A Melbourne based writer who is a travel junkie, dedicated foodie and emerging photographer.
Published April 13th 2014
Not Quite a Shining Light - Yet
Lights in the Attic Cafe is a newcomer to Hawthorn East, having been open for just four weeks. It's probably not fair to review a cafe when it's still so new, as there will almost inevitably still be some teething problems to sort out at that stage. And so it was with Lights in the Attic. Having said that, there are many things to commend about this place. I look forward to a return visit, and hope that, with a little time, this will become a great place for a casual brunch, lunch or coffee.
First of all, there's the location. It's very nicely situated midway between the Camberwell Junction and Auburn Road cafes, and it will be a boon for office workers and residents in the area. It's tucked away on the ground floor corner space of a new residential building near where Camberwell Road intersects with Auburn Grove. At the moment the signage seems a bit minimal, so it's easy to miss.
Inside Lights in the Attic
Then, there's the name - which I love! It's so evocative. A beacon in the dark, a lighthouse; something a little mysterious. But actually, Lights in the Attic is not at all dark and gloomy. It's a bright space, with lots of natural light streaming in. While the look could be described as industrial chic, it has a warm feel and is inviting. I think the owners have made great use of a rather difficult shaped (more or less triangular) space.
A modern, almost industrial feel to the decor
We visited for a late Saturday morning brunch. It was pretty busy, and we showed ourselves to a table, and, although we were sitting right near the main counter, got ignored for quite some time. We eventually helped ourselves to menus. After some time again, our waitress came to take orders. We put in coffee/tea orders - but the beverages never actually arrived. We had to re-order them after our food arrived.
My partner Dave, wanting a light meal, chose scrambled eggs with smoked trout, no toast. Actually, the menu is well constructed in that you can choose what you like from categories of options, so it was no problem just to choose two components. For example, you can choose bread/toast ($5), add an egg dish (poached, fried, scrambled, scrambled egg white) ($5), a meat option (bacon, ham, trout, Kransky) ($5) and/or a vegetable option (tomato, spinach, mushroom etc) ($4).
Dave's order of eggs and trout
Those who regularly read my reviews will know that I don't really like eggs - which is a bit limiting when one eats brunch out. I opted for a fresh ricotta and wood smoked ham croissant with fennel and rocket salad ($12). After initially having my order accepted, I was advised about five minutes later that the dish I'd selected was not available. A bit annoying to say the least. I asked the waitress for suggestions, explaining my ambivalence for eggs, and on her recommendation, I selected the muesli (Brookfarm toasted muesli with natural yoghurt) ($11).
When it arrived, the muesli was a work of art! Surely the most beautiful presentation of muesli I've ever seen! Who's ever had muesli with rose petals before? And, served with the freshest, plumpest berries, strips of what I think was raspberry 'leather', and a squeeze tube of honey, I couldn't wait to dig in. It really was lovely. In the end, I was pleased I hadn't had the croissant.
The muesli was a work of art!
Dave was happy with his dish, too. He was also impressed with his chamomile tea, which was elegantly served in a teapot; honey was provided in a little beaker that looked like it was straight out of a science lab.
A generous pot of chamomile tea
In summary, the food and atmosphere of Lights in the Attic were good enough that I'll go back and try it again. I just hope they can sort out the services glitches.