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Little Marionette owner Ed Cutcliffe spreads his empire east to Bondi
Don’t let the name fool you. There is not a piece of wickerware or a tartan rug to be seen – nor are there any cartoon bears poised to gank you for a sandwich. Instead the interior is subtly industrial with polished concrete floors, huge steel green overhead lamps, lots of raw timber and cartons of Bonsoy piled beneath the counter. It's far enough back from the beach that the people inside are fully clothed, but the salty sea air still wafts up the hill reminding you that a quick dip is always on the cards.
There are white enamel tables sitting against a wall of windows and to brighten the place up green, spiky plants and bottles of hot sauce adorn each table. If you aren’t feeling social, or if it is too early to construct complete sentences, there is an intriguing magazine pile, including back-issues of Vanity Fair and Tattoo Candy. Start with a coffee – hell, end with one too, if the mood takes you. Little Marionette beans are always a safe bet and the coffee here is rich and strong. Change things up and go for the cold drip. It comes with a little jug of coconut water that gives the coffee a perfumed, almost floral flavour.
If you’re after a protein fix, the green eggs are tasty but the ham is just your standard deli ham. However they do roast trays of tomato wedges in-house, which are delicious. And just when you thought breakfast dessert couldn’t possibly get any more indulgent, the Picnic guys go and replace the bread in French toast with sweet, buttery pastry. That’s right: the breakfast special is croissant French toast. What looks like two – but may well have been closer to five – chocolate and plain croissants are sliced up, dipped, fried and stacked with yoghurt, banana, almonds and lime wedges. It also comes with berries. If you haven’t worked up an appetite beforehand, you may need to take a long walk, or perhaps run a marathon, afterwards.
Of course, it’s all about knowing your audience, and catering to surfers and backpackers is the name of the game in Bondi, so you can also get a bowl of Coco Pops or Cornflakes, or just some peanut butter toast for a more familiar start to the day. If it is a flying visit, there are hearty breakfast rolls and Luxe pastries to go, and with a good coffee balanced in the other hand, we say bring on the breakers.