25-31 Rokeby Street
Mon – Fri: 7.30am – 3:30pm
Sat: 8am – 3pm
Sun: 9am – 3pm
“Wedged comfortably between industrial warehouses, an architecture firm above and adjacent to an auto shop is a cafe called Lemon, Middle & Orange. The deserted and edgy surroundings doesn’t naturally come to mind as being a brunch hotspot; as one may more expect a milk bar offering a ‘Big M and Four n Twenty’ combo rather than a single origin coffee. Yet this brunch location is an oasis within its industrial surrounds, superb decor and a menu to impress.
Lemon, Middle & Orange‘s name isn’t derive from a baking recipe. It pays tribute to the pigments offered by the former paint factory site which it now resides. With its strong industrial surroundings, I was expecting the decor to be complementary to its neighbours – some gritty and industrial ‘in-your-face’ colours. Yet the architecture, led by John Wardle Architects, claims a minimalist feel. Soft timber highlights the industrial grey brick stonewall, used seamlessly as seating arrangements and bench tops continuously run along the narrow space. Lighting is achieved well for a space that lacks natural light with strategically placed light fixtures. There is also a quirky side to the venue that uses large paint tins as stools. For its industrial surrounding there is a defining calmness to this cafe.
Coffee is provided by 5 Senses, offering the famous ‘dark horse’ house blend and a single origin. Tasting their single origin long black [$3.80] from Nicaragua La Florencia, this roast had strongly deferred from typical punchy fruity notes. There was a strong syrupy flavour with slight hits of cherry. The flavour board also mentioned a combined chocolate flavour, however I couldn’t identify it.
The current winter menu has a number of promising menu items that span breakfast and lunch. All had an interesting twist or element to the dish, for example – the buttermilk pancakes is served with freeze dried fruit. After much deliberation, the Corned beef hash, mustard piccalilli puree, kohlrabi sauerkraut, swiss cheese, bagel wafer & fried egg [$17.90] had won me over.
From a technical perspective and as a diner, I absolutely loved this dish. The de-constructed hash contained perfectly cut and prepared potato cubes with consistent seasoning and crispy texture. The potato balanced the exceptional pieces of corn beef, leaving a subtle and pleasant saltiness on the palate. Combining the mustard puree and the pickled kohlrabi with the hash made for a unique flavour that beautifully binds the dish. Topped with a bagel wafer for bit of theatre and fried egg made for a exceptional brunch dish with lasting memories.
My brother from the same mother was in town, and while not being a massive foodie he was easily persuaded to try the Slow cooked beef brisket, cabbage slaw, grilled onion, dijon mustard & gherkin on toasted sourdough [$17].
A cafe is a combination of many elements. Yet, the difference between a great cafe and an average one is knowing how to hone in all the components to seamlessly work together in producing a superb experience. There is no doubt in my mind that Lemon, Middle & Orange falls into the great category.”
“Melbourne is such a bizarre little city. Think about it. Where else in the world can you go down a deserted block and find a cafe – unassuming at first view – that is buzzing with life inside? Where they serve 5 Senses coffee and have beautiful interior design elements to admire? This was exactly the case when I parked my car around the corner from Lemon, Middle & Orange, a cafe located in a quiet block of Collingwood.
The signage for this cafe is a bit off putting and not really attractive to lure in pass-byers. But turn your head and peak inside to reveal a barista window peering into an indoor-outdoor waiting area with polished cement flooring and a couple of seats and tables. A beautiful clutter of colour and activity behind the barista station draws you in to see more, and as you step through the door a linear channel of tables and chairs takes you through to the back area with a communal table, beautifully balanced between cafe sheek and gritty industrialism.
There was a group of us on this occasion, with Mr LB, Mr LB’s brother, Sonika, Eugene and I taking a seat towards the back of the venue. Lemon, Middle & Orange is owned by two Irish expats – Margaret Lawless and Liam Ganlev – whose brunch menu has hints of heritage inspiration, including soda bread. I was still trying to be healthy with my eating, and opted for the Big Brekky – free range eggs, bacon, cumberland sausage, roast mushrooms, roast tomato, potato latke, tomato relish w sourdough OR brown soda bread [$21] with a single origin coffee, which was fruity.
I opted for no bread with my meal and found the dish incredibly… meaty. Perhaps I should have read the menu more carefully but my meal was a sea of browns and grey when it came out, and visually it could have used more colour. It was delicious though, and had I eaten the bread it would have cut through the saltiness of the Cumberland sausage and bacon, which seemed to overpower the taste-buds. The potato latke was a lovely addition and it left me wanting more of that pillowy, soft potato inside a crunchy fried exterior.
Sonika had what looked to be a very pretty dish, which admittedly gave me a bit of food envy; Smashed avocado & feta on sourdough, poached eggs w heirloom tomatoes and beets [$18].
Overall Lemon, Middle & Orange is a great place to chill out. The vibe is good, they have delicious coffee and had some really yum looking muffins to snack out on. It’s a great option if you’re in the area and needing a nibble, or looking for a high quality low fuss brunch option.”
Final thought: “Industrial space meets a delightful brunch”