The Brooding Architect and I first visited Jungle Juice about 4 years ago, when we were still living in Brisbane and on holidays in Melbourne. In typical Melbourne style the weather was wet and miserable (despite being Spring) and being Queenslanders, we were grossly under prepared and sought refuge in this cozy, hole in the wall café.
Even though new cafés seem to open in Melbourne on what seems like a weekly basis, Jungle Juice is one of those places we always find ourselves going back to. It is a combination of the Little Golden Books menus (see the link for those of you too young to remember these), consistently good coffee and tasty bagel treats. I also think the fact that the owners have retained a very hands on role in the business (they can often be found out the back cooking up bagels, or running orders out), helps keep standards very high.
Our most recent visit to Jungle Juice took place last Sunday. We ordered 4 coffees (which probably explains why I could not get to sleep that night), a John West Bagel ($14) and a Burger Bagel ($10.50).
The bagels at Jungle Juice have crunchy toasted shells, filled with soft dense bread in the middle. Only recommended for those who are not afraid of carbs.
The John West Bagel comes with a generous serving of smoked salmon, avocado, tangy capers, peppery rocket and two poached free range eggs on top. The eggs have deep orange yolks – a tell tale sign of freshness and quality. In my mind the John West could only be improved by providing a wedge of lemon on the side – just to help further cut through the richness of the smoked salmon. I am a lemon fiend though.
The Burger Bagel comes with a homemade beef pattie, bacon, cheese, tomato relish, rocket and Jungle Mayo. Not 100% sure what Jungle Mayo is – I think it is traditional egg mayonnaise with extra lemon zest and herbs. Whatever it is, it is good. As all good burgers must be, the beef pattie is thick, juicy and smoky, perfectly complemented by the sweet tomato relish. I also splashed on some hot Tabasco sauce, which I cannot seem to get enough of at the moment. Seeing as though you can’t get a sandwich for much less than $10 in the City, the Bagel Burger is fantastic value.
Jungle Juice also have a really extensive range of coffees – well beyond the usual range of flat whites, lattes and cappuccinos. When I am feeling nostalgic for Singapore I order the Saigon – a shot of espresso, with condensed milk and hot water on the side. The closest thing to a sweet cup of kopi I have managed to find in the City, walking distance to the office.
The Brooding Architect always orders a strong flat white on full fat milk - in rebellion of the ‘watery’ skim milk I force him to have at home. I have to admit that the full fat creaminess of a Jungle Juice coffee shits all over my watery homemade efforts.
We also managed to have a chat to the owner while we were there, who mentioned that weekends at Jungle Juice have been pretty quiet due to the miserable long winter Melbourne has suffered through. If you don’t really care about the Second Grand Final this Saturday (I do), you should take advantage of the lull and head over for a bagel and coffee fix.