The Lillipad Cafe
An indigenous ethnobotanist runs this brunch spot celebrating Australia’s native flavors.
The Lillipad Cafe’s signature gangurru burger is, like many burgers, topped with lettuce and served in a toasted bun. Take one bite, however, and you’ll realize there is something special about it. The patty sports hazelnut-bitter notes, thanks to the addition of indigenous Australian wattleseed. It’s topped with a juicy bush tomato relish and finger lime mayonnaise. The patty itself is made of kangaroo meat—called “gangurru” in the Guugu Yimithirr language.
This brunch and lunch spot is owned by Nyoka Hrabinsky, an ethnobotanist from the indigenous Yidinji nation, and her husband Laszio. Hrabinsky learned to cook “bush tucker,” or native Australian food, by observing her elders as a child in an indigenous community in rural Queensland. As an adult, she worked as a park ranger, but felt that the role didn’t allow her to collaborate with the traditional owners of the land she worked on, many of whom had been forcibly displaced by European colonization.
So she pivoted to ethnobotany, working with native peoples in Queensland to document and preserve their plant knowledge and heritage. And at the Lillipad Cafe, with its funky murals and inventive use of indigenous ingredients like cinnamon myrtle, wattleseed, Davidson plum, and macadamia nut, she brings bush tucker to urban Sydney in the form of burgers and breakfast treats.
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