LULU Cafe and Gallery A Shining Star in North Melbourne
LULU Cafe and Gallery is a shining European style haven in North Melbourne for foodies and art lovers alike. This is surely one of the hidden gems of Melbourne. The World Loves Melbourne was invited to LULU Cafe and Gallery to sample the menu (including breakfast/lunch all day menu as well as the dinner menu) and was highly impressed.
Owners Roger and Pan are creatives and foodies who thrive on hospitality and creating something unique in Melbourne. They want diners to leave well satisfied with the foodie offerings and the value for money. We were surprised at the quality of the breakfast and lunch menu, and the level of sophistication of the dinner menu dishes. LULU turned out to be one of our best dining experiences of 2016 in terms of dinner, and for the money it was a steal.
The ambience during the day is attractive with a light and airy feel to this cafe. The breakfast and lunch menu hums with classic dishes with a LULU twist. AVO Go is a delightful dish with smashed avocado on sourdough toast, smoked egglplant creme fraiche, salsa verde, coriander and chilli.
The Sexy Fruit Salad lives up to it's name with seasonal fruit, coconut yoghurt with a smart kaffir lime gel.
French Toast brings the best of French breakfast tastes, featuring lavender and grapefruit ricotta, nut praline and maple syrup.
And who doesn't love a classic Croque Monsieur? Quality sliced ham off the bone is featured with three cheeses and a hint of Dijon mustard.
A delightful simple dish is Lulu's Spicy Chicken Milk Roll with Chicken, avocado, coriander and smoked paprika aioli. We would like to eat this every day for lunch.
Also check out the fabulous Lulu's Poussin (whole length Poussin roasted with lemon, fennel, sage and thyme) and the Slow Cooked Pulled Beef dish. Not to mention a Caramelised Pear and Cress Salad and Catch of the Day options.
Open from Wednesday through to Sunday (with plans to open other days in the future), LULU has embarked on the odyssey of opening at night for dinner from 4pm to 10pm. LULU describes it as a Night Bar Menu but it seemed much more, with several dishes conducive for sharing. Check out dishes such as Mussels, kimchi, n'duja and lupin flakes as a small plate. Even a simple Asparagus, stracciatella, rye and grilled scallions is a delightful dish - on the night we dined we enjoyed the asparagus with burnt eggplant!
Or order the Sicilian pesto tortelloni with spring caponata and almonds; a dish that will take you back to Europe. Or the Pork belly with Sicilian mole, fennel and pistachios. We were taken by the quality of these dishes; it was the quality of ingredients, the innovation, balance of the dishes and the attention to detail that captivated us.
Dessert also impressed with current offerings being Ricotta brambleberries, charcoal and elderflower and Pineapple, chilli, buckthorn and dark chocolate.
LULU Cafe and Gallery is a place of conviviality with a European theme. In fact you would think you were in Europe with the hospitality, decor and menu selections. Of course LULU was a famous French character of note back in the days of silent film. She was a savvy figure and model of women's independence. The life of LULU is celebrated and the French influences are compelling. We love the raison d'etre on the website, " Lulu Cafe & Gallery is a space in the community of North Melbourne where arts and flavours combine to provide a unique combination of stimulating art, good food, coffee, wine, conversation and music."
We feel LULU is a place where innovation and flair exudes; and it's not the same old predictable path or cafe formula you sometimes see in Melbourne. You may spot some house made pickles; you will be drawn in by innovative daily specials, the bartender from France will have something special up his sleeve. The menu is evolving. Many nations are represented in the staff, with many having had European experience.
LULU is a place to relax and unwind; no-one pressures you or rushes you to move on. Pan is a charming host and loves to engage (she speaks numerous languages). You'll feel like you're among friends. The service itself is not only engaging but attentive.
The decor is modern with funky timber booths, fashionable bar stools, stunning artwork on the walls (after all it is a gallery as well upstairs), high ceiling, quirky globes and features mounted at the bar, and a curious cheese table.
The vista through the large windows overlooking Queensberry Street is enjoyable; definitely a neighbourhood of the well heeled. Although the crowd here is eclectic.
The outdoor courtyard dining area is legendary in North Melbourne as a perfect hidden location for friends to catch up and dine, as well as a place for your next function. the recently renovated space seats 30 people and is perfect for the warmer weather. Diners can enjoy an extraordinary long timber table. Out on Queensberry Street are delightful chairs and tables...
Live music is also a feature with bands and trios, for example, on show regularly. The owners are into alternative music themselves and so this is a labour of love.
The Gallery thrives with fascinating exhibitions from global and local artists. Recently they held a Japanese Woodblock Exhibition (open until Dec 21 2016) which explored the influence of Japanese Ukiyo-e on French Impressionism. Original Antique prints by famous artists Hokusai (The Wave) and French poster artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec were featured.
Visit LULU for dinner and you will see an eclectic group of diners; including maybe some artists, legal fraternity, and locals.
North Melbourne may be known for precincts like Errol St but LULU lights up Queensberry St with a foodie haven that is only a short walk from the city. LULU is also not far from the Queen Victoria Market (900m).
LULU is a convivial and creative hub; whether for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Or for special functions and events, as well as gallery exhibitions. You may want to visit more than once in a day!