Did you know that the word 'Lua' (pronounced loo-ah) means 'Moon' in Portuguese? Well, neither did I, until I looked it up that is. But the eccentric name of this cafe aside, I was also intrigued by how it sits confidently on the quieter corner of Elgin and Drummond St in Carlton, with bright green awnings and colorful chairs outside that seem to beckon you over to come sit down and have a coffee. And that was precisely what I did.
The interior of the café is refreshing and bright, with a quirky hint of personalization with Polaroid photos tacked up on the wall behind the service counter. The tables are well spread out, with ample room to move; the big bay-like windows surrounding the café also allow you to take in the adjacent views while sipping on a cup of hot coffee or enjoying a nice breakfast. Regardless of whether you're popping by for a quiet brunch without the crowds, or if you're accompanied by a cohort of family and friends and the place is packed, the atmosphere at café Lua is one that is always welcoming and friendly.
The question on everyone's mind when visiting a new brunch place is usually 'what's the menu like'? or 'do they serve decent coffee'? Well, the answers to those questions are 'great' and 'yes they do'. The menu has an eclectic variety of traditional delights, which include signature dishes such as the Huevos Rancheros, which is chipotle and feta scrambled eggs on home-made corn tortilla with spicy chorizo, tomato and coriander salsa with dressed rocket (wow, that was a mouthful, literally), as well as pumpkin and chia seed pancakes topped with yoghurt, lentil and spinach salad. There are plenty of gluten-free choices as well, which caters to the needs of a more niche group of customers. Whichever option you go for on the menu, it is unlikely that you will be disappointed.
how can you not love a coffee that comes with a marshmallow?
Perhaps what I found most unique about this place was how it displayed their support for local contemporary artists, as well as celebrates the creativity of art in general. All artists can submit their work of art to the café, which will then be displayed on a big flat screen television during business hours. As of 2012, café Lua has also taken a step further by allowing selected artists to creatively use their walls and windows for monthly art shows curated by Frankie Pan. Read more about it here.