Think you need to check into a fancy hotel to get an all-you-can-eat cake buffet for breakfast, complete with pots of house-made caramel, trays of tarts, rows of fresh croissants and gleaming chocolate bundt cakes? The good news is you’re wrong, and you’re about to be better off by a whole lot of dollar signs. Every Sunday, Ovo Cafe, a Brazilian joint hidden inside the no-longer seedy, but still far-from-chic Oxford Square shopping centre, puts on a sweet breakfast feast. And at $25, its exceptional value if you like your fruit salads bottomless and you have no family history of diabetes.
With its hanging plants, cheerfully painted walls and mosaic tiled floor, Ovo is the nicest looking cafe inside a windowless shopping centre we’ve ever seen. The crowd on weekends is a testament to an aesthetic and service that’s wholly upbeat. People who could be waiting in line outside in the sun are instead choosing to wait in line (albeit a shorter line) inside under fluorescent lights.
If you don’t fancy the cake parade, but still have a sweet tooth, eating at Ovo is a great excuse to order Brazil’s second most famous export – the acai bowl, a dish which happens to be the favourite meal of Brazil’s most famous export: supermodels. This one is as photogenic as the women who love it, layered with slices of kiwi, banana and strawberry like the scales of a rainbow fish. Underneath it’s sweet, slightly fragrant and icy. Perfect for warm summer days.
If you’re after something considerably more substantial, get feijoada. It’s a meaty mixed stew of ham hock, steak, black beans and chorizo that’s salty, smoky and will send your hangover back to the fiery gates from whence it came. The Frango 'Caipira' (chicken thighs and polenta) is also deeply satisfying. Meanwhile, lift-and-shredders can have the PF “Super Healthy” which is protein (steak, chicken or fish – your choice), beans, rice and a salad.
Straddling the health extremes are the pao de queijo, fluffy little bread loaves which are soft on the inside, crunchy on the outside and both #glutenfree and stuffed with cheese. They are excellent. No matter how hungry you are (or aren’t) you should order some.
They also do the Aussie classics well. Avo on toast comes piled high, with a generous side of smoked salmon and a greenfall of parsley; and scrambled eggs are soft and fluffy. The coffee is fine – acceptable in a suburb with vertiginous standards. But it’s not why you come here. You come here because Brazilian food done well is delicious, and the prospect of a cute Brazilian person smiling at you (they will) is just as appetising.