American diner Sookie La La has set up shop on the Thornbury/Northcote border of High Street, where the 86 tram runs virtually empty and it’s easy to find a car park.
Sookie La La‘s aesthetic is pared back art deco, with wooden diner booths, high padded leather stools by the bar and two small tables fronting the unadorned glass window, making you the window dressing.
The small menu is classic all-American with a few touches of Central America tossed in. You’ll find burgers, fries, bagels and pie, along with serious ice cream sundaes like the ones I used to get at the Big Pineapple.
Unable to decide amongst the ‘shorts’ list I went for a buffet approach and ordered the Cortes taco ($12.50), the sorullitos ($7.50) and a half serve of the mac ‘n’ cheese with kaiserfleisch ($4.5).
The taco was a substantial beast. It wasn’t really authentic with the addition of scrambled egg but more of a hybrid Mexican/American breakfast dish. The tortillas were dry rather than pliable but the combination of black beans and the punchy tomato salsa zested up with fresh lime made up for the base’s unappealing texture.
The mac ‘n’ cheese came in its own miniature paella pan and was addictive. The cheese was creamy and mild, accented with little salty cubes, seeded mustard and rosemary and dusted off with smoky paprika. I could have easily eaten the full serve!
The sorullitos were billed as Puerto Rican hushpuppies, which turned out to be deep-fried cornmeal/polenta and manchego balls . The five balls came served in a coffee mug (cute!) accompanied by a very mild chipotle aioli. It’s the sort of dish that’s best shared – otherwise you won’t have room for dessert.
Ta dah! We shared the strawberry ice cream sundae with a drizzle of hot chocolate fudge sauce, a liberal sprinkle of honey roasted cashews and two jaunty syrup waffles wedged in the mountain of ice cream. It’s a bargain at $8 considering I paid $6 for a single scoop of ice cream recently. I’m returning to try their other flavours and for those with dairy intolerances or are vegan, you can even try the coconut silk sorbet sundae!
On my way out I spied a generous slab of pumpkin pie ($6.50) made by the owner. I couldn’t resist taking some away or you can have it at Sookie La La served with ice cream.
As befits an nostalgic favourite 50s diner the service at Sookie La La was friendly and welcoming and the solid food will want you coming back for more.