In the quiet backstreets of Clifton Hill, you’ll find owner Jonathon Scali on the coffee machine at Uncle Drew Cafe. The name is a nod to the fella who taught him how to make his first coffee in the early ‘00s.

Today Scali serves up Dukes coffee to local residents, office workers, and those taking a pitstop along the Merri Creek Trail. Meanwhile, his co-owner Karel Simek works his magic in the kitchen. Istra Smallgoods bacon, Tivoli Road Bakery bread and Rooftop Honey all feature on his tight, sophisticated menu.

For eating, a smart choice might be the breakfast burrito, which brims with chilli and pesto frittata, potato hash, minced pork, beans and more. Uncle Drew’s toastie is a crowd favourite at any time of day – shaved ham, spicy pulled pork, manchego, pickles, Dijon mustard and crème fraiche. Filled bagels, baguettes, homemade pies, cakes and slices are available for a quick takeaway option. Lunch-time dishes have included anything from a soba noodle salad with salmon, edamame and ponzu dressing, to a house made potato gnocchi with tomato, basil and mozzarella. Soft drinks are by Karma Kola and chai is made in-house.

There’s also a deli with fridge snacks, dry goods and seasonal produce for you to take home. You might find local honey, small-batch coffee beans, or European condiments from ajvar (roasted red pepper dip) to Genoan pesto.

The space itself is bright and clean, with a hint of lived-in charm. The counter is made of timber recycled from the floor of a Victorian woolshed, and the same appears in the handmade tables in the dining area.

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Updated: December 2nd, 2022

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