Opening hours:
Mon – Sun: 7am – 5pm

Coffee: St Ali

Mr LB:
“Being the eldest of two other siblings, I often copped the brunt of punishment dished out by my parents. Sure, I’ll admit there was times when I had taken the last cookie from the jar just before dinner or had terrible table manners. But I was young and impressionable, and pushing the boundaries seemed fun. At the time I felt this practice was quite unforgiving as my younger brother and sister enjoyed the advantages of the do’s and don’ts of childhood behaviour. Somehow though, I became their leader so that they may not only learn life skills but also learn how to have fun stuff. While they failed to pick up my sense of great brunching and coffee, I headed out to meet Miss SL at Ripponlea to try out the somewhat new cafe, Follow The Leader.

The sun was certainly out and it was hot on the day we arrived. Upon entering, I was drawn to the cool wallpaper that acted as a backdrop to the main dining hall of the cafe. It had blended nicely with the subtle furniture and general decor. We had the opportunity to dine either in the cool air of the main hall or outside on the patio under the umbrellas. Given Melbourne’s short spell of a real summer, we had decided to consume brunch within some lovely sunshine.

There always comes a time in ones life when you know the best thing to do is saying no. Sadly, on this occasion it was to my long beloved friend, long black [$3.50]. Given that we were dining in peak heat, Miss SL and I quickly agreed on a smoothie, Rejuvenate – orange, carrot, lemon sorbet, lime and ginger [glass $6, jug $15]. Crushed ice combined with the citrus flavours resulted in a definite thirst quencher.

Corn Fritter: smoked salmon, sour cream and salad of avocado, spring onion, chili, coriander

The menu at Follow the Leader had all of the usual suspects to keep any brunch-goer happy. I went for the safe option of Corn Fritters: smoked salmon, sour cream and salad of avocado, spring onion, chili, coriander [$16]. In terms of presentation, the corn fritters were nice and evenly shaped as they lay on a bed of salad. The corn fitters were fried to perfection providing the desired crunch with the batter not being to doughy. The sour cream and flavoured oil certainly completed the corn fritters and tying the dish together. It was a filling brunch that would satisfied most, but there was no outstanding flare.

Pistachio cupcake

We were both keen for brunch dessert, opting for the Pistachio cupcake [~$4]. The cupcake was a lovely combination of soft and nutty. The icing wasn’t too rich, which is big tick for me, and the sprinkle of the pistachio allowed the cupcake to fully explore its star flavour. It was the perfect sweet to end our brunch.

Follow the Leader is a great cafe if you don’t want to be hassled with brunch lines, long waiting periods for food and the too-cool-for-me-hipsters. It’s a great location for a no fuss and chilled brunch.”

Miss SL:
“It was a beautiful sunny day when we’d arrived in Ripponlea to try a cafe that had contacted us on twitter. When we walked into Follow The Leader the vibe screamed ‘local hangout’ – and I don’t mean this in an offensive way. What I mean is, it was incredibly relaxed and unpretentious.

We were quick to enter into the courtyard in the back of the cafe, passing the open kitchen on our way. As we entered, we were welcomed by hessian bags carrying herbs.

Stripey cushions lay against tall, wooden walls which doubled up as fencing, which were well-matched by the paint job. Something about the cafe reminded me of Orange in Windsor. As soon as we sat down, one of the first things I noticed on the menu was the ability to order smoothies by the jug! This seemed quite convenient as Mr LB and I are often very thirsty people on brunching days, so we ordered a Rejuvenate – orange, carrot, lemon sorbet, lime and ginger [glass $6, jug $15] by the jug.

Rejuvenate Smoothie

It was a bomby 30 degrees on the day that we were here and our smoothie went down a real treat! The carrot and orange combination was really beautifully balanced and the flavours of the lemon sorbet softened the harshness of the pulp.

It was time to order our mains and after much abstaining I finally gave into the cheesy goodness of the Croque-Monsieur – French grilled ham and cheese sandwich with double mustard aioli [$10]. I also noticed on the menu that there was some Grilled Haloumi: with honey fresh mint and dried cranberries [$5]. For such a cheap side, who could say no?!

Grilled Haloumi: with honey fresh mint and dried cranberries

Croque-Monsieur – French grilled ham and cheese sandwich with double mustard aioli

The grilled haloumi was thinly sliced and quite rubbery to eat. The honey made an immediate impression upon my palate and it took a bit of chewing before the saltiness of the grilled haloumi came through, breaking through the initial sweetness on the palate. Cranberries and haloumi are always a winning combination but the addition of the honey was just plain clever.

My croque-monsieur was delicious from the moment my teeth broke bread. The sourdough was crisp and the bottom of the sandwich was beautifully caramelised with melted cheese and butter.

Croque-Monsieur – French grilled ham and cheese sandwich with double mustard aioli

The ham was really lovely and fresh. The mustard aioli was something quite unique to this dish and was a beautiful addition. The mustard aioli was mild and creamy but still powerful enough to cut through the thick sourdough and ham.

Overall, Follow The Leader was a nice experience. What it lacked in fancy decor, it gave back in fast service and nice meals. It is great for catching up with family and friends who are in the area.”

Final thought: “Refreshing smoothies by the jug”

Follow the Leader Cafe on Urbanspoon

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