When Ashleigh Nguyen and Lily Tran took over Arlette’s Kitchen in late-2017, they started shifting the menu towards a French-Vietnamese offering for lunch and dinner. That change in direction for the Albion eatery finally reached its endgame in September when Nguyen and Tran rebooted Arlette’s as a cafe serving innovative breakfasts and traditional Vietnamese lunches.
“Before, we were doing more fusion food,” Nguyen says. “Now [the menu is] a bit more selfish. It’s food we really enjoy eating. It’s more traditional Vietnamese.”
Arlette’s Kitchen had been operating for more than a year when Nguyen and Tran took on the eatery, so they were initially apprehensive about ending its dinner service. The compromise was to introduce weekend breakfasts as a test. They soon became a hit.
“With my background as a barista and Lily’s as a dessert chef, we [wanted] to turn [Arlette’s] into a cafe,” Nguyen says. “It’s a completely different business now.”
While there’s a new direction with the food, the space hasn’t changed. The converted Queenslander features polished wooden floorboards, mismatched furniture and large windows that allow plenty of natural light to stream in.
The breakfast menu consists of modern-Australian dishes with a Vietnamese twist. Take the smashed avo on toast, for instance. It’s topped with black pudding, seared scallops, and a Vietnamese herb salad. There’s also a crispy pork belly burger with roasted red cabbage puree, slaw and Sriracha mayo.
Nguyen and Tran’s Vietnamese heritage comes through in the lunch menu (they both came to Australia in 2008). There’s banh hoi thit nuong (grilled pork with stacked rice noodles), pho ga (northern-style chicken pho) and thit kho tau (twice-cooked pork belly).
Coffee comes from Stafford’s Elixir and is backed by a small range of smoothies and juices. There’s also Vietnamese iced coffee, which is served strong – just how Nguyen and Tran drink it back in Vietnam.
This article first appeared on Broadsheet on September 18 2018. Menu items may have changed since publication.
59 Albion Road, Albion
(07) 3861 1534
Tue to Sun 7am–3pm arletteskitchen.com