132 Camberwell Rd Hawthorn East, VIC 3123
|Opening hours||Mon-Sat 7am-4pm; Sun 8am-4pm.|
|Features||Breakfast-brunch, Vegetarian friendly, Gluten-free options, Wheelchair access, Family friendly, Accepts bookings|
|Prices||Moderate (mains $20-$40)|
|Payments||eftpos, Cash, Visa, Mastercard|
|Phone||03 9882 0181|
It's not even September but I'm going to call it: 2017's most exciting brunch can be found at new Hawthorn East cafe Light Years.
And why wouldn't it be, with Simon Ward, the man who brought soft-shell crab burgers and breakfast ramen to (now defunct) Fitzroy cafe Hammer and Tong, on the pans.
The drawcard is "pixel avocado" – imagine the avocado emoji in low res and you're on the right track. Posting this dish on social media is about to become a bucket-list goal for every food blogger in Melbourne.
It's proof that changing the shape of an ingredient (thanks to a crafty vegetable chopping contraption) can radically alter its enjoyment, although the accompanying edamame hummus, with its yuzu togarashi kick, and gochujang-dipped, dehydrated cabbage leaves don't hurt either.
The fun doesn't stop there. Next up: duck croquettes. Two fat panko-crumbed cubes of shredded Peking duck braised with garlic shoots, shredded carrots, hoisin and five spice sit atop al dente broccolini spears and lightly grilled sugar-snap peas – it's a dish that wouldn't look out of place on an inner-city bar menu.
Then there are the sides. You want fat pucks of chorizo, the pork sausage made with barley and oats, sweet potato waffle chips or deep-fried, five spice-coated haloumi sticks with house-made barbecue sauce? Thought so.
If you're looking for a sweet spot, check out the matcha waffle. It's more MasterChef dessert challenge than cafe fare: a cooked-to-order, luminous green waffle topped with molten dark chocolate, lemon cheesecake-filled truffle balls, "space soil" (more matcha, this time in crumble form) and an occasional tickle of pop rocks.
I could go on, but there are only so many column inches. The coffee offering really holds its own: Light Years is owned by Melissa Chen and David Wang of Windsor cafe Journeyman (previously Dukes Coffee Roasters) so it makes sense that they're running Dukes' beans here too.
Milky espresso arrives perfectly balanced; batch brew (via Moccamaster) is served in a ceramic cup (and not a ridiculous wine glass, which seems to be the fashion these days). However, it prompts my only complaint: for $4 you get about 200 millilitres I'm starting a petition for refills.
In an era when most of Melbourne's power cafes look identical, there's a subtle space theme going on (although the name comes from a Shakespeare quote, not Toy Story): Jetsons-esque powder-grey stools and tilted, saturn-inspired light fittings give the large concrete room a lift and there's plenty of seating subdivided by a waist-high partition of indoor plants.
You won't find any bargains (on average, $60 for two) but every dish is a mic-drop moment – come hungry, and hang the expense.
Pro Tip: Bring everyone, order everything, never leave.
Go-to Dish: Pixel avocado on sourdough toast, poached egg, edamame hummus, pickled radish and nori, $18.