extremely acidic. It was very strong and I felt it wasn't really needed in the BLT - it tasted really great without it.

Overall it was a good experience at Dead Man Espresso despite some downsides, though I may not come back again. Even if I was in the area, there are some other cafes which I've been to and had a better experience at, or would like to try instead.

Ambience: 7/10
Service: 6/10
Food: 7/10
Price: 8/10

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