We had a very quiet Easter weekend lined up, so we were ready to go when Eliza tweeted us a tip: breakfast at Lolo & Wren in Brunswick West. It was a place we'd both heard of, but not one that we'd really paid any attention to, failing to notice as Lolo & Wren made it onto the Herald Sun's top 25 Melbourne breakfasts, The Age's guide to Melbourne's best sandwiches and into the upper echelon of The Age's cheap eats guide. Nevertheless, one look at the menu made it clear that we were in good hands: there's banoffee porridge ($12.50), caramelised pear, almond and walnut pancakes with marscapone, rhubarb and blueberry compote, mint and maple syrup ($15.50), a very fancy sounding bruschetta ($18.50) and plenty of other impressive options. There's not a lot on offer for vegans - an adapted version of a haloumi, beans, leek and vegetable escabeche dish ($16.50, and I'm not sure what they do instead of the haloumi) and a patatas bravas side ($9.50).
The cafe itself is a bit out of the way - tucked under a newish apartment block on Albion Street west of Melville Road. It has a very stylish fit-out, mixing a simple clean look with some hip recycled touches, like the communal table and main bar (built out of old wooden pallets). At 9am on Easter Sunday things are pretty quiet, but by the time we left at 10ish there wasn't a spare table to be found - Lolo & Wren have clearly won a devoted following since opening a little over a year ago.
I considered the haloumi dish but decided that I couldn't resist the allure of the sweetcorn and zucchini corn fritters with pepperonata, feta, pebre salsa, chilli jam and avocado ($16.80).
This was incredibly impressive - the fritters were the perfect balance of crispy exterior and puffy, soft interior served with a lovely mix of accompaniments. The chilli jam offered just a hint of spiciness, while the creamy, salty feta and tangy salsa kept every mouthful interesting. This is a brilliant breakfast - definitely one to make the trip for.
Cindy was drawn to the brioche French toast (with lemon curd, fresh orange, ricotta, candied zest, raspberry compote, baby basil and burnt orange syrup, $15.50).
It looked even better than my dish - a brilliantly presented plate that made me wish I'd gone with a sweet order for once. The lemon curd was a standout, and the berries and orange cut through the richness of the eggy bread and the ricotta. It was another great meal.
Lolo & Wren is a real find - fancyish breakfast dishes at pretty reasonable prices in a lovely setting. The staff were friendly and efficient, the coffee excellent and the menu well stocked with interesting dishes. It's not as conveniently located as some of our other favourites, but it's well worth a visit and will definitely be added to our rotation.
There's nothing but positivity about Lolo & Wren out there - check out grazing panda, In the Dough, Petit Miamx, Dammit Janet I Love Food, petit pixel design, dining nirvana, amystown, where food is, i am, Seismic Change, buttered, Better Than Walters, The Breakfast Adventurer, Dani Valent and Scuttlebean.
Lolo & Wren
484 Albion St, Brunswick West
menu: one, two
Accessibility: There's a flat entry into an interior that's moderately dense with tables. We ordered at the table and paid at a low-ish counter. We didn't visit the toilets but noticed a wheelchair-accessible sign for them.