Cam St Social Wembley is a new addition to Cambridge Street, and found opposite the imposing Wembley Hotel. Affectionately known as “The Cam”, its run by chef/owner Darren Walker and his wife Esther. Darren has previously banged the pans at The Shorehouse, and more recently the popular Hillarys spot Lot One Kitchen.
If the venue seems familiar, you’d be right. This is where Hermosa Cantina, a Spanish tapas restaurant, previously held residence. Cam St Social is more likely to please the everyday punter than its predecessor. It welcomes families, as well as those on date nights and enjoying a cheeky after work drink.
For day dwellers, coffee is from boutique roaster Precision Coffee and there’s a big brunch menu too. At The Cam “all day brunch” really means all day. Here you can grab bacon and eggs, 12 hour beef brisket, nourish bowls or the perennially popular smashed avo (with a twist of chili and tomato salsa), right up till 4.30pm.
We’re eager to check out the dinner menu. There’s parmi and pints across the road, as well as cheap food court eats, but there aren’t too many quality dining offerings in the immediate vicinity.
We walk in with Little Chef in tow. The airy dining room has warm wood tones with booths, tables and sofas. We choose a high table by the window. An engaging waitress takes our order from the compact drinks menu, which features wines from some smaller Australian producers. I choose a 2018 La Boheme ‘Act Three’ Pinot Gris, from the Yarra Valley. This blend also features riesling and gewürztraminer grapes, giving it fresh pear and musk notes.
The first of our entrees arrives, a plate of crisp mac and cheese croquets ($16), covered with liberal shavings of parmesan cheese. The gooey interior is oozing with cheese. We can’t get enough of the accompanying spicy jalapeño and pineapple jam.
Silky chicken liver paté ($14) is spread onto slices of toasted baguette (or gluten free bread in my case) with lashings of fig jam.
Another tasty dish, a sesame crispy skin duck ($26), with raw broccoli, beetroot and pink grapefruit salad is a very generous entrée.
Little Chef is pleased with the kids menu. There’s a good balance of both healthy and treat foods. He chooses the gourmet mini cheeseburger ($10), with hand cut fries, all made with quality produce.
Chef orders yet another scotch fillet ($37). Before I start my eye rolling, I notice that this is far from your regular steak, mash and jus combo. Served with a vibrant roast beet puree, steamed broccoli, pickled mushrooms, macadamia nut butter and a rich red wine jus. This hearty dish is divine. The beef is cooked perfectly pink, and has a deep charred flavour – I’ve not tried many tastier steaks. I have serious food envy.
My pick of pan fried red emperor ($37), with a sweet pea puree, and salt and vinegar potatoes is also a winner. Though I wish there is more of it. I am disappointed to see there are just six chips, ahem, salt and vinegar potatoes hiding under the tasty fish. I regularly drown my chips in malt vinegar, so these really hit the spot. I learn that they are far more complex than the humble chip, having been confit in flavoured oil and apple cider vinegar, before being deep fried.
I have more than enough room for dessert. An apple strudel ($12) is the perfect winter warmer, served with crème anglaise and vanilla ice cream.
It’s not unusual to enjoy a little cheese post-mains. A deliciously different dessert of chilli and fennel poached pear served with a double cream brie and caramelised peanuts is a show stopper – if you can stand the heat from the fiery syrup.
We like Cam St Social a lot – from the friendly, on-the-ball service to the warm vibe and interesting, well cooked dishes. Whether you like to wine and dine or brunch ‘n lunch, there’s plenty to sink your teeth into here. Great to see this new spot on Cambridge Street has hit the ground running. Be social and check it out.
Cam St Social – At a Glance
■ Cam St Social
353 Cambridge Street
Phone 9387 6414
■ Opening times
7.30am to 10pm
value for money 4
■ style – Modern Australian
■ wine – a small, though interesting
list of mainly small Australian producers.
■ Chef – Darren Walker
■ Owners – Esther and Darren Walker
■ feel – cool, casual and approachable
■ wheelchair access – yes
Entrée – $14 to $26
Main – $16 to $37
Dessert – $7 to $12
■ all in all – a laid back eatery with
very tasty food. Drop in for a coffee
and brunch or dinner over a bottle of wine.
Perfect for any social occasion!
For more information, see the Cam St Social Wembley website.