Australia Might Be Taking Over L.A. Via Coffee and Sandwiches
There's been a steady rise in the Australian influence on L.A.'s food scene in the past year or so, and a lot of it is happening in coffee shops. The latest, Little Ripper Coffee in Glassell Park, is offering up two Australian delights of particular note: homemade Tim Tams and jaffles. It also offers Vegemite, but that's pure evil in a jar and I won't discuss it further.
Australia's culinary influence on our fair city started with upscale venues: Curtis Stone's two restaurants and E.P. & L.P., which has a heavily Australian staff and is owned by an Australian company, Botanical Hospitality, which will be opening another concept here next year. (Plus, L.A. Weekly's former restaurant critic is Australian. She says she recently moved back to Australia to be with family, but she's actually spying on the food for me. Don't tell.)
But it's the coffee shops that are really leading the Aussie charge, using complicated caffeinated beverages and delicious little snacks to win over their American friends. Paramount Coffee Project on Fairfax is the younger sibling of a shop of the same name in Sydney; it serves a globally inspired food menu and coffee drinks like a vanilla bean latte and an espresso spritzer. Great White in Venice follows the same model, with brunchy food and specialty coffees, including, of course, the flat white.
Little Ripper is much smaller than those two Aussie cafes, as is befitting its neighborhood-y Eastside location. The short menu includes custom English muffins (one vegan, one not) with homemade jam, various pastries and toasts, and those re-created Tim Tams, a riff on one of Australia's most popular packaged treats; here, they're a true chocolate reverie. Ask a staffer how to do a Tim Tam Slam.
The jaffles are the star of the menu, though. These are made on a machine that first became popular in Australia, but the concept is worldwide: It's a grilled sandwich, with the edges smooshed together to create an enclosed filling situation. Yeah, kind of like an Uncrustable, but fresh, and here filled with things like avocado, cheddar and prosciutto.
Little Ripper's coffee menu includes, as can be expected, a flat white. But if you enjoy floral flavors, get the lavender–almond milk latte, a rich, caramel-y drink that's practically its own meal. But you'll still have room for that Tim Tam.
4155 Verdugo Road, Glassell Park; (323) 739-0328, littlerippercoffee.com.
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