Tracking down Denis the Menace is a bit of a game of hide-and-seek. Once you’ve found the hulking warehouse cafe (if it feels like you’re going in the wrong direction, keep going, you’re almost there), you’ll meet an open space filled with blossoming cumquat trees, a large central coffee counter and a planter box brimming with herbs.

The cavernous space could have felt sterile, but with the assistance of DuckBuild Architecture, Adam Wilkinson (who previously owned St Edmonds) has created a cafe that combines comfort and sustainability.

“We’ve gone to a lot of effort to get the sustainability aspect of the cafe correct,” says Wilkinson. “We haven’t sacrificed the quality of the food, the design or the service for the sake of the environment, because I don’t believe you have to do that – we’ve just integrated them.”

Re-purposed materials give Denis plenty of personality. Walls are clad with recycled timber Wilkinson gathered from hard rubbish, old doors are tables, a worm farm sits out back and recycled stubbies are the glasses for the free-flowing sparkling water.

Espresso coffee is from Seven Seeds, with weekly rotating single origins and filter coffee on the way. There’s a cabinet filled with ready-to-go meals and sweets for those in a hurry.

Wilkinson’s inner child has named the dishes: the “Oh Shit–aki, accidents happen … carry on and keep eating” is a bowl of soba noodles tossed with tofu, seaweed, eggplant and shitake.

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“I feel like a lot of cafes are taking themselves too seriously, they’re becoming a bit clinical and that’s not what cafe culture should be about,” he says.

Denis the Menace
106-108 Chestnut Street, Cremorne
(03) 9428 8010

Mon to Fri 7am–4pm
Sat & Sun 8am–3pm