I’m not sure what used to be housed in the prime corner site on Brunswick and Victoria Streets but now it’s a bustling cafe spilling out on the pavement tables. My dining companion and I visited Stagger Lee’s three times between us in one day (a record surely) and was thrilled with our experience each time.
The decor is pretty similar in aesthetic to Proud Mary – large communal tables festooned with blooms, smaller tables and a booth, a slightly intimidating coffee counter displaying a massive Synesso and a glass cabinet of ready-made sandwiches and treats.
The breakfast and lunch menu at Stagger Lee’s is short and sweet. There are some run-of-the-mill options which are highly priced ($10 milkshakes and $13.50 toastie?) so veer towards the more interesting options.
Regular readers will know that I don’t shy away from strong, punchy flavours in the morning. I made a beeline for The Mexican ($16); two lightly pan-fried corn tortillas from Casa Iberica topped with charred corn, tomatillo salsa, guacamole, two fried but still runny-yolked eggs, a dab of creme fraiche and garnished with fresh coriander and nigella seeds.
The bright yet light flavours melded well together, with the only thing missing being a hit of habanero sauce. I did notice some sriracha bottles so perhaps go with a squirt of that.
Also from the breakfast menu I tried with shrooms ‘n’ truffles ($17.50), a luxuriously rich dish of meaty pan-roasted pine mushrooms, creamy truffled polenta punctuated with a confit egg yolk and finished off with shavings of pecorino and ‘farmhouse crouts’ – roughly torn bits of fried bread. A winner if you like the earthiness of autumnal mushrooms.
A lighter but no less large option was the lunch salad of house-smoked local river trout shredded roughly into chunks, grilled asparagus, soft boiled egg, potatoes and some sort of unidentifiable but delicious green sauce ($19).
For dessert we shared another one of the breakfast dishes, described simply as ‘pumpkin and walnut’ ($16). It was two doorstop slabs of lightly spiced pumpkin loaf, vanilla-infused pumpkin marmalade, crunchy candied walnuts, tangy yoghurt ice cream and a light drizzle of Canadian maple syrup. It was quite a sweet, heavy dish – really more like a double serve of de-constructed pumpkin or carrot cake complete with cream cheese frosting. I think it would sit very uncomfortably if one person ate it all – so share the love!
The service throughout our various meals was friendly and efficient and we were asked each time with genuine interest how our meals were. To which I responded ‘EXCELLENT’ each time.