CH James is a fabulous cafe for brunch, lunch and all day dining and coffee in Fairfield on the fringe of the city. The World Loves Melbourne caught up with leading Melbourne bloggers at CH James for a Saturday brunch. The place was pumping both inside and outside, including their superb courtyard setting. One of the best in Melbourne? If you're looking for vibe, top notch food and coffee, and excellent service, CH James is one of the best.
CH James has a community feel about it. Station Street is iconic in itself and the open design of CH James where the inside cafe flows throught the open doors to the courtyard gives a sense of space and festivity. The cafe space is light and airy with period implements mounted on the wall in reference to local 1880s local entrepreneur hero CH James.
Head chef Tallon has a fine dining background in top Melbourne restaurants and the food he brings to CH James is savvy, delicious and full of technique. For us this is not the normal cafe food but like restaurant quality food in a cafe. The Smashed Avocado with Panko egg, fetta, dukkah spice, garlic yoghurt, chilli oil is surely one of the best in Melbourne, if not the best. The Panko egg is a point of difference and superb accompaniment to the tangy smashed avocado. Fetta combines wonderfully, and we love the hit of spice from the dukkah and the kick from the chilli oil. A hugely rewarding dish.
The brunch savvy continues with Brioche French Toast with thick-cut bacon, maple syrup, berries. Who ever thought of Brioche French Toast with thick-cut bacon? They deserve an award. This is a taste and texture triumph with a generous amount of bacon! A heary, sweet, savoury, salty brunch dish!
From another angle it almost looks like another dish. Impressive technique and presentation goes into these dishes. And they're not just instagram friendly, they also taste damn fine.
CH James has an excellent drinks list including Prosecco! A Saturday morning coffee is a given, but a glass or two of Prosecco even better!
We were given a taster of the Chia Pudding. Healthy style cafe dishes such as these are super popular.
A top notch Salmon brunch dish is something we desire and CH James hits the high notes with this Flaked Salmon with fetta, hummus, dukkah spice, poached eggs on toast. Generous amount of salmon is welcomed, and the hummus and dukkah bring out the salmon flavours and add a delightful creamy spicy element.
Pressed Ham Hock with poached eggs, hollandaise, pickled kohlrabi on toast is another savvy brunch dish. Pressed Ham Hock comes off the fork easily and every bite is melt in your mouth. This would appear a variation of an Eggs Benedict and more interesting and rewarding. Kohlrabi brings another modern element.
And of course first class coffee by Small Batch... We love an all day breakfast menu!
Time for another Prosecco!
Date and Walnut Loaf with banana cream, candied zest for a rewarding sweet breakfast.
For those keen for a fruit driven brunch dish check out the Spring Fruit Bowl with berry gel, honeyed yoghurt; we love the large pieces of fruit not just smaller pieces and the overall sophistication with candied fruit element.
The festive vibe also extends to the coffee window; grab and go coffee or sit at the bench and read the newspaper (or check your phone).
With the old church next door, garden patches and a large spacious courtyard, CH James is the perfect brunch destination. The place was packed inside and out while we were there on this fine Saturday morning. With such a buzz the service standards were still high; this cafe priding itself on engaging and attentive customer service. Upstairs at CH James is the function space named Valensia which is extremely popular for events, occasions, functions, and business groups.
CH James is a local hero cafe in Fairfield that is worth a drive from other parts of Melbourne. As we live in the eastern suburbs it's actually not too far down the eastern and off the Chandlers Hill exit to get to CH James. Surely one of the most stylish cafes in Melbourne and we think the food is up there in standard compared to any leading Melbourne cafe.