Food: Crumbed Mac n Cheese with mushrooms, Chilli Scramble, Gravity Waffles
Collective has been on my visit list since first arriving in Melbourne, so I was delighted that we recently got to tick this off!
The first thing that struck me was the size – I imagined one of those huge Melbourne cafes, but in reality Collective is tiny, and tucked away on a Camberwell side street. It’s not the place for an intimate brunch as its small floor space is made up of communal tables and window benches, and it’s consistently busy well into the day. But its lively, fun atmosphere has a real buzz and there’s a friendly feel to the cafe which is hard to match.
The menu is fairly traditional – smashed avo, fritters, big breakfast etc. however, the odd dish – like the mushroom risotto or mac n cheese croquettes show that they’re not scared of trying new things and putting something a little different out there. We also really liked how they had a range of light and quick bites, like sausage and egg muffins and toasties.
My latte was mild with a nutty flavour and was a very enjoyable coffee. It was quickly gone before our first dish hit the table, but I was soon distracted once the food arrived! We started with the mac n cheese croquette, which I ordered with the mushrooms instead of the crab. I love mushies but I actually regret this decision, as they didn’t give enough contrast of flavour from the croquette and I think this dish would have worked soooo much better with the crab. The croquette itself had a great cheese pull and a smooth consistency with nice, soft pasta, and the green cheese sauce had an enjoyable flavour too – I just missed that kick that the crab would have brought.
Next we tried the chilli scramble, and boy they don’t hold back on that chilli! That orange colour isn’t there just to make it look good. With the spring onions it is a different kind of flavour, but grab a bite with the gorgeous cheesy bread and this really balances out that kick. New to the menu, I can imagine this one being a popular choice for chilli scramble fans.
Finally, we got the famous gravity waffles which are just a stroke of genius! While I won’t give away any secrets, the simplicity of how this dish is produced vs the effectiveness of the look is immense. I enjoyed this dish far more than I expected – ordering it more for the look that the flavour. The waffles were soft, and were a good size. I liked the addition of the toffee popcorn to add some crunch, and the simple, classic flavours worked very well – we definitely left Collective suitably impressed.
Address: 3 Cookson Street, Camberwell
Mon 7am to 4pm
Tue 7am to 4pm
Wed 7am to 4pm
Thu 7am to 4pm
Fri 7am to 4pm
Sat 8am to 4pm
Sun 8am to 4pm
Parking: It’s Camberwell, so parking can always be a bit hit and miss, but we found a street park less than 500m from the cafe quite easily.
Getting here on PT: It’s 2 minutes from Camberwell train station on the Alamein, Belgrave and Lilydale lines, and also easily reached from the 72 tram route – alight at Camberwell Station.
Disclaimer: We dined as guests of Collective Espresso, Camberwell. Reviews are honest and based on our own personal experiences. We cannot guarantee things at a cafe won’t change including, but not limited to, menu items and opening hours, so please confirm any details with the venue before visiting