Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Monk Bodhi Dharma - Balaclava

At the risk of being accused of geographical prejudice, I decided to check out some of what the south side of town has to offer us Melbourne vegetarian types. After some brief consultations I got the word: Monk Bodhi Dharma is where it's at, so it's where I headed.

Firstly, the location is just COOL, plain and simple. Located in an old red-brick bakehouse nestled in at the rear of 202 Carlisle Street, it is one of a number of enticing foodie joints that has appeared in the fairly recent revolution of this strip, as more and more bohemian hole in the wall coffee shops, eateries and bars are popping up. And what's more - as hard as it is for a northerner to admit it - there is decidedly less of a feeling of pretension in Balaclava than at many of Fitzroy's Brunswick street establishments.

So, what to say about the Monk? Communal dining tables have been a motif of several of the nearby establishments I've been to, and the Monk holds up its end of the bargain on this front. A long, communal workbench-cum-dining table faces the counter, with several scattered private tables for those Green-conscious amongst us who wish to impress on a 1st, 2nd, or even 4th date (never the 3rd!). The all-day breakfast/lunch menu is entirely vegetarian, and majority vegan and gluten free - the Friday night dinner menu is completely vegan/gluten free, and most lunch meals can be adapted on request - and each meal is made from scratch. Sure, it means you may have to wait a few minutes more, but believe me, it's worth it!

The menu spoils you for choice. On this occasion I consulted the specials board and went for the warm vermicelli noodle salad, served with mushrooms, nuts, cherry tomatoes, iceberg lettuce and celery in a luxurious herb, chili and coconut milk dressing ($16.50). It was an absolutely mountainous dish, and was spot on. Not since dining out on street-food in Thailand have I tasted such a lively, invigorating noodle dish - the cherry tomatoes were literally bursting with flavour - and the plus being that, unlike in Thailand, there is NO doubt in my mind that the cook at Monk did not sneak a little fish sauce in under my nose. Whilst only open for breakfast and lunch - except for Friday dinners - this serve, complimented with a delicately flavoured cup of chai, was easily enough to be my meal of the day. 

Oddly enough, perhaps what Monk Bodhi Dharma is most renowned for is its coffee - it's full title is Monk Bodhi Dharma Specialty Coffee and Roastery - which, as someone for whom coffee is an extreme rarity, I didn't try on this occasion. However, if they put as much care into it as they do their food, chai and customer service, it would not surprise me if it got some of you northerner coffee junkies hooked on a regular junket south of the river. I know I can't wait until my next visit on a 1st, 2nd or 4th date (never the 3rd!).


1 comment:

  1. Gah, I'm excited to go and try this out. Been spending WAY too much time eating mushroom burgers at the Cornish Arms. Delish but not an everyday sort of meal.