The noticeable buzz around town when a new westside cafe is set to open is almost palpable. But, what once used to be an isolated event is now one of regularity. With a wave of venues popping up west of the city — most recently the much-hyped Cobb Lane in Yarraville — The Little Man in Seddon could have easily gone unnoticed.
Set on Seddon's main drag, the cafe sits in place of the old Victoria Street Post Office. While the post office drab has been eradicated, a few PO boxes stacked against the wall remain. It's a small detail, but one that shows loyalty to the area and the buildings past.
The space is otherwise pleasant, although it's a little too IKEA display kitchen to express much character. Everything is white, blue and light timber, irrevocably in place and new. There's a precision in placement that can't be faulted on paper, but you get the feeling a few scuffs and coffee stains will erase the sterile brand-newness. Having only been open since early December, it's an element easily forgiven — certainly when everything else overcompensates.
First there's the smell of coffee (Seven Seeds, no less) and the ensured sight of at least one cafe-goer hoeing into an enviable Little Man's Burger with a handful of rustic hand-cut chips. But if it hasn't quite hit lunchtime, the all-day breakfast menu covers all bases. The basics, including chilli and herb scrambled eggs ($12) and corn fritters with smoked salmon ($16), are solid; the more surprising dishes — yoghurt panna cotta with fresh fruit and pistachio praline ($12), espresso ricotta crepes ($14) — make it interesting. If you're going for aesthetics, the brioche French toast with nectaries, candied hazelnuts and mascarpone ($15), is very filter-friendly.
With less-than-exorbitant prices, a modest concept and comforting cooking, The Little Man is a westside local in every sense of the word. A few more months of service is sure to inject some character into the space — the cafe is characterised by a chimp, after all — as well build a loyal fan base and steady slew of Seddoners.
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