First off I am not a vegetarian. Don’t think I could be, but every so often I come across really good vegetarian cafes and don’t miss meat at all. And so far my favourites have been in Melbourne.The one place I ate at many times in Melbourne was Lentil as Anything. a not for profit organisation. Back in 2011 my husband and I volunteered at Lentil in St Kilda. Enjoyed every moment working there and even ate there on our days off.
St Kilda is one of my favourite places to hang out in Melbourne, as it is near the sea, has my favorite allotment in the world and is a glorious meld of backpackers and the well heeled. Sitting outside Lentil is a great place to people watch.
The other Lentil we also went to was the one at Abbotsford Convent. We spent Christmas Eve here in 2011, happy memories of the Farmers Market, lunch at lentil then listening to the band at the bar around the corner.
This year we took the dogs to the Farmers Market at Abbotsford, which in retrospect wasn’t a good idea. Neither of them like crowded places, so after eating we found a quiet place to sit with the dogs and took it in turns to go around the market.
That said, Mac was so funny, when he saw anyone with food in their hand he sat straight away in front of them and gave them his ‘feed me look’.
The dogs were always a hit at all the cafes we took them to. they came to brunch with us at by the dog park regularly (on our non veggie days) And Lentil St Kilda was our post beach or Botanic Garden walk visits.
Lentil as Anything has a Pay as you Feel policy. There are no prices on the menu, just suggested donations. If you can’t afford to pay the suggested donation, pay what you can afford, as all donations are anonymous, made via the Magic Box. Also you can pay by giving your time as a volunteer.
The clientele are eclectic, there is a little bit more of the hipster vibe at Abbotsford while it is more backpackers at St Kilda, along with anyone else who goes there for the amazing food. I always remember my last shift as a volunteer when a family donated $80 for their meal (we only knew because he paid by card). The manager had actually keyed in $18 and was shocked when the customer said to him that he was paying $80 not $18. That is how Lentil works.
The other vegetarian cafe I visited with Phil was in the city on Swanston Street. Crossways is a Hare Krishna restaurant, a few steps away from Flinders Street Station just past McDonalds. Seriously why anyone would eat at a fast food place when you can get two courses and a drink for $7.95 or $5.95 for concessions is beyond me.The menu changes daily and there is a lounge area and a yoga studio on the top floor.
It is basic, you share tables, the portions are generous and you can go back for seconds. Here you are as likely to share a table with an office worker as you are a backpacker.
Melbourne is a food lovers paradise. The markets have amazing food to take home, or take a walk along Lonsdale Street and you can choose from Burgers, Italian, Greek and South East Asian food within a minute of each other.
The amazing burgers and brunches make me want me to book a ticket to Melbourne right now. Yet for value for money, for the planet, to be part of the community and to give your body a break from all the animal protein go visit Lentil and Crossways . You won’t regret it.