Little Big Sugar Salt: ‘LBSS’ Café
Address: 385 Victoria Street, Abbotsford
Phone: (03) 9427 8818
Open: Weekdays, 6:30am to 3pm
Weekends, 8am to 3pm
“Ask for the food. Believe we will serve you the food. Receive the food.”
That’s what you’re told when you walk into Little Big Sugar Salt, a welcome intruder in a strip of phở joints and Asian groceries that sell chocolate-filled panda heads and Pocky sticks.
There are four bosses at LBSS café: Erika Geraerts, Charl Laubscher, Morgan Green and Adam Houston. Their friendly hellos and chitchat make you feel like you’ve just walked into someone’s home, as does the black gold fish in a bowl and the long hallway that branches off into different dining rooms.
Walls lined with artwork loaned by Metro Gallery in Armadale join the tall archways, and all of the art is for sale. The skull butterflies by Deface are worth checking out, as are the sketches by Aaron Tyler that can be seen in the ‘eating room’ (as opposed to the ‘meeting room’ with the hefty communal table) and on the menu.
The menu design has been appropriated from a McSweeney's cover (“We tried not to copy you. We failed. We are sorry,” reads the miniscule menu fine print) and is divided into a quadrant based on how big, little, sugary or salty you want your food. There are just eight dishes on the menu (“…we’d rather do just a couple of things, and do them well”), which range between $8 and $16.
Giggling at the menu, I found myself in the middle of the little/sugar section ordering crumpets: one with creamy mascarpone and a smear of zesty lemon curd, the other with a generous mound of almond, cashew and peanut butter; a drizzle of maple, soft banana and pungent blue cheese. Yep, blue cheese. It worked, and that’s all you really need to know.
My hospitality-snob friend and dining partner went for the hash cakes with kaiserfleisch from Bertie’s Butchers, cured and smoked pork that’s pretty much bacon for royalty. The herbed hash hid an addictive housemade BBQ sauce beneath it and did a wonderful job of mopping up the yolk from the fried egg. I tried it and approved, but my mate gave it two thumbs up, so it must have been good.
After more chatting than chewing, we made a pit stop at LBSS’ #selfiestation. The concept is genius: a full-length mirror in the bathroom (one of the nicer café bathrooms I’ve seen, complete with a view of the veggie patch out back) that encourages people to snap a selfie and splatter it all over the Internet. It makes LBSS happy with free publicity, and it make visitors happy because they’re allowed to take a selfie without being accused of being a wanker. Did I partake? HELL YEAH.
On the way out, we admired the sweets in the cabinet—biscuits and a complicated looking rocky road by Lola Berry of nutritionist fame—but were soon distracted by the business cards. If you ask me, anyone who can get ass and titties into a family friendly café wins bonus points.
The coffee at LBSS is spot on, a combination of the people (Angus Gibbs is on the coffee machine after ‘practicing’ at Deadman Espresso, St. ALi and Seven Seeds) and the beans (single-origin, fair-trade En Zed from Wellington, New Zealand). Those keeping caffeine clean ought to try a siphon soda, made with Six Barrel syrup, also from Wellington. Flavours include vanilla creme, cherry and pomegranate, and lemon and ginger root.
I dig LBSS because it’s different, but it’s doing ‘different’ in a way that’s different from other cafés that are different. Let me explain: cafés like Bayte and Industry Beans are smashing it because they are original. Bayte has an extensive menu with a Lebanese twist, while Industry Beans has fancy food and coffee chemistry. The difference between these cafés and LBSS is that the latter is doing different simply. It doesn’t matter if you’re after K.I.S.S food, friendly staff, or a place to wean yourself off heroin, Little Big Sugar Salt won’t let you down.