Local Folk, Kensington

43 Epsom Road Kensington | 9939 7241
We went: Sat May 3 2014 | Verdict: 20.5 / 25

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In a nutshell: new kid on the Melbourne brunch scene, this neat brunch cafe stands alone in densely-residential Kensington neighbourhood.

We ate:

– beno
– pork belly sliders
– vegan brekky (composed of various sides and toast)

Food: MBS followers know how much I love a pork belly slider. There needs to be something pretty darn special on offer to trump it when the waiter comes to take orders. I can honestly say that Local Folk do a good slider! For $16.90, you get two quite large sliders with a generous amount of mouth-watering pork and crackle. The coleslaw is crunchy and the house-made mayo not too over-powering (there probably wasn’t enough mayo in hindsight). The fresh coriander added nice fragrance to the dish. The buns, although a tad burnt, were firm, hot and fresh. But the winner here is the pork — just like mum used to make, with the chewy-crunchy crackle barely hitting the sides.

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The wife chose an old fave, the Beno (eggs benedict). “The poached eggs were cooked perfectly, the hollandaise sauce was nice and the sourdough was freshly toasted and not too soggy,” she said. “There was nothing too special about the bacon, it was just regular bacon; the spinach was well-seasoned. I was pretty happy with it all.”

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My brother, who is vegan, had a bit of trouble finding a vegan-friendly dish so in the end ordered toast and added pretty much all the extras he could that were vegan-friendly (avo, spinach, hashy, beans, tomato and mushrooms). He was happy with everything, however it would be nice to see a few vegan-friendly options on the menu next time (they had only been open a week).

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The menu, overall, is reasonably ‘safe’. All of the traditional faves are there. There is a lunch menu that is available after 11.30am and plenty of kids’ meals that are just $5 a piece. 3.5/5

Coffee: there is nothing wrong with the coffee here. Very drinkable but like an introvert at a dinner party, doesn’t cause a fuss yet you want it to say something. The milk in my latte was the most prominent feature, and I don’t think it should be (my fault perhaps for not ordering a strong one). Have been loving my pour-over filters lately, really think this shows off the beans’ true character. Unfortunately there were no such options here. But that’s ok. I don’t think that’s the vibe they’re going for. It’s just honest cafe food here and regular coffee. That’s ok, right? 3/5

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Vibe: I wish I had come here when it was La Canella, the Italian restaurant that traded from this spot before it morphed into Local Folk. Then I could comment on the changes the owners have made. I know they’ve given it a paint job on the outside (the grey facade is anything but drab — it’s quite smart and professional… safe). What I like about Local Folk is there are three options for seating (if you can get a seat as it can get busy, especially on weekends). There’s out the front, inside or inside up the back, which is slightly elevated (this is where we sat). They’ve got some trendy lights and a number of tasteful hipster-type touches around the cafe that give it a laid-back, cool feel. For example, an old tricycle fills the space where it looks like a pizza oven once resided. For a place that has been open a week, there’s a real buzz here, in a good way. People seem happy here and it’s easy to see why — good food, good lighting (a generous amount of natural light fills the space), decent coffee and great, friendly service (see below). 4/5

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Price: $55 for the three of us (meals and coffee). Outstanding value! 5/5

Service: Couldn’t ask for more from our waiters. Friendly and service with a smile, nothing was too difficult. They were really apologetic when explaining their point-of-sale wasn’t yet up and running but still were efficient with getting the job done. Food was quick and so was the coffee. Very efficient operation… you wouldn’t know they had only been open a brief time. Apparently the owners formerly worked at the Roxy Hotel (where the owner was a chef) out Cranbourne way and this is their first attempt at running a cafe. So far, so good. Keep it up, guys! 5/5

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