Brunch out south of the Yarra
It is the first day of winter and I decide to go to the beach in protest. It is raining and it is windy, but don’t let anyone tell you that this is not a good beach day. These are the best days to explore the bay in all its glory. The dramatic dark colours, unsettled waters and the quiet surroundings are a perfect setting for a Sunday morning stroll or jog. One of my favourite stretches for a beach walk (rain or shine) is the one stretching from the end of North Road in Brighton all the way to the St Kilda Sea Baths. It is really quite common for southsiders to meet here and mingle and you can say it is the south side’s answer to the Tan (out of towners- this is the running track around the botanical gardens, near Melbourne CBD).
The Little Ox lies on a quiet corner on New Street, a mere two blocks from the beach. It is a perfect way to end a long walk or run. Don’t let the surrounding Brighton mansions fool you there is nothing pretentious about this place. It is young, fresh and very relaxed; it reminds me of hot summers, school holidays, ice creams and running around sprinklers.
The owners of The Little Ox are no newbies to the food industry. They are also behind Hawk & Hunter Small Batch in Ripponlea (stay tuned for my review) and the Tommy Collins catering company. The menu is exciting with seasonal daily specials. My Co bruncher and I deliberate for a while and eventually decide to try the Grilled Spanish Chorizo, Black Bean Puree , Avocado & Tomato Salsa, Poached Egg and a Turkish bread from the daily specials page and the Winter Mushroom Bruschetta with Chimmichurri , goat curd, rye toast and poached egg. To those of you playing at home,Chimmichurri is a green Argentinian sauce usually made of parsley, garlic, vinegar, olive oil and oregano (somewhat similar to pesto).
The Grilled Spanish Chorizo, Black Bean Pure, Avocado & Tomato Salsa is what I imagine breakfast in Mexico to be like. The dish is a flavour explosion in every mouthful. While this has the potential to be an heavy oily meal, the chorizo is not oily and balanced well against the avocado, salsa and the uncommon black bean puree. The Winter Mushroom Bruschetta does not disappoint with rich earthy mushroom flavours. Coffee is by Red Star and is a crowd pleaser.
The staff is young, friendly and attentive. The clientele are mostly locals (the good looking kind!), and while we are in the midst of Brighton (excuse the stigma!) there is no snotty attitude here, just lovers of decent food and coffee. There are a number of tables outside to accommodate your four legged friend or larger prams. The place is usually buzzing in summer, so I recommend taking advantage of the winter months to avoid long waits.
Food: 8 out of 10
Staff: 8 out of 10
Atmosphere: 8.5 out 10
Best for: a beach break, lunch with mum, a taste of holidays.