With so many excellent restaurants to choose from in our city, Melbourne never really had a place in its heart for the Hard Rock Cafe.
So the American chain’s prime location on the corner of Bourke Street and Spring Street has now been transformed into the chic space known as Wallis & Ed, named after, of course Wallis Simpson and Edward VIII.
Despite the nod to Windsor royalty, the cafe and bar is not part of its neighbour, the Hotel Windsor. For one, there is a separate entrance. The decor also doesn’t share the olde worlde stuffed cushion-ness of the Windsor and is more neutral with light wood tables, dark bentwood chairs and matching banquette seating. A long glass panel faces the banquette which gives an interesting effect – you can see your own face in the mirror, floating above the bobbing heads of commuters rushing along Bourke Street.
The breakfast menu is short and sharp – muesli, porridge, toast, eggs. Everything is well-priced, with my house-toasted muesli and almond crunch costing $8.
I don’t care what the dieticians say – toasted muesli tastes better than regular muesli! Wallis & Ed’s version is a very fine crumbed sweet muesli and it tasted like the top part of an apple crumble (which is the best bit, really). If you want to have an even bigger sugar hit in the morning you can have your muesli served with orange juice rather than milk.
What the cafe does share with The Windsor is a pastry chef and I urge you to try the pistachio financier ($1.50). It’s a moist little sweet morsel which will go perfectly with your Five Senses coffee. On the other hand, the cherry clafoutis ($1.50) is a shocking alcoholic kick for that early in the morning.
Wallis & Ed also serves lunch and dinner with a French feel (chef is Frenchman Jerome Tremoulét) and the bar of course can provide you with a classy, sedate destination for after-work drinks.