15 Urquhart Street
Coburg Vic 3058
Housed in what was once the front reception of Pentridge Prison’s notorious D Division, The Glass Den is definitely the café of the moment. You just have to drive by on any day of the week and see the queues of diners waiting for a table to know that something good is being produced in this historic setting. Instagram feeds are regularly filled with pictures of their many photogenic dishes and foodies can’t get enough of their creative and dare I say theatrical offerings.
Despite the intimidating bluestone prison walls that frame part of the space, surprisingly it remains welcoming, fresh and airy. It almost resembles a conservatory or a greenhouse which is in complete contrast to its previous use.
They have a solid base menu with a great mix of sweet and savoury dishes which is supported by a really impressive specials menu. If anything, some of these specials are so good, namely the soft shell crab croissant and the rocky road brioche French toast, that they should form part of their base offering. On top of this, their coffee game is strong with St.Ali beans on the brew.
We couldn’t resist the look of the Rocky Road Brioche French Toast (with butterfly pea flower mousse, wild berries, chocolate crumble, chocolate ganache, house made sorbet, hazelnut and burnt marshmallow), so naturally we ordered a couple of serves to share. This vibrant dish was a real mixed bag of flavour. The toast itself was fluffy, moist and melted in my mouth. The chocolate crumb and ganache provided a real decadence to the dish, which was balanced out by the freshness of the fruit and berry sorbet, albeit a little too bitter for my liking.
The Scot Free Salmon (beetroot & thyme cured salmon with potato gratin, asparagus, candy striped beets, olive soil, squid ink whipped feta, beetroot mousse and house made fruit caviar) was another impressive dish, particularly given its dramatic presentation. The dish was delivered to the table covered in a smoke filled cloche. As we removed the cloche we were met by the strong aroma of smoke as it wafted into the air. Once the smoke has dissipated, we got an opportunity to see the beautifully plated salmon. The dish was very intelligently assembled, with each element bringing another level of flavour and depth. I especially liked the little bursts of flavour that came from the fruit caviar, which helped to balance out the richness of the smoked salmon.
This place really has it all, an incredibly iconic setting, a quality progressive menu and a hoard of loyal followers. So if you haven’t already, it’s time to visit Coburg and brunch to your hearts content.