Lolo and Wren

484 Albion Street, Brunswick West, Victoria

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Welcoming: Lolo and Wren cafe.
Welcoming: Lolo and Wren cafe. Photo: Ken Irwin

Kylie Northover

Where and what

Deep in West Brunswick (so deep it's almost Moonee Ponds), Lolo and Wren is easy to miss, tucked away in a strip of shops at the front of a newish apartment block on Albion Street. But its locale hasn't stopped the hype building since the cafe opened early this year, serving all-day breakfasts and lunches unlike anything you'd find in this residential pocket. Last month Lolo and Wren started opening for dinner on Friday and Saturday nights, serving tapas.

Run by former Richmond Hill Larder chef Franco Caruso and his wife, Karen, the emphasis is on Spanish influences, all created from local produce, and their suppliers include Melbourne Rooftop Honey, Jonesy's Dairy milk, Golden Plains Pork, Flinders Island Meat and Casa Iberica Latino Goods.

Banoffee porridge.
The almost-famous banoffee porridge. Photo: Ken Irwin

Where to sit

You're hard pressed to get a seat here on a Saturday morning but there are tables inside and out, including a big communal table made from recycled timber, and - crucially in this part of town - pram room and high-chairs.

Drink

Coffee comes from 5 Senses and the ethically sourced tea from Chamellia Organic Tea and Tisane.

The cafe got its liquor licence a couple of months ago and, along with local wines, there's a range of beer including Mountain Goat IPA, Cricketers Arms Lager and Lucky Duck Cider and margaritas and jugs of sangria for their tapas dinners.

Eat

The usual breakfast suspects are all present (and served all day), as well as some adventurous incarnations - the likes of the almost-famous banoffee porridge and breakfast carpaccio of smoked salmon, mixed citrus, fennel and radish. Lunch gets a little more serious, with changing daily specials alongside regulars like a crispy croque monsieur ($15.50), chicken chori-pan, (escallops of chicken with grilled chorizo, smashed avocado, spinach red onion and garlic aioli served on a brioche bun, $18.50) and the amazing drunken swine ''pork bun'', succulently slow-roasted pulled Golden Plains pork shoulder on a brioche bun with celeriac slaw, apple, toasted almond and sherry vinaigrette for $18.50. It's a lunch item, but it's practically dinner-sized.

The new tapas menu features Crystal Bay prawns in garlic, chilli, olive oil, lemon and parsley, ($12.50), tinto wings, sticky spiced chicken wings in red wine, fennel seed and tomato barbecue sauce ($9), el chancho, fried morcilla sausage with slow cooked Western Plains pork shoulder, cider chutney and shaved green apple and some excellent vegie options, including grilled taleggio beans - slow-cooked Borlotti beans in smoked paprika ragu with grilled taleggio on organic sourdough crostini topped with torn basil ($10) and roast cauliflower and king brown mushroom salad with sweet and sour Jerez sultanas, goat's cheese and quinoa pan grattato for $12.50. With these prices and serving sizes, Lolo's new dinner opening hours could well expand.

Who's there

Families, locals stopping off for a decent coffee on their dog walks (water bowls supplied) and possibly even people who have crossed over from east of Melville Road.

Why bother

If you live in the area, you'll know the answer to that. But there's also the all-local produce, fresh ingredients and inventive menu.

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484 Albion Street, Brunswick West, Victoria

  • Cuisine - Spanish, Modern Australian
  • Features - Family friendly, Licensed, Outdoor seating
  • Owners - Franco and Karen Caruso
  • Opening Hours - Open for breakfast and lunch from 7am-4pm Monday-Friday, 8am-4pm weekends, and from 6.30pm-9.30pm Friday and Saturday nights (bookings recommended).
  • Author - Kylie Northover
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