385 Victoria Street Abbotsford, Victoria 3067
|Opening hours||Mon-Fri 7.30am-3pm,Sat 8am-3pm,Sun 9am-3pm|
|Prices||Moderate (mains $20-$40)|
|Payments||eftpos, AMEX, Mastercard, Visa|
|Phone||03 9427 8818|
There are so many cafes in Melbourne, I'm sure there's room - indeed, a need - for Little Big Sugar Salt, a place that takes the traditional menu paradigm and transmogrifies it into a document that may make you feel confused, delighted and hungry all at once.
LBSS announces just eight dishes on a menu wheel according to whether they're little, big, sweet (sugar) or savoury (salt). It's a talking point but the idea is also to remove the exhausting choices offered at many cafes. Instead, diners are encouraged to decipher whether they're starving, merely peckish, craving sweets or feeling healthy, then put their trust in the chef. While waiting (and the wait can be rather leisurely), there are plenty more jokes and wordplays to pore over.
The first time I visited, I found it all rather perplexing, as though Melbourne had reached its hipster peak and the rest of us had been sloughed off along the way. Then I had a coffee - a sweet, toasty, chocolatey New Zealand blend - and settled into the groove.
Crumpets with blue cheese, peanut butter and caramelised banana helped: the weird combination is rich and ravishing, and I forgave the supermarket crumpets when I realised the food emanates from a nook with just one burner, a minuscule oven and a grill.
Also springing from this tiny galley are alluring daily sandwiches, such as cheddar, leek and pickle, and a tasty breakfast board called ''All the Things'', with terrine, smoked salmon, poached egg, beetroot with dukkah, and a house-pickled onion that not only cleared my sinuses, it whooshed through my brain, ensuring I remembered to pick up my dry-cleaning.
LBSS opened in April and is owned by five people, only one of whom has prior hospitality experience. The others (a copywriter, designer, builder and carpenter) are smart cookies who know what they like about cafes.
The setting is a house-like corner building with three distinct rooms decked with wry art and a warm, bespoke fitout featuring recycled timber and steel. LBSS can start off feeling like an in-joke (and the #selfiestation in the bathroom doesn't help), but everyone is welcome to laugh along, even if they don't have a fixie bike, an Instagram account, or a fascination with bizarre crumpet toppings.
3.5 stars out of 5