It’s located not on the main Sydney Road drag but on O’Hea Street. Looking at it from the outside you wouldn’t necessarily pick Little Deer Tracks as a cafe let alone a vegetarian one. A non-descript looking shop in a group of non-descript looking shops on a non-descript looking street, it wouldn’t surprise me to know that it had been a furniture retailer or something similar in a previous life.
Inside is in some ways fairly typical Melbourne cafe in style, although for me appropriately for a vegetarian cafe it felt more organic and less forced than in some locations. For example, the art decorations on the wall, the casual wooden furniture and the cups and saucers felt more like the sort of ‘what will we do with what we have’ approach of a student share house than the very obvious seeking to create a particular mood or space that some cafes have (and consequently can feel very artificial).
I got a very mixed vibe from the staff. Our waitress was lovely, friendly and helpful, charmingly slightly flustered when she realised she had neglected to provide us with table water. The older guy behind the counter didn’t come across the same way though. It’s one of those things, if the first thing and last thing you see is a scowl that’s what you are going to remember.
What I loved most about our visit here had nothing to do with the cafe at all. Seated just across from us were a mother with a girl around three years old. When asked what he wanted for breakfast I swear I heard him say at the top of his lungs ‘Coffee!’ although Snooze later told me she heard Cookie.
First impressions of the food were really good, with one of the most chocolaty hot chocolates I’ve had in a while.
Vegetarian Little Deer Tracks is not vegan, so that Snooze’s baked beans on sourdough bread came with hash brown and Greek feta on the side. The entire dish was enormous. The crispy hash brown, was enormous, crispy golden on the outside and white fluffy goodness on the inside. The feta was also delicious, smooth, creamy and not overly salty. Unfortunately the beans themselves were disappointingly tasteless. It's a good thing I was there because Snooze would never have managed to eat this dish on her own.
I decided to go with the buckwheat and apple pancakes. Things I liked about it: the slightly coarser texture of the pancake, the burst of apple flavour and the maple syrup served on the side. I wasn’t that fond of the vanilla cream though, finding it a little runnier than I would have liked.
Little Deer Tracks is a pleasant local vegetarian cafe. It’s never going to be a personal favourite, the style is not quite me, the menu is on the limited side and I’d describe the food as good rather than top notch. Putting all that aside I did enjoy our visit here and, if it was closer to home I'd have no problems with visiting again with vegetarian friends.
Food – 7
Service – 7
Atmosphere – 7
Price – 7
44 O’hea Street
Coburg VIC 3058
Tel: (03) 9354 3449