Overcast and raining, typical Melbourne winter weather. Never mind, I’ll just head down to Little Collins St. for a cup of the good stuff and at least there’ll be sunshine on my tongue. Lord knows, I need a little caffeine defibrillation to clear my groggy head and bleary eyes. Still half asleep, I stumble into my local. Strange, the café seems a little busier than usual and what’s with all the New York accents? Probably just another convention in town, I suppose. Dragging my feet to the counter, I know the familiar face of my beloved barista will promise me the much needed antidote to this jetlag coma. Jetlag… That’s right… We’re not in Melbourne anymore Toto!
Nope, these are the, every man for himself, get out of the way, I’m coming through, streets of New York and I’ve just been lucky enough to find a little piece of Aussie, or more specifically, Melbourne coffee culture to save this weary, decaffeinated traveller.
For the homesick Aussie, stepping into Little Collins Café brings some much needed Down Under coffee healing to soothe the wounds inflicted by a brown “coffee-like” liquid sold in gallon cups by US chain cafes.
Little Collins Café not only serves up coffee of a quality that is hard to match elsewhere in New York, but also pairs the liquid delights with outstanding Aussie café culture inspired dishes. This one-two punch of great food and top notch coffee all happens in a clean, bright, retro-chic, and cosy space that buzzes with locals lining up for a piece of the superior Melbourne-esque café action.
Ok, let’s get to the pointy end of this review, the coffee. Kicking off with the Pour Over and bucking the Ethiopian band wagon, my shotgun reviewer and fellow Coco & Viner Sonia, opts for the Ecuadorian brew which evokes a smile from the skilled barista.
The single origin Ecuadorian Pour Over delivers a chocolatey, nutty, and creamy experience that departs the palate smoothly with no bitterness in its wake. The selection of this coffee for use in the Pour Over is perfect and the Little Collins Café masterminds should be complemented for their inspired coffee curation.
Resisting the urge to be uber cliché and order up a Flat White, we test our new barista friend with a Cappuccino. Will it be smooth? Will the froth be silky? Will it taste a little like home? Yes, Yes, and Yes! This “cap” quickly transports us back to those crisp Melbourne winter days spent sipping and nibbling in a cosy café along the Melbourne street from which Little Collins Café draws its name. The coffee is a Bolivian and Columbian blend brought to life by a roast that expertly comingles the beanie brothers and settles the brew into a subtly smooth, creamily calming cup.
Can you open a café in Oz without Smashed Avo on the menu? Last time I checked, the development permit clearly stated in subsection 32a, paragraph 4, that Smashed Avo must be made available to all patrons during hours of operation. Thank goodness Little Collins Café is in compliance! Their “The Smash” is “The Bomb”. Creamy avocado and tangy feta atop a crusty slice of multi-grain bread sprinkled with pepitas, chilly flake and mint. Simple? Yes. Good? So good! I love how the little diversion of chilly and mint can bring interest to the palate and further enliven an already scrumptious plate.
Sweet Uncle Fred was always so nice to me. He’d lift me up when I was down and make me laugh to clear my frown. It’s so nice to know that I’ll always have my Sweet Uncle Fred, as now he’s on the menu at Little Collins Café. Just like my uncle, Little Collins’ Sweet Uncle Fred will lift you up with its bounty of berries and bold hues of reds and blues. This banana bread based beauty has taken the humble slice to a level that all us “Nana Bread Nuts” knew it deserved. Slathered in rich ricotta, drizzled with honey, and dappled with roasted almonds, the textures and tastes of the toppings ignite the nutmeg and cinnamon notes of the bread. Warm, and moist, with a chewy ring of crust, let’s hope that Sweet Uncle Fred always has a home at Little Collins Café.
If you’ve made it this far in my little recollection of an outstanding sliver of Australiana in the heart of the Big Apple, then you’ll surely see why a visit to Little Collins Café is worth your next step out the door and toward this loveliness on LEX.