Melbourne’s coffee scene is so well established it is making an impact on the cafes opening their doors in the outer suburbs, where traditionally the funk, charisma and overall ‘city vibe’ is not important. Eessenza Yarra Valley has been leading the way in a new wave of stylish coffee houses popping up in Healesville over the last couple of years. Opening 4 years ago, it was one of the only destination cafés to be found in the area at the time. With its lane way feel and intimate setting it is very ‘Melbourne CBD’ and would feel right at home in Degraves Street.
As most of you would know I am blogging my way through the Yarra Valley with one if not two children in tow. Arriving at Essenza with a pram and a 4 year old was a little bit daunting once I realised it was, literally, the size of a small alley way and had only one spot for a pram/wheelchair. My facial expression must have spoken volumes as we were greeted by the owners almost immediately who went about finding the perfect table for us. I opted to sit outside under the shade of the umbrellas, in the hope that my four year old would cause less disturbance out there – it was a good decision, because the crazy mood was in full swing, meaning Mum’s tolerance levels were at an all-time low, resulting in through-the-roof stress levels. Outside seemed to calm us all down. Speaking to David and Gianpaolo later put my mind at ease for the next time I visited, they are very personable and great with kids. Especially David, who on many occasions stopped by our table to check on my son and answer any of his many questions.
Looking over the menu I was pleasantly surprised to see a very strong Italian influence. The gentlemen are using local produce where possible, mixed with imported Italian flavours to ensure the food on offer sings in Italian. We were also tempted by the artisan baked goods available. There is nothing like a freshly baked Danish to round out your coffee for the day – if there are any left, as they only bake a short run every morning and once sold out they are out.
*Hot Tip (from the locals): the chocolate croissants are meant to be AMAZING!
Our order arrived in good time and my son was delighted to see his freshly baked croissant oozing with melted cheese and packed with ham off the bone (his favourite). It looked so good that a taste test by Mum was necessary before ‘munchkin’ took a bite – just to see if it was ok (wink wink). The croissants are so good! Just one bite took me back to my Au Pairing days in Germany. The father of the family would go out every Saturday morning before the house awoke and purchase fresh croissants and bread. I can still smell the aroma and hear the crunch as I enjoyed them lathered in butter and apricot jam – ahhh the memories.
My sister and I enjoyed the Tuna salad (no longer on the menu – but should be, it was perfect for a healthy option and right down my salad aisle. They do have a variation on their new menu, which I have not tried) and the Colazione Breakfast Board. The food was so enjoyable that I went back a second time, thinking I would purchase the famous chocolate croissant and found myself ordering the slow cooked pulled pork, green apple and rocket salad roll – delicious!!
As you all know by now coffee is quite important to me and needs to be factored into every day I breathe (at the moment). I can drink it Latte, cold dripped, iced or as experienced at Essenza, Affogart style (click here for full coffee review) . If you are impressed by the fact that a car company produces coffee beans, stop by and pick yourself up a bag. The folk at Essenza are more than just a café/bakery – they are also a providore store, so next time you need a quick pastry fix or want some Italian influence in your life pop in on David and Gianpaolo at Essenza and tell them Yarra Valley Life sent you.