275 Arden Street Coogee, New South Wales 20340450 118 744
|Opening hours||Mon-Sun, 7am-4pm; Fri-Sat, 6pm-10pm|
|Prices||Moderate (mains $20-$40)|
There are a lot of Brits in Coogee. The suburb has roughly double the usual number of British-born people than the NSW and Australian average, and one in four locals identify as having English ancestry. So it's a pretty safe bet that if you build a cafe featuring full English breakfasts, kedgeree and bacon and egg butties, they will come.
The Little Kitchen is on Arden St, just a few steps from the main beachfront drag. The look is sleek, clean and stylishly Brit-meets-mod-coastal-Oz, from the signage to the white-painted wood-panelled walls lined with wooden planter boxes, and heavy timber tables.
The owners, Neil and Amy Thompson, are a British-Aussie hybrid themselves: she's Aussie, he's a self-described "geezer" who used to head the pub kitchen at Paddington's Four in Hand. The idea behind their first cafe was to create something unpretentious and approachable.
We arrive on a brisk late-winter morning. A barista station hisses by the door. Families take the smaller tables inside while young couples sit at the bench by the window drinking from jars next to artful vases of dried native flowers.
We manage to find a free table outside, where the blue lap blankets on each chair are a thoughtful touch.
The menu spans British nostalgia and contemporary Aussie cafe. So there's avocado on toast, of course, with poached eggs, roast tomato, and buttermilk curd. Cured ocean trout is paired with zucchini and mint salad and scrambled eggs.
Then there's the full English breakfast "with all the trimmings". The plate arrives looking very full indeed: two fried eggs, a huge pile of grilled - rather than crisp-fried - bacon, a slab of home-made black pudding, roast tomato, a slender pork sausage, a little dish of baked beans, and a hash brown (disappointing, one straight out of the box). After the recent trend for American food it's a welcome change to eat old-school British baked beans, studded with ham off the bone in a light tomatoey sauce, rather than drenched in molasses. We were expecting more of a twist on a classic, but those hankering for a traditional fry-up would be thrilled.
A bacon and egg butty, meanwhile, gets an update with its soft brioche bun and just-set fried egg sprinkled with Maldon salt, sitting on a pile of bacon with sweet, HP-sauce-spiked tomato relish.
On the drinks front, tea is taken seriously here, as one would expect, with five varieties of Tea Craft loose-leaf, while our Double Roasters piccolo lattes are rich with a hint of bitterness.
The kedgeree is the pick of our order and makes me wonder why we don't see it on menus more often. A vibrant pile of sweetly curried golden rice is studded with smoked cod, crowned with a split soft-boiled egg, a scattering of crispy fried shallots and fresh mint. It's the perfect brunch dish for a cool morning. I'd have preferred, however, more of a spice hit.
The menu's sweet options include fruit toast with lemon curd and French toast with fruit compote and spiced nuts. Our table splits a plate of cinnamon-poached pears with a crunchy rolled oat crumble. It's comforting and familiar yet light, with an accompanying creamed home-made ricotta.
Judging by the throng here on our visit, The Little Kitchen has built a strong following since opening in February. Unpretentious and approachable is clearly a strategy that's working.
The picks Kedgeree, bacon and egg butty
The coffee Double Roasters
The look Rustic minimalism
The service Friendly and eager to please