Little Deer Tracks
June 21, 2011
Have your say
IT'S early days but Little Deer Tracks deserves success. Opening on a residential street with limited passing trade has its risks - if the locals don't take to you, you're sunk. LDT seems to have pitched it just right and at three weeks old it's the new go-to hangout for Coburghers.
You might recognise its debonair owner, Marco Sellitto from the Continental (may it RIP), Marios and The Italian. He brings 23 years' front-of-house experience and a certain waistcoated elegance to the floor. In partnership - life and business - is Silvia Famularo, curator of the gallery side of the business, which exhibits local artists.
The menu is based on the type of food Sellitto's family eats at home - Italian, meat-free dishes with an organic focus. He's wary of the vegetarian tag - there are no tofu burgers, no meat substitutes, no alfalfa salads - and it's the kind of place where you could eat a couple of times before realising the menu is all-vegetarian.
A gentle health focus means that pure olive oil is used for frying, cheeses are rennet-free, the maple syrup is organic and the eggs are from chickens that roam free. Sellitto calls the sourdough bread his ''Pascoe Vale brew'' because he nurtured the starter for four years on his window sill.
All-day breakfasts are LDT's strength and, to really know a breakfast, look at its sides - here, they include fried haloumi; crunchy, home-made hash browns; delicious button mushrooms; and hollandaise made with a tarragon reduction.
The lunches, I liked less. The gnocchi were gorgeously pliable, small and nuggety, submerged in creamy sauce made creamier with the macadamia-coriander pesto and with a chilli after-heat. For me, it didn't work but if you're pro-cream and chilli, it will. The flavours in the porcini mushroom arancini were earthy and balanced but the rice could have done with a smidgen more time in the pot.
Spongy zucchini fritters, laced with dill and mint, had a pleasing heartiness, and the sour-cherry tart went well with the excellent coffee, a custom blend of organic Fair Trade East Timor with an organic, rainforest-aligned Nicaraguan bean.
Sellitto spent 18 months building the interior, including digging out the grease trap, which took two months and three jackhammers. The design is understated and the space welcoming, with an open kitchen, high counter papered with floral wallpaper, vintage tiles, 1950s copper light fittings and retro phone tables out front.
As for the name, the restaurant is right near the train tracks, and when Sellitto quit The Italian he became a live-in father to his three children - he says ''little deer tracks'' reminds him of the pitter-patter of little feet.
Coloured paper and crayons are tucked in key corners and there's a baby-change table but, like everything here, the ''family-friendly'' vibe isn't overdone; it's just an integral part of the cafe. It's a formula that's already on track.
Where 44 O'Hea Street, Coburg, 9354 3449
Prices Breakfasts, $7-$12.50; lunches, $7.50-$16.50; sweets, $6.50-$7
Cards AE DC MC V Eftpos
Open Mon-Fri, 7.30am-4.30pm; Sat-Sun, 8am-4.30pm
- Breakfasts, $7-$12.50; lunches, $7.50-$16.50; sweets, $6.50-$7
- Mon-Fri, 7.30am-4.30pm; Sat-Sun, 8am-4.30pm
- Cards accepted:
- AMEX, Diners Club, Mastercard, Visa, eftpos