452 New St
Mon – Sun: 6:30am – 5:00pm
Coffee: Red Star
“In the vicinity of Hampton/Brighton you would not expect to find a farm of any description. Rather, it’s an area full of green grass, developed houses and the only animals in sight are dogs and cats (although we recently found a house with sheep and chickens in the neighboring suburb of Elwood!). You would not find an ox roaming the streets, but there is a cafe which definitely pulls and kicks like an ox – The Little Ox.
The Little Ox is run by a couple of young blokes who sure know how to deliver. Situated as a corner shop on New Street between suburban housing and a mechanics work shop, it is hard to miss. The cafe is uniquely long with some cooking related decor and ample natural light, which contrasts well with their softly coloured furniture. Having visited on a cloudy and wet day doesn’t give it justice but I’m sure that a revisit will be an order in the summer.
Coffee selection is critical to any cafe. Given Melbourne is becoming very coffee focused, the people of The Little Ox have decided to source from another young, enthusiastic, self-confessed coffee geeks- Red Star. Doing a little research, they are keen coffee goers who only roasted sustainable coffee, using high quality equipment to produce high quality coffee. The end result to my long black [$3.5] was certainly a unique taste with a strong sweet flavour when you first taste and with a surprisingly tangy aftertaste. There was certainly a unique flavour to this coffee, but it was missing that crisp/fresh finish that most other reputable coffee roasters have achieved. It certainly was a good coffee and I look forward to Red Star creations in the future.
The menu at The Little Ox is something special. There are a number of brunch selections to choose from with diversity and creativity being the main theme. This makes selecting one dish a difficult decision on a Sunday morning. When it came to crunch time, I had elected the Grilled leg ham with corn fritters, tomato relish & avocado mash [$16] add a poached egg[$3].
The fritters and the poached egg was a goer for me. The plating of the dish seemed at first glance a little unorganised with the leg of ham sprawled over the plate. Apart from presentation the taste of this dish was sensational. The corn fritters were lightly deep-fried to give a slight crunchy taste but still retaining a fluffy texture. The leg of ham was an interesting substitute to the normal practice of having bacon and was the real star to the dish. The ham had a defined smoky taste which highlighted the corn fritters flavours. The tomato relish and the avocado mash highlighted the grilled ham to mask the dry taste and gave the dish further flavours to explore.
What really impressed me with this dish, was that they had taken the traditional corn fritter concept and made it better. The dish had explored the possibilities of using different ingredient to make the dish unique and putting the excitement back to the brunch goer.
The Little Ox has got something going for them. Whether it being their enthusiasm to break the norm of brunch dishes, unique coffee or its huge selection of brunch deserts as you enter. This is definitely a new experience for a brunch goer who likes to taste a different version of their favourite dishes.”
“Twitter is a wonderful tool, and one of our followers @jaimecml suggested a while ago that we check out a little brunch haven known as The Little Ox. We arrived to find a queue already in progress, despite our attempts to miss the 11am brunch crowd. We weren’t far behind in the line though, and within 10 minutes we were seated. I could not take my eyes off the massive fridge full of delicious looking brunch-desserts. It was full of colour, cakes and all sorts of scrumptious things.
I’d decided on ordering the Grilled polenta, pork & pistachio sausage, poached egg & pear relish [$17]. I was mostly just intrigued by the thought of eating pork & pistachio sausages, which were obviously handmade either at the cafe in the morning or by their butcher. The coffee here was by Red Star, which I’d never tried before. My soy latte came out and was a little bitter / burnt in flavour. I was not sure if this was just the natural flavour of the bean, or if this was just my milk being overheated. I decided that it was the latter, after the tasting the sweetness of Mr LBs long black.
My meal came out and it was beautifully plated. The polenta had a gorgeous golden-brown skin and the sausages didn’t look like sausages at all. They were diagonally sliced and very thick. The pistachio’s made it look extremely appetising.
First off, was the polenta. Slightly crisp on the top, it was soft and fluffy on the inside. A light combination of spices gave the polenta an exciting flavour. The poached pear relish was mixed with some spices (not hot) and mustard seeds, giving it both a sweet and savoury flavour. The sausages were just simply magnificent and nothing like what I’d had before. They were packed with flavour, and the pistachios just lifted the meat to a new level. There seemed to be some fennel mixed into the meat, as there was a slight aniseed / licorice flavour running in the backdrop of this dish.
I had a taste of Mr LBs dish and I have to say it was equally as gorgeous. His corn fritters had a slightly smokey aftertaste and the use of ham instead of bacon was very clever. Despite being cooked quite crisply, the ham was so soft and just melted in my mouth.
We couldn’t go passed a bit of dessert and Mr LB made the apt choice of Rhubarb Crumble [$5]. The dish came out and it was warm, served with cream. The crumble was a delicious combination of muesli and cinnamon, the rhubarb was deliciously soft and sweet. Despite its small size, sharing this dish was just perfect. On its own, it might have been too much for me.
Overall, The Little Ox was surprisingly original. They took other dishes which many top-end cafes offer and provided a unique twist, lightly sprinkled with middle-eastern influences. This Little Ox should definitely be your next mark for a good brunch.
Final Thought: “Unique spin on the common brunch menu”