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Published February 21st 2015
Winning the Café Trifecta – Great food, service & value
Sweet Treats from just $1.50 at Citrus Tart
Sure the quality of the food is paramount, but increasingly important to me is the service. It has to be good as well and if it's personal and responsive, then I'll always go back. When I was a teenager, I would just melt into the woodwork at the thought of my mum conversing with anyone just in case I got any attention. I'd rather eat a cockroach in my burger than make a fuss.
Nowadays it's all about personal connections. I like a bit of a chat to the waitress and owner. And then there's the $ value. All of the listed cafes serve meals with a drink for under $10.
The cafes on this list have the winning trifecta. They have great food, great service and are great value. You can't get much better than that.
Run by the loveliest couple around, the Brown Bear café has surprisingly cheap homemade food. Leo and Feng have a passion and talent for creating great food and adding a personal touch. When I first met them, they made me feel like I was a long lost friend.
Irrestible French toast with fresh fruit
Leo's creativity has resulted in a unique east meets west style menu. You can have brekky from just $4.50 for toasted sourdough or oatmeal porridge with almonds, mixed berries and cream or skinny milk for $7.90. They serve sandwiches ($9) and large amazing homemade hamburgers (only $8).
In addition they donate all of their tips to the Free the Bear campaign.
You won't be disappointed if you stop at the Brown Bear café. Make sure you sample their coffee made by the ever-smiling Ronny the barista. It's a premium blend designed to be sweet, heavy and rich. It's high end, specialty Five Senses coffee that's been lightly roasted.
The Divine At Ya Yas 50 Aberdeen Road Macleod
This is an intimate little café with only five tables inside and one outside. They have another main attraction, which is the lovely gift shop. Mother (Gabby) and daughter (Rebecca) team knows most of their customers by name. They are warm and grateful for their lot in the world. They are all ears when you ask a question and ready to chat about the history of the café (teahouse and therapies centre). They have a diffuser burning oils in the corner to create a welcoming and calm environment.
Ya Ya's have simple but tasty fare that includes wraps, toasties, pastries, frittata ($10 for large serve) and other tasty homemade treats. Gourmet pies are only about $6 and take away is also available.
You can't say no!
They serve (Atomica) Award winning coffee bean (2013). The Divine at YaYas is the only Melbourne café that sells Xango (a mangosteen juice from the U.S.) that is apparently the solution to multiple health problems. Everyone is welcome to come in and ask for a free sample of the juice.
Citrus Tart 2D Lambourn Rd, Watsonia
This is another mother (Gwen) and daughter (Kirsty) team who run a busy café with a very extensive menu. For a main meal, dessert and a drink I only paid $16. Toasted sandwiches are from $7, sandwiches and rolls from $6.50 and $1.50 extra for focaccia. The menu says 'It's okay to create your own combinations' so you can be as idiocentric as you like.
Famous for their tart, they have more sweet and savoury options than a $2 shop! The vanilla slice is decadent but if you want something with fewer calories they have little sweet treats from only $1.50.
Gwen makes a lot of the food but she is always up for a chat and smiles broadly as if she doesn't have a worry in the world. For many reasons, the Citrus Tart has a lot of regulars so, to be safe not sorry, it's a good idea to book ahead.