Dead Man Espresso @ 35 Market Street, South Melbourne
2 April 2011
I was first drawn to Dead Man Espresso over a year ago by its coffee – unsurprising given that it was, and still is as far as I know, owned and operated by two Mark Dundon alumni. I was not disappointed. On that first occasion I was impressed with their “Dead Man” blend, which was roasted by Seven Seeds. As an espresso, it was smooth and buttery and exhibited a caramel sweetness.
This time around, Dead Man Espresso was pouring, what I assume was, the Seven Seeds blend instead of their signature Dead Man blend. While the blend had changed, the standard of coffee preparation had not – my espresso was well made in the standard Melbourne coffee style with a thick layer of dense crema covering a deeply flavoured short coffee.
I followed my espresso with Thomas Keller’s BLT. For those who are not familiar with Thomas Keller, he is the owner and executive chef of The French Laundry, a restaurant twice named by the San Pellegrino guide as the world’s best, and Per Se, a restaurant currently ranked number 10 in the world by the same guide, and is perhaps America’s foremost culinary icon. His version of the BLT is a gastronomic interpretation of the humble sandwich. Having never sampled Thomas Keller’s BLT, I cannot speak to whether Dead Man Espresso’s example faithfully adheres to the original recipe. At the very least, it does appear to resemble the official version.
Sandwiched between thick slices of buttered and toasted brioche are substantial portions of roasted pork belly, complete with indulgent layers of pork fat – a cheeky substitution for the traditional bacon. The lettuce requirement is satisfied by the use of rocket puree inside the sandwich and the serving of additional dressed rocket leaves. Tomato arrives in the form of a gazpacho. Although unrecognisable as a BLT, this sandwich wantonly disregards the current trend towards healthy eating and, as a result, is abundantly flavoursome – the slightly sweet flavour of the brioche is enhanced by the butter and the intense pork flesh is accentuated by the liberal helpings of pork fat. Rounding out the sandwich are the aromatic rocket puree and the mildly acidic gazpacho. As a reinvention of a traditional sandwich, Dead Man Espresso’s BLT is a triumph.
Having only been to Dead Man Espresso twice, I can only attest to the unerring excellence of its coffee and the indulgent deliciousness of its BLT. While that is a somewhat limited sample of Dead Man Espresso’s offerings, it is more than sufficient for me to wholeheartedly recommend it.