Collective Expresso is a popular spot boasting a touch of the alternative culture in Camberwell. Everything from the menu, the staff to the space itself seems a little bit pretentious, but still highly sophisticated.
The space is small, offering out door dining options as well a one main long dining table in the centre of the room. Climb up the high chairs to this large communal table and you will be offered a paper menu from the waitstaff. There where flowers on the table to liven up the atmosphere and water was given to us in an old Absolute Vodka bottle. It was such a pity that we could not hear each other talk due to the poor acoustics and amount of people crammed into such a small space.
I have to say that the coffee was incredible, beautifully balanced, my only criticism… I wish it was larger! Our coffee order was taken strait away as we sat down, and came to our table promptly. From the pillars of take away cups I would say they get quite a lot of practice at serving up delicious caffeinated drinks.
Their menu isnt up online, I had been searching for it for days, but when I grabbed a copy, it certainly kept me occupied! Specials are written up on a chalk board near the counter (keep a look out for these very interesting options!). There was everything from Tim Tam milkshakes to the Prawn Baguette special! The dishes are quite gourmet and a mouthful to order. You wont get a simple hearty bowl of porridge here. Every dish that was brought out into the space looked divine, but for those who like the simple things in life you probably don’t want Spiced Vegan Ratatouille and Herb baked Cannellini beans with toasted seeds and gluten free bread ($13) at 9 am.
We chose one of the simplest dishes, the Avocado and feta mash drizzled with Cobram Estate extra virgin olive oil with scrambled eggs ($15). (Although the inclusion of the ‘Cobram Estate’ name dropping in this dish made me cringe a little). That said the fair was tasty and fresh. The serving sizes where definitely enough to keep you going till well into the afternoon. Though I will admit when the girl next to us had the French Toast with Kaiser fleish, dried blueberries, candied almonds and burbon caramel sauce ($15.5) I did have a moment of food envy.
On the whole, the food and coffee are of an excellent standard. I was quite put off by the pretentious nature of the menu that seemed to over describe every dish to the point of ridicule. The space was not great in terms of accessibility (ridiculously high chairs!) and it was difficult to maintain a conversation while shouting over other cafe go-ers. This is not the kind of place I like to go for a lazy week day brunch. However if you are looking for a little more sophistication to your morning, Collective Expresso will not let you down.