Pallet Espresso

Restaurants Melbourne
4 out of 5 stars

This sister café to Japanese lunch champion Purple Peanuts is putting teriyaki on your burger and doing breakfast for chump change

When was the last time $10 bought you anything more than Vegemite on toast and a biff on the ear? It has somehow become totally normal to pay $11 even for porridge, and though you may be furnished with a bucket of the stuff, it’s still gruel. But at Pallet, they’re saying enough. They’re rolling back the years – and the dollars – and serving a menu that kicks every goal in terms of quality and still gives you change from a tenner.

This is everything we want a city café to be. The coffee is single origin from Sensory Lab and they won’t charge extra if you want soy milk or decaf (but they threaten to if you ask for it hot). The milk is even pumped straight to the counter, so they’re not bashing the earth with a million milk cartons.

Breakfast tubs of fruit and yoghurt, fancified with burnt orange sauce, are $3.80 – coins! For $8 you can get scrambled eggs folded around big, soft hunks of house-smoked salmon. It’s not huge, but only in comparison to those $16 mega-breakfasts we can’t ever finish anyway. For a dollar extra you can upgrade your salmon-eggs experience to a skillet holding a fluffy salmon omelette, stacked with silken tofu cubes and chives and served with a fresh, cool side of chickpeas, coriander and avocado in a wasabi buttermilk dressing. Them's 1997 prices.

That Japanese twist is no supplicating curtsy to the ongoing sushi craze. Pallet is the sibling of (and attached to) Collins Street’s Purple Peanuts, adding breakfast and Jap-Italian food mash-ups to the former’s arsenal of sushi and curry bowls. That means crunchy karaage chicken swaddled in a coleslaw-packed burger, and salads uniting chickpeas, broccoli and zucchini with a pesto-style dressing, Japanified with sour citrus yuzu.

It’s all punching fresh and cheap and you even get a great space thrown into the bargain. Tabletops are made from multi-coloured wooden slats, sandwiched together and glazed with a thick resin, and chunky nautical ropes criss-cross the entrance with filamental bulbs sprouting out the end like luminous fists. The only downside is a cash-only policy, but when breakfast costs you less than a crisp blue Paterson, you can practically get the next punter in line to spot you.

By: Gemima Cody


Venue name: Pallet Espresso
Address: G21 (Behind Purple Peanuts)
620 Collins St
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 7am-5pm
Transport: Nearby stations: Southern Cross
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