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Monday, 30 December 2013

Lemon, Middle and Orange

(As seen in GRAM magazine)

Now officially THE CLOSEST cafe to my house, I am delighted to announce that new Collingwood addition, Lemon, Middle and Orange (25-31 Rokeby Street, Collingwood) does a decent dose of caffeine. 

Secondarily, it is a few doors from my local watering hole, the Prince Patrick Hotel (135 Victoria Parade, Collingwood) -- so now I can trot directly from brunch to the pub. Score! 

Kidding. (Sort of.) Of course LM&O (or "the citrus place", as my housemate and I have taken to calling it) has benefits other than its proximity to the pub. 

For instance: the decor. Originally an old paint factory, LM&O's premises were dolled up by upstairs neighbours John Wardle Architects, next-door neighbours Spacecraft Studio, and branding-crew-to-the-hip-and-delicious, Projects of Imagination. It's all pared-back blank surfaces of concrete, stainless steel, brick and loads of timber joinery -- with touches of yellow and bright orange, naturally. (Incidentally, the cafe's name refers to chrome pigments found on a sign during renovations. Good, cos otherwise I couldn't figure out the 'middle' bit at all.) 

Paint and Colour Merchants sign from which the cafe gets its name.

It's plopped halfway down the unassuming Rokeby Street (hey, there's a 'middle' link!) in the southern end of Collingwood, and unless you walked directly past, you would never have known it was there. In recent weeks, a wee sign has been added near the door, to flag the cafe's existence.

Industrial lookout from an industrial-style cafe

A long, thin space, the brightest bits of the cafe are the inviting open area at the front, complete with coffee window, and the communal table hidden right at the back. The middle section is a bit dimmer (i.e. better for hangovers...) and houses a bunch of smaller tables, a narrow wall-mounted bench, and the main serving counter, behind which runs the kitchen. It's all very warm and industrial-sexy, but I must say, I find the orange-topped paint-can stools very uncomfortable, so I tend to avoid the communal table and wall benches and sit my toosh on a larger, if more conventional, wooden chair whenever possible. I do enjoy the funky bird logo - though I'm not entirely sure what kind of bird it's meant to be (there's a twig in its beak, so perhaps a dove??). 

Communal table at the back... now sans uncomfy stools!

On its opening weekend, Lemon, Middle and Orange was abuzz with anticipation, and managed to pull through smoothly with few obvious teething problems. This may well be due to the combined expertise of owner-operators Margaret Lawless and Liam Ganley, former Auction Rooms chef Sam Morris, and a smiley barista who clearly knows what he's doing on the custom yellow Marzocco. Coffee is by Espresso Syndicate with rotating seasonal single origins from Clark St Roasters, and teas come from Storm in a Teacup. An interesting drink option is one of the flavoured hot chocolates from Grounded Pleasures: African Red, Orange Infused, or French Mint. Well, okay... if you insist. 



The food is fancy without being wanky, with locally-sourced ingredients, surprising flavour combinations, and a pleasing ability to fill your belly. For example, I've had the coconut and vanilla rice pudding, baked stuffed apple, lemon syrup, anise toffee twice now, and twice been tantalised by the contrast of rich rice pudding, sweet toffee chunks, and astringent apple. 

Rice pudding with toffee and apple

On my first visit, I tried the smoked sweetcorn and quinoa porridge, confit mushrooms, soft egg and toasted crumbs - surprisingly light for a 'porridge', and the quinoa goes beautifully with the flavour of corn; on my second, poached duck egg, green beans, peas, pancetta, sourdough croutons.  

Sweetcorn & quinoa porridge with mushroom and egg

Poached egg = split. Mmmm, gooey eggy goodness.

My housemate is a fan of the croquette of the day and recently tried the egg and bacon breakfast roll - it seemed to hit the spot. Soda bread baked daily in-house is both a speciality and a nod to the owners' Irish heritage. 

Egg and bacon roll

On my most recent visit, I tried the house hot smoked plum cured Tasmanian salmon, potato latkes, poached eggs, fennel, horseradish creme fraiche. Just the right amount and not too heavy. I have found all dishes to be aesthetically pleasing, fresh and tasty. Next up, I'd like to try something containing black pudding.

Salmon, potato, fennel and eggs

Lemon infused yoghurt, puffed grains, earl grey poached fruit, pistachio

Poached duck egg, green beans, peas, pancetta, sourdough croutons

...and with duck egg cracked open :) 

Lemon, Middle and Orange is open seven days for breakfast and lunch, with a liquor licence application underway. Service to date has been efficient and polite. A pleasurable local experience! 

(better menu views are available on the cafe's website)

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