93 Moor St Fitzroy, VIC 3065
|Opening hours||Mon-Fri 7am-4pm; Sat-Sun 8am-4pm|
|Features||Vegetarian friendly, Family friendly|
|Prices||Cheap (mains under $20)|
The latest addition to the Fitzroy cafe scene, Louis is hiding in plain sight in its prime off-Brunswick Street location. Owners Anoop Lokkur and Avtar Singh have accepted the inevitability of being overshadowed by the shiny Airstream van of next-door neighbour Grub Street, and opted for the mystery of the minimal signage route. Don't be fooled by the subtle optics: this is a serious cafe contender with a disarming friendliness quotient.
There's barely anything about Louis that says "cafe" from the outside (at least while the doors are closed against a cold day) but take a gander inside for the cafe equivalent of the Tardis. Yes, this white brick warehouse is one generous space, meaning tables are far enough apart to satisfy anyone bent on espionage while also giving parents and bigger groups room to breathe. The back of the cafe opens onto Brunswick Street's fancy stationer Zetta Florence, which makes Louis the answer to all those times you longed to combine brunch with the purchase of deckle-edged writing paper.
Those who think Melbourne cafe menus have reached a comfortable homeostasis will be pleased to see Louis has something new to add to the predictable retinue of smashed avo, granola and superfood salads. A Korean-accented fried chicken burger on a milk bun does good things with a tingly gochugaru mayo the colour of a 1970s kitchen plus a rustling bunch of house-made potato crisps. A riff on fluffy Japanese dorayaki pancakes subs in banana coconut cream and toasted flakes – plus a vegan pistachio gelato made by Spring Street's Gelataria Primavera can be ordered as an add-on. The Benny gives more piquant punch – poached eggs and pulled pork colluding over super-crisp potato croquettes and the bite of pickled cabbage to reach a place of excessive, hangover-busting comfort.
Beans from city roastery Vacation and with milk from St David Dairy combine to make a latte that is almondy and smooth, while filter options rotate through guest roasteries (if you've ever wanted to try beans from Denmark or Norway, here's your chance).
There's additional excitement in the non-caffeinated range: the nutty, earthy-sweet caramel notes of the dulce de latte make it a standout winner with oceans more staying power than any unicorn latte. Also see: kashaya latte, a multi-spiced concoction with purported medicinal properties that harks back to the owners' Indian heritage.
Avo index Smashable – on sourdough toast with pickled onions, macadamia feta, cherry tomatoes, preserved lemon and dukkah. $15.50, with the option of adding poached eggs or smoked salmon.
Loving Dulce de latte, the exciting new kid on the hot drink block.
Not getting Newspapers (the lack thereof). Digital age be damned – any self-respecting cafe needs 'em.
Overheard "There's a shop back here!"
Caffe latte $4
Score One cup
Food 7/10; Coffee 4/5; X factor 3/5