In the nether regions of Brunswick West and at the base of an uninspiring high rise block lies Lolo and Wren, a little cafe that’s gained a loyal following thanks to imaginative Spanish-inspired food, Five Senses coffee and a welcoming vibe. It’s clearly a labour of love for the owners, who are in charge of the kitchen and front of house and have named the cafe after their two children.
I’ve enjoyed weekend breakfast there on several occasions and each time I was lucky to get a seat. It’s the kind of place where people reserve seats to eat breakfast and there’s often a patient queue outside. Families, young couples, retirees and elderly relations were all to be found eating there on my visits.
Lolo and Wren‘s focus is on using local, free range and organic produce where possible. Their daytime menu is certainly not run-of-the-mill. It’s split into sections – breakfast things and then ‘Croque and Roll’ which is more lunch style bready options – but there’s no stopping you from ordering from that selection for breakfast.
Which is how I came to eat a huge chicken burger and spicy patatas bravas to start my day! This was no ordinary burger though. It was called the chicken chori-pan and was juicy escallops of chicken with grilled chorizo, smashed avocado, spinach, red onion and garlicky aioli slathered a fat brioche bun ($18.50). So damn finger lickin’ good! And the mound of accompanying fried potato cubes could easily be a meal of its own. Luckily I was allowed to take the remainder home with me as it would have been such a shame to leave those crunchy, punchy potatoes behind.
On a subsquent visit to I managed to fit in two dishes. Mainly because for the first time ever Lolo and Wren convinced me to order a salad for breakfast – a miracle for this avowed non-salad enthusiast.
This salad was a substantial sort-of-paleo breakfast of grilled barrel aged halloumi imported from Cyprus and unlike any halloumi I’ve eaten in Australia with its pungent, almost goaty aroma. Nestled underneath was a cup of radicchio hiding some vinegary leek and vegetable escabeche with white beans, some overhanging long green beans and for extra crunch some triangles of polenta. It was so beautifully presented that it almost seemed a shame to destroy the delicately balanced tower.
My second dish was a toss up between the french toast and pancakes. The brioche french toast ($15.50) won only because it was a smaller size, but not insubstantial by any means. Two thick slices Brasserie Bread’s brioche loaf cooked to golden crispness with fluffy ricotta underneath, a wash of lemon curd and burnt orange syrup on top, plus some chunky raspberry compote and segments of citrus to cut through the richness. Greenery peeped through in the form of carefully picked baby basil.
Despite the hectic pace of Sunday morning brunchers my food came quickly and service was cheerful. There are lots of interesting items on the menu and since its opening about a year ago Lolo and Wren has been awarded the Herald Sun’s top 25 Melbourne breakfasts, The Age’s guide to Melbourne’s best sandwiches and three stars in The Age’s Good Food Under $30. A place worth travelling for!