Almost two decades ago when I lived in Brisbane I never really made it to Stones Corner, a gritty enclave in the inner south-east about 10 minutes from town. It was once a mecca for outlet and clearance fashion stores and while many of them still remain to satisfy those bargain shoppers, the food scene is limited to say the least.
A weekend north of the border had me meeting and having breakfast with (former) Brisbane blogger gbf and her family before being picked up by my brother and whisked off down to Stones Corner to try out a little café that has the type of substance that I love; plus I needed a decent coffee after the sad specimen I endured at breakfast on James St in the Valley.
Lady Marmalade is like a pulsing beacon on the corner of Cleveland and Logan, a beacon for coffee freaks like myself. Previous incarnations saw the building as a bank, a canary house & bird hospital (what the?) and more recently a music shop; so when current owners and former contestants Bec and Mel from My Kitchen Rules got their hands on the corner property they made it their own.
The joy they must have had. Sanding and chipping back internal and external walls revealing layers of forgotten history, chucking in a bunch of vintage paraphernalia, a working kitchen, a peacock, an Egyptian bust, Yia Yia’s delectable sugar-powdered bikkies and a taylored coffee blend that’s good enough to impress a fussy Sydneysider. I’m sorry, where am I? Surry Hills? Newtown? Alexandria?
The coffee was the first thing that grabbed my attention. Nice and strong macchiato, despite the thick and frothy head; just the buzz I needed and one I didn’t get earlier at Harveys. I may have eaten an hour before, but after setting my stomach to tetris mode on the drive over the Story Bridge. I had enough vacant real estate in there to slot in a not-so-little ploughman’s (14) whilst the brother tucked into a mound of roasted pumpkin, tomato, spinach, chilli & mint pesto and grilled haloumi (10.5) draped over sourdough. Simple food, great flavours and a gorgeous chutney with the ploughmans.
The sweets in the glass cabinet whispered our names loud enough for us to attentively grab a deliciously moist middle eastern orange cake (4.5) scattered with chopped pistachio and the most delectable lemon slice (4.5) I’ve tried.
Forget the bank, canary hospital and music shop. This is the type of place that matters most.