MELBOURNE | Last year I visited Basement Café for What’s On Melbourne, a small, eclectic, family-run Melbourne café serving up reliable versions of Melbourne brunch favourites, with a twist. Owner Elbert Estampador slowly introduced specials that leaned on his Filipino heritage post-lockdown. They were a hit, with Filipinos and non-Filipinos alike. Gradually, many of these dishes made it onto the menu proper.
Speaking to Elbert at the time, he told me of his desire to go “all in” with the Filipino concept. Almost a year to the day after that conversation, that dream is a reality. Elbert has moved the café to a larger location on Spring Street, and renamed it CEREE (the initials of everyone in the family). I popped in for What’s On Melbourne to grab some photos and find out more.
The new space is substantially bigger than the old space. The natural light-filled courtyard is where you’ll want to be sitting when the weather is nice. Walk through and you’ll find several shelves stocked with Filipino produce and snacks – all of the things that customers have been requesting over the years. To the right, and wrapped around the courtyard, is the main counter and indoor seating. Look around, and you’ll find Elbert’s artwork adorning the walls.
Coming over from the old space are the signature silog meals (your choice of protein or vegetable, along with fried egg, garlic rice, salad and vinegar dressing). You’ll also find things like BBQ skewers; pancit malabon (savoury pork noodle served with egg and pork crackling); and beef kare kare (beef with green beans, bok choy, egg plant, and sauteed shrimp in a peanut sauce). Even dinuguan, a rich diced pork blood stew with garlic, chilli and vinegar, which is one of my favourite Filipino dishes, makes an appearance.
If you’re looking for something sweet, you’ll find halo halo (ube ice-cream with palm fruit, coconut gel, red beans and leche flan), turon (banana and jackfruit spring rolls), cakes with Filipino flavours, and more. To drink, its traditional and non-traditional espresso based coffee drinks, plus Filipino juices and sodas.
285 Spring Street
Telephone: (03) 9329 8000
Sun, Tue – Thu: 9:00am to 9:00pm
Fri – Sat: 9:00am to 10:00pm