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Ciel Cafe

Posted in Melbourne

Last updated on January 20, 2023

We hadn’t really been to the South Melbourne area much, but it’s nothing ventured, nothing gained when it comes to finding good food. Ciel Cafe had good reviews, so we thought we would check it out for ourselves.

ciel cafe outside
The exterior of Ciel Cafe.

“Ciel” means “sky” in French, which seemed an incongruous name to pick for a place on the ground floor of a brick warehouse-style building. Stepping through the door, it was certainly spacious on the inside though, with a high ceiling of exposed wooden beams, propped up by metal girders. Polished concrete floors continued the industrial look. Daylight streamed in through the windows, with sturdy barn doors that looked like they could be slid across for some shade. Plants in wire-frame cages added some softening green, and doubled as partitions between tables. We also appreciated that there was room between the tables, so you weren’t packed shoulder to shoulder with other diners. Chillout music played in the background (without intrusive bass beats), creating a relaxing atmosphere, almost akin to a day spa.

ciel cafe interior
A look at the interior of Ciel as you make your way through the entrance.

We were initially unsure after walking through the entrance, as you come to an open space without obvious signage, but staff quickly noticed and approached us. They showed us to the table, and brought us water (menus and glasses were ready at the table). The water container was something we hadn’t seen elsewhere – a clear bottle shaped like a milk carton, with “CIEL” emblazoned on one side. You can actually buy it, filled with different drinks, from their Instagram page.

ciel cafe bottle
The water bottle, amidst the other table settings.

The menu was printed on a single A3 size sheet, with food on one side and drinks on the other. A few food items were only available from 11am onwards, but most options were available from earlier. They had most of the usual brunch suspects, and had both sweet and savoury offerings (eggs benedict, scrambled eggs, french toast). There were things to suit most palates.

ciel cafe menu
The food offerings on the menu.

We began with drinks. The iced mocha was a good balance of coffee and chocolate, so you could taste both. It wasn’t heavily sweetened, just a light enough touch.

ciel cafe iced mocha
The iced mocha.
ciel cafe iced mocha
You can see that it’s a chocolatey mix.

They have different Ona Coffee blends recommended for their white and black coffees. We were also told that for the season, they had a Christmas Pudding blend. We chose their Raspberry Candy blend instead, described to have flavours of stewed mixed berries. The flat white did indeed have berry notes, and had good strength. It could have been a bit hotter though.

ciel cafe flat white
The flat white.
ciel cafe flat white
The flat white again.

The Desayuno quesadillas were described in the menu as having scrambled eggs, guacamole, smoked bacon, aged cheddar, corn, and charred capsicum, pressed in a soft tortilla with fresh Pico de Gallo. Though it sounds exotic, “desayuno” just means “breakfast” in Spanish. The dish had neatly arranged quesadilla triangles in a row, and a little mound of the Pico de gallo mix beside them. The tortillas were indeed soft and light, but not to fragile to hold the fillings. The contents of bacon, cheddar, eggs, corn, and capsicum, were not an innovative mix, but they are a classic combination for a reason. They were quite tasty all together, and the portion wasn’t a stingy one.

ciel cafe quesadillas
The Desayuno quesadillas, and Pico de gallo just beside.
ciel cafe quesadillas
The quesadillas at another angle so you can see some of the fillings.

The Eggs benedict was listed as having poached eggs, maple cured bacon, thyme and burnt butter hollandaise on house made hash browns, and pickled green apple slaw. These were also tidily presented, with the hash browns like little rafts the other components were perched on. The hash browns were nicely crisp outside, and soft inside, with the potato just discernible as separate strips rather than a mash. They were also well seasoned. The apple strips had a fresh tartness, balanced with a bit of sweetness, and offset the creamy hollandaise well. The dish came with two poached eggs, which we appreciated, as some places cut corners these days and just give you one. We found the overall proportions of other components to hash browns worked well, as our lament at Oppen was that it was mismatched and you ran out of hash brown too soon.

ciel cafe eggs benedict
The Eggs benedict.
ciel cafe eggs benedict
The dish closer up, so you can see the hash browns and other components.
ciel cafe eggs benedict
And the other side so you can see the apple slaw too.

Overall, we enjoyed our time at Ciel Cafe. The dishes weren’t necessarily groundbreaking, but they were well executed and tasty. It was a pleasant space to be in, and staff made us feel welcome. They explained food and coffee options to us, and always replenished our water before it ran out. It is a nice place to stop by if you’re in the area, even if just for coffee.

ciel cafe lights
The neon sign on one wall, with a message for your day.

Food: 3/4
Setting: 1.5/2
Service: 2/2
Overall: 6.5/8

Price point: $17 to $24 for more than eggs on toast. Our dishes $17 and $22.

Value: Alright.

Address: 48 Cecil St, Southbank
Phone: 03 9896 7995
Website: Ciel Cafe

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