Clementine, the first establishment of the two-level dining project led by hospitality veteran Glen Bagnara (Hemingway’s Wine Room, Bar Bianco) and developer Fortis, that opened in April this year continues to raise the bar with its visually extravagant, modern Australian all-day breakfast and brunch.
South Melbourneians have something new to shout about with this contemporary light-flooded daytime eatery painted in warm cream and salmon tones, natural timbers, sea glass tiles, curved walls and windows and copper fixtures – think 1950s oceanliner influenced architecture, open plan with share tables, pendant clusters and friendly vibes. Culinary influences (Europe, Asia, the Americas) are new-world takes on old favourites and are well thought out, impeccably presented and, at times, seriously decadent.
Under the guidance of Chef David Yuan, Clementine presents a relaxed and convivial eating space serving all-day breakfast and brunch from around 7am-3pm on most days. The Reuben sandwich made with kangaroo pastrami is a flavoursome and clever/simple ingredient tweak that just works. And the duck with waffles, candied walnuts and truffled Waldorf salad looks fresh and inviting but is also a well-balanced flavour-packed offering that supports a protein-rich and nutrient-dense start to your day, all in a beautifully plated package.
We started our visit with Crisps and Coffee – sea salt potato crisps with a side of Duke’s coffee foam. For a sweeter bite and an elegant texture, try the Breakfast Soufflé – a meringue-formed Japanese pancake accompanied by house-made vanilla ice cream, fresh strawberries, Nutella rice crisps, and a sprinkle of raspberry dust that’s both eye-catching and palate-teasing with its many textures. The Cured Salmon Mille-feuille, a delicate creation of layered puff pastry adorned with creamy cheese foam, briny capers, Spanish onion, and candied lemon, takes these classic savoury flavours to a new level; and the Lobster Florentine – showcasing poached lobster, free-range poached eggs, pillowy brioche and a rich mushroom ragu is possibly Melbourne’s most outstanding new breakfast offering. Topped with a velvety ‘amped-up’ Thermidor hollandaise, this is a unique alternative to the ‘breakfast of champions’.
Even the traditional Scotch Egg gets a mighty lift with Clementine having delivered an appealing pork chilli con carne interior wrap (upon opening in April), and now offering a Wagyu beef Bourguignon version for the cooler months. Both are coated in a crispy panko crumb and expertly cooked, golden on the outside and with just slightly runny yokes on the inside. For meat lovers, the charred, 24-hour slow-cooked Beef Short Rib is a no-brainer, read unbeatable. Sides of kimchi, fried egg-topped fried rice, scallion, and tangy fermented turnip complete the magic.
Clementine offers organic Arabica coffee beans from Dukes Coffee Roasters (Flinders Lane, Melbourne) and a selection of juices, smoothies, and virgin cocktails. For those on the go, the venue provides decent bakehouse pastries (we can’t go past good almond croissants), cakes and slices from Söt by Mörk, and a rotating assortment of toasties, soups and salads, all made in-house, of course.
In the coming months, Clementine will introduce a curated selection of wines, champagne, and cocktails, making it an ideal spot for boozy brunches, long lunches, and teatime indulgence. The collaboration between Bagnara and Fortis brings a refreshing culinary offering to this underserved nook in South Melbourne. The second venue, Castlerose – a lavish underground supper club below will open later the year.