It was a glorious spring day in sunny Queensland, so, on Sunday morning, we headed off to New Farm for brunch. We were greeted at the door by friendly staff and given the choice of sitting inside or outdoors in the courtyard. Unusually for us, we sat inside as I wanted to watch the interaction between the staff and the customers. I have to report that all the staff members were smiley and helpful and looked like they enjoyed working there.
Owner Nick Hugo-Hamman told me he bought Little Loco exactly one year ago. His focus is on quality ingredients cooked perfectly, and on customer service. Staff training and culture are his point of difference and he relies on return business. It certainly showed in the happy faces of the staff and the mixed clientele.
The menu is seasonal and changes every couple of months. You can view the current menu online. They also have monthly specials to mix things up. Some of the recent examples are pumpkin soup, brisket burger and Loco nachos. I chose one of the monthly specials on offer and I was not sorry.
I had the red velvet pancakes which consisted of a stack of red pancakes, fresh fruit (strawberries, banana and kiwifruit so it must be a healthy option), berry compote, white choc sauce, white chocolate Tim Tams, vanilla ice cream topped off with a mint garnish. Decadent I know. It was beautifully presented, visually stunning and photogenic. As the Japanese say, you taste with your eyes before you eat with your mouth. When the waitress brought out the pancakes she asked if we were going to share. The serving of three pancakes and fruit was certainly large enough to share but I said, "No way!" The other customers laughed at me but I'm sure that they understood that it was far too good to split (even with the love of my life). Textures, colours, taste were all sublime. The red pancakes were thin how I like them, and I could taste a hint of cacao. It was so good – plate licking good!
My brunch date opted for Eggs and Waffle Benedict ($18.50) with streaky bacon on the side ($4.50). His measure of any cafe is how well they make Hollandaise sauce - he doesn't like it too vinegary. He said the texture of the chipotle Hollandaise was good. The savoury waffles were infused with cheese and ham. They were tasty and I liked the innovative approach of a savoury waffle rather than say, Turkish bread. With two poached eggs neatly perched on top of them, it was a generous portion and made for a very satisfying brekky. I remember when I first heard of eggs Benedict in the States, I thought that they added Benedictine, the herbal liqueur from France, to the sauce. (I actually still think that is a really good idea...)
The "Naughty Shakes" are naughty but nice. The cheeky Oreo Shake ($8.50) in a mason jar consisted of good quality icecream Oreo biscuits and milk. Brings a whole new dimension to the "cookies and milk" snack. They also have Super Shakes and Cold Pressed Juices available.
The Single O Killer Bee Blend Coffee ($4.30 for a large) was just how I like it – with excellent Heirloom chocolate grated on top (and I know good chocolate when I taste it). Their hot chocolate is made from Heirloom choc as well. Nick told me he buys high-quality boutique products where possible.
Prices range from $8 for the sourdough spread (for example) to $18.50 for Huevos Rancheros. The most popular All-Day Breakfast item is Mushrooms roasted in garlic oil and thyme. The mushies come with two poached eggs on rye bread. The addition of pesto, feta, kale, hummus and dukkha make this dish a perfect vegetarian option. If you fancy it, you can also add a side of halloumi ($4.50). For lunch, the Loco Club Sandwich ($18.50) is very popular. It looked huge with chicken, bacon, avo, lettuce, cheese and mayo on thick-cut Italian bead.
Little Loco caters for vegetarians and vegans, as well as omnivores. Vegetarian options include the ubiquitous smashed avocado on sourdough ($17), fruit loaf, ($8.50) and a 'shroom and halloumi burger ($16.50). Vegans may like the Chia Pudding ($16) which is also Dairy Free. You can order gluten-free bread, plus the Bircher ($16) and Green Bowl ($17) are both Gluten Free.
It was a VERY pleasant way to spend a balmy morning. The food was great, the people lovely and the grey and white decor was very calming (think trailing plants and retro macramé hangings). I have already chosen what I am going to eat when I next visit: the Pavlova Waffles ($18.50) made from Belgian Waffles, with lemon curd, meringue dust, berry compote, strawbs, creme Anglaise and vanilla mascarpone. Mmmm.