She’s cheap, dependable, a little bold and she always delivers. Surrounded by bus ramps, roundabouts and a constant rush of traffic, she’s an oasis of pleasure where urban lords, ladies, princes and paupers rock up not for mocha chocolata yaya but take-away Genovese coffee ($3.30) worth travelling for, and for breakfasts and brunches from her titillating all-day menu.
The food is miles from conventional. House-baked brioche ($12.50) is heaped with stewed rhubarb, nut crumble, a mound of Lady Marmalade brand Nutella and just-salted caramel. Topped with a tangerine-coloured flourish of Persian fairy floss, it makes a bold statement of morning decadence. If sweet ain’t your thang, go the Hanoi-style steak sambo ($14.50) whose sourdough roll is crammed with shredded brisket, crunchy sprout ’slaw, herbs and mayo. Enlivened with a smear of nam jim, it graduates to a hot and tangy taste sensation while bricks of pan-fried haloumi ($3.50) and potato and feta hash cakes ($2.50) are pleasurable bits on the side.
One wall is tattooed with Lady Marmalade’s name while others bear the markings of unearthed signage belonging to past occupants: a record shop, an old tax office and a bird dealer (the feathered kind). Inside, under a macramé wall hanging, shelves are filled with teapots dressed in knitted cosies and, nearby, a well stocked cabinet tempts sambophiles with killer combos of New Orleans pulled pork, chilli jam, mayo and greenage, or jerk-spiced chicken with sweet potato, caramelised onion and coconut mayo (each $9).
Isn’t it time you were welcomed, fed and watered by the most delightfully unconventional lady in town? Gitchi gitchi yaya here.