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Ultimo scores a welcoming, polished neighbourhood café from a young and highly experienced team
With its bustling narrow footpaths, perpetual construction projects and conga line of rattling buses, Broadway might take the cake for Sydney’s least fun pedestrian experience. Luckily, respite is now available for us – hark! Seek out the bucolic signage at Little Livi, a little cottage tucked just far enough down Mountain Street to remain a viable pit stop on a takeaway coffee rush.
Rest assured, your cuppa is in steady hands here. Ask the friendly partner/barista Amadeo Vasquez about his lateral involvement with various roasters, importers and brewers through his career, and you’ll come to understand he’s curated Little Livi’s coffee menu from a truly wide range of experience. Today’s super clean, vibrant filter coffee hails from Dukes in Melbourne, served in a bulbous glass for optimal sniffin’ and quaffin’. Bonus points awarded for Little Livi’s house blend being an actual house blend, designed by Vasquez himself. It’s rich and punchy through milk, and its syrupy honey sweetness intensifies as it cools.
Decent grab'n'go breakfast options are something of a rare find around here, so if you’re wondering why everything looks miles better than the cling-filmed banana breads of your past, it’s because partner/chef Daniel Leyva once headed the kitchen of the Bridge Room (RIP), and this fine-dining pedigree shines through in the visuals of every edible thing under the roof. An abundant pastry cabinet features artfully stuffed croissants, bagels (by Brooklyn Boy Bagels) and housemade sandwiches, all great value and fresh.
Whip out the camera for their brekky roll, featuring a perfectly round hunk of fried mortadella, soufflé eggs as fluffy as a cloud, punchy pickled onion spears and even a small pile of vivid green celery salt on the side for sprinkling. It’s an awfully technical feat for a weekday morning, really, but feels brilliantly simple at the same time.
It doesn’t resemble any shakshuka we’ve ever seen, but the Green Shakshuka may just win overall favourite dish. A slap of zingy sherry vinegar lifts an emulsion of fresh herbs, sending a wave of electricity through layers of tahini yoghurt, runny yolk and rye bread. A lunch plate of cauliflower, housemade quark, pine nuts and pomegranate molasses is unexpectedly turbo on acidity, disrupting the balance a little. Mumma’s chicken rice is a safer bet for the hungry traveler – kind of like pimped-up leftovers. It features bonus chunks of lamb, almonds, plus extra pita and hummus to boot. The kitchen prioritises approachability over experimentation, although we’d love to see a few more risks taken for the menu to reach peak actualisation.
Indeed, approachability is the mantra at Little Livi, and judging by the diverse crowd of students, professionals and residents we see being cheerily greeted by the owners, the approachability approach hits the spot. After all, every suburb deserves a comfortable and welcoming place for folks to recharge before diving back into the outside world.