Lolo & Wren
Lolo and Wren were making themselves well known in cyberspace well before their first bit of toast popped out of the toaster. About 3 months beforehand, they launched an excellent twitter and facebook campaign. They intrigued many of us with their stories: The evolving conversion from empty shop shell to gorgeous café, their partnership with 5 senses coffee, and enthusiastically saying how much they couldn’t wait to cook for us all!!! This was all very evocative… it set me up with an enduring sense of expectation…. So when they finally opened just before Christmas I was all primed….
Alas – because my life doesn’t take me past West Brunswick all too often (try never) – it’s taken me yet another three months to get to them!! A recent long weekend whispered to me… why not take a ride out to West Brunswick…
So out I toddled on the Moonee Ponds bike track, via a slight detour on Albion Road… and I finally found myself, riddled with much anticipation, at Lolo and Wren.
The café is actually situated beneath a rather new apartment development – and despite the potential for it to be a clinical concrete box – owners Franco and Karen have done a brilliant job of creating ambience and warmth. My photos would never do the place justice – but this Broadsheet article by Amy Collins and brilliant photos by Kristoffer Paulsen, show the gorgeous fit-out, and the decorating and little touches that make it so lovely.
The five senses coffee was brilliant – and for the first time I was asked if I wanted it really “flat” – you know, without all the foam!! Hallelujah!! A café who realises that a flat white (once-upon-a-time) meant no foam!! And the coffee is brilliant – really gorgeous almost hint of chocolatey nuttiness. It was delicious!!
Strawberry and buttermilk pancakes with rhubarb and blueberry compote,
mascarpone, almond praline, and pure maple syrup
And now to the pancakes… there is a LOT going on here. First the pancake itself… the centre is quite rich and fluffy – but the outside… well… the best way I thought to describe it was like a Mrs Fields crust. It was almost like a just out-of-the-oven, about to go crunchy, cookie exterior. Now there’s only one way to achieve this… and that’s with lashings of butter. Ooooh… I can hear Michelle Bridges already!!
So… it’s a pretty serious pancake by itself. Now – ADD to that… as the pancakes been cooking, they’ve added some sliced strawberries. Then they’ve topped it with rhubarb and berry compote, almond praline, a good dollop of mascarpone and then some Canadian maple syrup. Wow!!
For some people, this will sound like dining nirvana – for me, however, I found there were too many levels of sweetness with the buttery crust, the syrup, the berries, the praline… just a bit too much going on.
Overall, however, Lolo and Wren is a brilliant little hangout that I’m sure has become a real neighbourhood favourite. The coffee is brilliant, and the rest of the menu items were intriguing. If you’re in the area, it’s certainly worth checking out. But if you’re ordering the pancakes – prepare yourself for a walloping of flavour and sweetness!! If that’s what floats your boat…
All I can say is – I’m glad I cycled 40km before eating it…
The final verdict: A good café with great ambience and good coffee – not what I’d call a “destination” café, but a good neighbourhood gem.