Thursday, 7 June 2012

Cafe Lua - inner city charm

Cafe Lua is conveniently situated near Lord Uke.  Hence we have had couple of cafe and ukelele visits to this neck of the woods this year.  It is one of E's favourite places.  While I don't rate it quite as highly, I am happy to keep going back.

Let me start with a few observations.  The ambience is bright and welcoming.  Lots of retro laminex tables, old kitchen cannisters and hessian bags on the walls as well as a space for art work.  While they have plenty of vegetarian dishes, it seems unusual that they have gluten free dishes marked on the menu but not vegetarian or vegan.  Parking is a nightmare around this place unless you go to the Lygon Court carpark.  The service is pleasant.

There is not much space for a pram but I noticed a neighbouring table had a highchair at our recent visit.  I have visited a couple of times when it was really busy and once when it was fairly quiet.  When quiet there was enough room for Sylvia to run about.  When busy, we serendipitously had a stack of golden books and a wee rabbit on our table to keep Sylvia amused.  On both visits Sylvia has been pleased with some a very nice fruit bread with cheese on the side.

My first visit was on a work lunchtime (after seeing Cindy and Michael write about it).  I have written about it here but I thought I would mention it again to help you keep up.  I had a pumpkin chia pancake.  It didn't live up to my expectations but still delighted me that they would experiment with chia in this way.  The yoghurt lentil and spinach salad was too creamy for me but, again, an interesting savoury offering.

I was interested at a smoothie with hazelnut milk and basil - as well as regular banana and strawberry.  It was quite floral, which I assume is the basil asserting itself.  My main problem though is that I make smoothies with lots of fruit and always find them too milky when eating out.

The second time was a visit with E and Sylvia (and dolly).  I really really wanted to try the pancakes with banana, pecans and caramel sauce.  So I chose a spinach and feta savoury pastry.  Quite nice and crispy on the outside once I had sent it back due to a cold middle.  The pancakes were the main event.  As seems to be the way they cook pancakes at Cafe Lua, they were soft rather than fluffy (and I think they were gluten free).  The bananas were a bit ripe for me and the pecans were not quite right but the caramel sauce was fantastic.  I could have just eating the pancakes and sauce and been very happy!

Most recently I really wanted to try the corn cakes but I was told that they would not change dishes when it was busy.  I was surprised.  Not eating meat and disliking eggs, means that I often ask for changes in breakfast dishes.  Most places are fine with that.  E eats everything.  He chose the corn cakes so at least I could taste a corner.  They come with bacon, poached egg, avocado, roasted tomatoes and coriander.  He raved about it.  The corn cakes were nice, though quite soft inside.  E also ordered some hash browns on the side to share.  (I don't usually include meat photos but I wanted a photo of the corn cakes.)

Instead of the corn cakes I ordered the smashed avocado on sourdough with feta and lemon.  I also ordered some tomato on the side.  It was lovely.  The feta seemed a bit strong after eating almond feta at home but there was heaps of creamy avocado and the lemon finished it off nicely.  I would have loved it even more if not feeling a bit disappointed about not having my first choice.

After our meal, E and I were talking about what else we might order from the menu.  I want to try the home made baked beans with some of the side dishes.  He might try the big brekky.  Sylvia will probably have the fruit bread and cheese.  Though she might prefer some of the caramel pecan bars that she was eyeballing as I paid the bill.  No doubt we will enjoy more visits there.

Cafe Lua
Corner of Elgin & Drummond Streets, Carlton (Map)
Tel 03 9348 1118
Open: Mon–Fri: 7am–4pm, Sat–Sun: 8.30am–4.30pm
http://cafelua.com/

10 comments:

  1. I like the way these dishes are presented - either that or it's your photos :) - and the way they do slightly unusual vegetarian combinations. I am with you on modifications though, I always feel a bit put off by places that won't make them, especially if it's a simple 'please leave off' request.

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    1. Thanks Kari - the presentation is quite good (I just point and shoot in a cafe and rarely take too many as I don't feel that comfortable taking food pics in public). I thought it odd they wouldn't modify the dish - the waitress didn't even ask what modifications I was after, just said no changes

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  2. That avocado / lemon dish looks delightful!

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    1. Thanks Lisa - I am very partial to some avocado

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  3. what a beautiful meal! it looks delicious! it looks like they really take the time to plate the food beautifully -- i love that! Even the avocado on toast looks gourmet and artistic! YUM!! and those pancakes.....wow oh wow! thanks for sharing!

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    1. thanks GF happy tummy - it is nicely presented - even the extras like hash browns look like part of the dish

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  4. That's nice of E to order the corn cakes so you could try them and it sounds like he was amply rewarded which is great! :D

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    1. Thanks Lorraine - I think e had already decided on the corn cakes too - I'd like to think that he ordered them just for me but probably not :-(

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  5. Everything looks terrific and I like the ambience of the place, too. Pumpkin-chia pancakes do sound very inventive--what was it you didn't like? I'm with you on pancakes that are soft (and too moist) in the middle--much prefer the light, fluffy, cakey kind. :)

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  6. Everything looks so gorgeous! Apart from the cold middle thing, of course. But I love the sound of the pancakes and the smashed avo is so pretty :)

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