Dare to deviate from the bustling pavement cafes, uber-trendy boutiques and hip interior design shops of Brunswick Street and you will be rewarded with a charming slice of inner-city suburbia. Yes, there is a healthy smattering of Fitzroy’s trademark street art scene, but picket fence-lined, flower-strewn George Street is also home to an adorable brunch spot that is winning the hearts of neighbourhood foodies and coffee fiends from further afield.
Barely distinguishable from the surrounding houses, Min Lokal’s minimal decor manages to be both cosy and cool, treading a fine line between retro chic – note the old-school American Airlines clock and circa 1970s fondue set proudly displayed on one of the shelves – and kitsch – my deliciously tangy orange and chocolate muffin is served up in a glass pineapple dish. Grab a seat (sorry, Tibetan milking stool if you will) and take your place at one of the large wooden tables, on which sit vases filled with vibrant flowers and sugar in mini milk bottles. Think of it as a visit to your great aunt’s house, that is if your great aunt is the kind of quirky octogenarian that might keep pot plants in her bathtub. Add to that a light and airy backroom with a third communal table and an intimate courtyard for alfresco eating and you can understand why many punters settle in for the afternoon.
So what about the food? The menu is chalked up on a blackboard behind the coffee machine and shines with Spanish and North African flavours – morcilla, seafood paella, Moroccan chicken and date sausage with almond and currant couscous, while salads and sandwiches are peppered with simple, earthy ingredients – pumpkin, haloumi, pancetta and trout. Let’s not forget the deliciously rich rabbit ragu with Swiss brown mushroom and pearl barley. There is a heavy focus on breakfast and brunch dishes and, as you would expect from a place with a Swedish name, the Bircher muesli is excellent. But why be good when there is an utterly indulgent cinnamon brioche with cointreau-laced summer berries, mascarpone and blueberry coulis on offer, or a peppery Bloody Mary to wash down a plate of Min Lokal’s signature baked eggs? Serving Coffee Supreme (sourced from New Zealand, roasted in Abbotsford) the caffeine hit here is a real highlight; otherwise there are Phoenix Organics soft drinks and a selection of beers and wines.
This down-to-earth antidote to achingly cool Brunswick Street is open Tuesday to Friday 7:30am-4pm, Saturday and Sunday 8:30am-4pm
422 George Street, Fitzroy
Tel. (03) 9417 0333
And the cost? Reasonably priced food (breakfast starts at $7, lunch from $9) and drink (coffee $3.40 / beer $6 / wine $9), although portions could be a bit bigger. More toast please!