August 11, 2020 | 5 minute read
When Europeans first settled this sunny seaside spot, they named it for Scotland’s Marquess of Lorne as a fairly impressive wedding present (he was marrying Queen Victoria’s daughter, after all). The town’s rep as tourist destination really took off after the Great Ocean Road was extended to reach Lorne in 1922.
Nowadays, Lorne is a magnet for surfers, bushwalkers and weekend sea-changers. If you need a break from all that activity (or chillaxing), there are plenty of great spots to grab a bite. Like in many seaside towns, Lorne life is pretty laid back.
Most cafes do all-day breakfast, meaning you can get your eggs after a sunrise surf or well into the afternoon. And dinner options go far beyond your traditional seafood basket at the pub - but that’s pretty great, too. Here are my top picks.
* At the time of writing, activities and places mentioned in this guide are at varying stages of recovery from COVID-19. Please check government and business websites for specific details on opening times and any restrictions before you travel.
Moons Espresso Bar
This busy little café caters to the surf crowd and city weekenders alike. The blackboard menu touts a range of tasty Turkish pides that are keeping the 90s dream alive (grilled Mediterranean veggies and feta, anyone?). There's also all-day brekkie with slightly outside-the-box options like toast with cashew butter, avocado, tomato and balsamic. When the sun sets, Moons morphs into a Mexican cantina, serving up nachos, burritos and ice-cold cervezas.
Bottle of Milk
Sure, Bottle of Milk has the standard brekkie options covered, granola, banana bread, corn and zucchini fritters, but let’s be honest – we’re here for the burgers. This sunny, cheerful café has a burger for every occasion. Breakfast burgers run the gamut from fresh and healthy-ish, like the Hulk with haloumi and avo, to greasy hangover cure the Cold Shower with bacon, egg and hash brown.
Lunchtime options start with your basic Cheeseburger, graduate to the Hawaii (pineapple!) and peak with the Grandmaster (pretty much double everything). There’s even a kids-only burger. Look for the bright yellow-and-white-striped brollies out front.
A favourite with the locals, this friendly beachside cafe serves up a reliable selection of breakfast classics and an impressive choice of fruit smoothies and freshly squeezed juices to wash them down. Grab a seat outside and you’ll feel like you’re enjoying your blueberry pancakes on the beach.
One of the most exciting recent developments on the Lorne foodie scene is Frank Camorra’s decision to expand his MoVida empire to the coast. Camorra tested the waters with a pop-up in January 2018, and the reception was so warm he’s taken over the bottom bar of the Lorne Hotel for keeps. MoVida Lorne aims to capture the spirit of Spanish beach restaurants known as ‘chiringuitos’, and with magnificent views of the bay to enjoy with your tapas, it’s not far off (if a little fancier).
This coastal outpost is mainly about fresh local seafood, but MoVida classics like bomba and patatas bravas have made the journey down the Great Ocean Road. Keep it casual at the bar or take it up a notch in the dining room. And pack your esky to stuff full of cheeses, pickles and preserved seafood from onsite deli, Alimentaria. Buen provecho!
Chef Mark Purdie has been holding court in the kitchen of this Lorne dining scene staple for an impressive 25 years. Like many local eateries, his menu has a strong and understandable focus on seafood, but vegetarians are also exceptionally well looked after. The oven-baked silverbeet and ricotta gnocchi gratin with pumpkin puree and cheeses was almost enough to lure me away from the flash-fried cuttlefish on Japanese-inspired spinach salad with sesame dressing. Almost.
The menu is very suggestively laid out so that each meal is listed with a recommended wine pairing – don’t fight it. The dessert selection is a heartbreaking, Sophie’s Choice situation. Best bring along a group of your best sweet-toothed friends to ensure you get to try everything.
After putting Lorne on the foodie map with celebrated Greek taverna, Kosta’s, back in the 90s, the Talimanidis family moved on to nearby Airey’s Inlet to open up one-hat sensation A La Greque in 2003. But to the great joy of Lorne locals, the family have made a triumphant return to the very same spot on Mountjoy Parade. Talimanidis patriarch Kosta has passed the baton to his sons Alex and Dominic, who have reimagined Dad’s old-school taverna as Ipsos.
The boys have put a modern spin on some Greek classics, like chargrilled cuttlefish with chickpeas, wilted greens and chilli and roasted beetroot in labna, pistachios and mint. Leave room for karithopita (walnut cake with halva crème anglaise) and some heart-starting Greek coffee.