There’s always a time when you visit a place and it makes you realise you need to push most of those 5 star reviews down to a 4.5. Lorna was that place for me. Modern crisp interiors, amazingly friendly staff and some fabulous food, it makes you rethink everything you expect a suburban cafe to be.
I always have this unwritten rule that I judge cafes in the outer suburbs by a slightly different set of standards to those in the CBD and closely surrounding areas, but Lorna dispels the myth that if you live more than 15km from the city you should be happy with average food. It has got to be one of my top picks of this year.
What is there to love so much about a suburban cafe on a main road I hear you cry? Well, let’s start with its story. Named after the owner’s grandmother, Lorna, almost all of the menu items are based on her recipes, or the owner’s partners Mexican family traditions. What this leads to is a creative, varied menu – with no poached pears or pannacottas in sight – and some seriously amazing food.
Cooking the food you grew up with for me is always a great start to any restaurant or cafe. Not only is it coming from a place of love, it’s food you enjoyed and you know why you enjoyed it. It doesn’t need to be clever, or the next big thing, it’s been feeding a family for generations. Coming from a family of great cooks, I remember the first time my mum asked me for recipe advice and what a huge moment that was. It’s like the ultimate seal of approval. I can’t even imagine the pressure of opening a place serving her recipes, but I know for sure I’d be careful not to do anything, ever, to mess that up – and Lorna certainly do their namesake equally as proud.
We ordered three dishes: porridge, tumeric eggs and crumpets with lemon curd. The tumeric eggs, with potatoes and chorizo were just fabulous and transport you back to Spain in just one mouthful. The flavours are rich, but they aren’t your traditional chilli scramble. This dish has far more depth and is more substantial than any similar dish I’ve tried. It was one of those dishes you regret sharing the instant you take the first bite.
The porridge was such a surprisingly modern, fresh dish. It tastes like how you wish those expensive packets you buy from Woolworths, with the Superfoods and Chai Seeds would taste but no matter what you do they never do. However, at only $13, its probably not that much more expensive anyway. It has so much texture and such a rich berry flavour it was soul warming but light at the same time. Not what you imagine your grandma’s porridge to be like! The crumpets are truly homemade. Filling and enjoyable, with enough touches of fruit to make it both look and taste interesting, without overloading on the sweetness. M.B. is a huge lemon curd fan anyway, and he thought it worked so well with these crumpets.
As well as breakfast, they offer light bites, cakes and mains too. It’s a small menu, but there’s definitely an emphasis on quality. The staff are pleasant and friendly. It’s clear they enjoy being there and they work quickly to accommodate new customers and regularly keep a check on all guests. Josh, the owner, is a pivotal figure in the cafe, and his willingness to work hard and his bright, open nature clearly radiates and inspires the whole team.
By far the biggest travesty about this cafe is the amount of people who visit to only order coffees! Are you serious? You have got some of the best food in Melbourne right on your doorstep, start eating it!! For those of us coming from afar, the best thing about this cafe is it’s on the way to the 1000 steps and all the amazing hikes in the Dandenong Ranges, so you can eat what you like and then walk off those calories afterwards!
Thanks for having us Lorna!