1/725 Esplanade Mornington
(Visited January ’18)
It was the Australia Day weekend that had us venturing for a sea view from a café on the Esplanade. During some of Hubbie’s early morning Sunday drives where baby girl and I kept on sleeping (she doesn’t fall far from my tree) he came across Lilo several times, and seeing the amount of people bursting from the joint, decided immediately that we must go there.
And so it was a Sunday. A steadily approaching 35 degree day Sunday. I had to work later in the day so this was our little venture out as a family, trying to pack in quality time before I headed off. As we were seated in the bustling café, at one end of a communal table where there was an older couple on the other end of it, something started to become apparent.
Green plants (ok duh, but stay with me).
Green cutlery holder.
Green on the walls.
And then when I looked behind me at the counter/café section there was green everywhere!
Green, was the theme.
There was a nice quirkiness to it all, not cliché or overdone or just tacky. It was kind of like your Grandma’s house, but not like your average Grandma – rather this was the cool hippie Grandma who never remarried, swings with other like-minded independent pensioners on twice yearly cruises, and out-drinks the 20 somethings at the Christmas gatherings… and goes to bed after they have fallen asleep on the couch. And she loves green because it reminds her of that time with your Grandad at the park… never mind.
That kind of Grandma.
I perused the menu and while Hubbie got his first latte of the day, I opted for a fresh
Watermelon mint and apple cold pressed juice
(See, green straw).
It was tasty, and I could have easily had another. Hubbie meanwhile had an extra strong latte, as suggested by our waitress when he asked how strong the coffees were (apparently not that strong if he had to order strength up times two).
The café was fairly busy and noisy too. You could see outside to the trees across the road, which blocked much of the view of the water, but sitting at certain vantage points right near the window would definitely give you peaks of blue and sparkling.
It was hard at times to flag people over for service, being the public holiday weekend that it was, since everyone was out to play and eat, apparently, and also being Mornington having a 50% increase in general foot traffic through the eateries there… but once that was all done and we had a little wait, our breakfasts finally arrived (we were famished by that stage):
I had the Lilo brekkie – two poached eggs on toasted sourdough, potato croquettes, Istra bacon, peperonata
Hubbie had the B.L.T. Istra bacon, cos lettuce, tomato, relish, Noisette bun, fried egg
And baby girl had Pancakes with fresh strawberries, ice cream and maple syrup, and side of strawberry jam
I really enjoyed my meal. The eggs were poached perfectly, the potato croquettes were so yum and creamy, and that combination with the peppers that tasted like the home-style ones our parents make (Hubbie agreed) was just a fanciful flavour combo. The bacon wasn’t as clean as I liked, but that’s why I have Hubbie you see, to take the fat while I keep the clean bits. It was a simple and classic dish, not too weird to put people off of the standard fare, but still interesting enough to be memorable. It was a safe kind of different.
As you can see above, there was green lettuce in Hubbie’s burger… ok I am just kidding. Obviously, it cannot be purple (actually it can, aha!) Hubbie loved his burger, and said he would get chips with it next time. Yes, next time. He had added the egg which was optional, and really I don’t know how anyone can’t when you are having brekkie. He had a side of sauce because SAUCE FANATIC, forgetting that there was already relish in the burger… oops. Never mind, two sauces makes my butcher-sauce-loving Hubbie a very happy man.
Baby girl’s pancakes looked fresh and inviting. But at the same time she was firmly not into berries then, and so all she had to indulge in were the two very small pancakes with lashings of jam that we had asked for, and the ice cream. Size was on the meagre side, as I had to give her half of my toast just to satiate her appetite.
While heading over to the toilets one of several times that visit (experimental 4 year-old, that’s why) the theme that had been so prevalent throughout the dining area only expanded…
Because along with the eclectic wall of teaspoons that decorated the area directly opposite the male and female individual toilets…
The large and spacious inside toilet also continued with the green theme! Can I say, Grandma’s old school toilet is very, very cool. A large model of a lady hung on the inside toilet door, and the green continued in fixtures and fittings, towels and posters. It was a very attractive toilet, if I DO SAY SO myself. It really was, and maybe this was part of the reason baby girl had to go like, 3 times during our visit.
We ordered coffees after our meals were done with, and not surprisingly these probably took just as long as our food to arrive, they were that busy.
Cap, latte, babycino and choc-chip cookie.
Honestly, I was surprised the cookie did not come out on a green plate. Even the choc-chips. Come on, why?! :):):)
The coffee was mild and to my liking… and now I am questioning whether they have green coffee. That would just tip me over the edge. Ok I will stop now.
It was a busy and full experience there at Lilo, and since my time with family was limited, once our bellies were full of all things good, we headed towards the counter…
Food: 8/10. It was inventive yet also traditional in that it gave you the good stuff you would come to expect of a café… and based on our second and third experiences there, we have come to learn that they are very good at balancing the right flavours within a dish. Party in your mouth. Yummo Bravo.
Coffee: 7.5/10. Mild.
Ambience: Very busy and bustly, seems a noisy place and even when there haven’t been many around things just seem to echo. Considering the tranquillity of the across-the-road views, this café seems to block out everything else.
Staff: They were very busy that day, however other times we have found them, how should I put it, hard to come by? They tend to appear on the ‘understaffed’ side, therefore ‘stressed’ side, albeit still trying their best.
People: A very mixed bag, really it is everyone in here, with a good portion of the older generation seeming to inhabit. Why of course, it is Grandma’s friends.
Price: $78.65. That included a 10% surcharge for the Australia day public holiday. Although still acceptable, based on a future review of another café we dined at where we were slogged a 15% surcharge, I have to say…
I understand that staff need to be paid extra on the public holidays, and I certainly DO NOT oppose that. But I have two questions/statements, one from me, and one from Hubbie…
There is unreservedly a greater influx of people coming in on these days, meaning more customers = extra $$$, which I argue discounts the need to charge a surcharge to cover your staffs wages.
Second, Hubbie asked: If cafes create this imposed surcharge to cover their staffs additional wages, why then don’t the shopping centres charge us extra on public holidays to cover the definite increased wages they need to pay their staff? Safeway, Coles? Do they charge us extra?
(One can argue they already do, but I mean do they charge us additionally because of this day?)
It does not make sense. Cafes, STOP doing this, it is wrong and very annoying.
Advice: Now that I’m done with my outburst… sit as close to the windows if you want a sea view. Have one of their fresh juices. Go to the loo, and just be in the moment (seriously). Also if you love carbs, the potato croquettes in the Lilo brekkie are GOOD.
In a nutshell: It’s a café with a wonderfully retro character, which follows cleverly throughout. The food is simple yet done VERY well, and when eating you can tell the chef knows what he is doing. With a beautiful locale, it is easy to see how so many flock to this eatery, both for the food, interesting and homely atmosphere, and also for the chance to peak out at the waters nearby…
I guess it is kind of appropriate that a stretch of bushes and trees watch the café from across the road. Green.