Coral Lee is a cute 50s cafe serving food and coffee in the surrounds of retro collectibles gathered by the owner Sam. The name of the cafe is inspired by the coral colour in the floral wallpaper which lines the back wall as well as the coral coloured paint on the fireplace’s chimney. The ‘Lee’ bit is anyone’s guess!
Almost all the decor in the cafe is vintage (except things like cutlery and some glassware) and the tunes were provided by an old vinyl player. I don’t think I’ll be able to hear Van Morrison’s ‘And It Stoned Me’ without thinking back to eating breakfast at Coral Lee.
The cafe is pretty small – there’s a front room with a few small tables, some street side seating and for warmer days a welcoming back courtyard with plants and flowers dotted around.
The decor may be vintage but the food is modern and wholesome. Amazingly, everything is made on premises using a small pizza oven!
We tried two breakfast dishes. First off, a light, summery plate of poached eggs with asparagus, juicy oven-roasted tomatoes, rocket, haloumi and onion jam. The dish was a pleasant combination of sweet, tart and savoury though texturally I would have preferred my asparagus less limp and my cheese more fried and stretchy rather than crumbly and firm ($16).
I preferred the more robust flavours of the spiced lamb generously speckled with pine nuts ($16). With each mouthful of toast I could choose to pile the mince with cooling labne or a pop of sweet roasted cherry tomato or some baked egg. Amazingly filling and full of peppery heat.
Coral Lee‘s most popular dish is pesto toast with grated beetroot and poached eggs and when you see it come steaming out of the kitchen with all that vibrant colour it’s easy to understand why. Apparently Sam removed it from the menu for about two days just to gauge customer reaction and due to the outcry she returned it to the menu where it has remained ever since :–)
The standout part of the meal for me was the amazingly light, fresh-out-the-oven apple and coconut muffin ($4). The secret to the almost absurd fluffiness is buttermilk – they use buttermilk in their hotcakes and the savoury muffins as well and can’t get enough of it.
Finally, the service at Coral Lee is super-friendly. Sam greeted every customer with a smile, often by name, and gave a cheery account of her weekend with every coffee order (coffee comes from Atomica).
Dropping into Coral Lee is like being served at your fun, well-dressed bakeanista best-friend’s house and we’ll definitely return on our next trip to Bright.
Coral Lee, 8 Barnard St, Bright 03 5755 5113