John Gorilla is a casual neighbourly cafe that could easily become your second home. For many Brunswick West locals, it already is. You’ll spot them sitting out the front with their dogs, inside eating hearty brunches surrounded by art, or in the leafy rear courtyard drinking hot Dimattina coffees.
The main draw is the creative brunch menu, which takes in a chilli scramble souped up with peanuts on roti, Sriracha-glazed thick-cut bacon with potato rosti, and zucchini and haloumi fritters with chermoula yoghurt, poached eggs and beetroot relish. Rotating specials include the crowd-favourite French toast, which changes every week and might be topped with seasonal fruits like caramelised figs or poached rhubarb, and finished with a dollop of, say, labneh or mascarpone.
For lunch, it might be sandwiches lined with slow-cooked lamb, zucchini fritters, or a classic BLT. There are also plenty of sweets on offer, including gooey almond croissants, Portuguese tarts and gluten-free brownies. Plus, there are house-made dog treats – which you might find owner Joanna Wilson’s dogs enjoying in a quiet corner.
Like the food menu, the considered drinks list caters to many, with Dimattina coffee, freshly squeezed juices, steamy house-made chai and spicy Bloody Marys.
The playful space brings in art wherever possible. Its right-side wall is lined with colourful portraits, which Wilson found at garage sales, online auctions and op shops across Victoria. Multi-coloured rulers line the cafe’s counter, while the leadlight windows out the front add heritage-style character. There’s also a small undercover courtyard out the back.
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