By WENDY HARGREAVES
Your food hunting correspondent has just returned from a fried chicken and brisket binge in the USA. It was all the in the name of research, and I relished every mouthful.
But I’ve come home to clean out the arteries with a dose of the fresh, wholesome Melbourne food. Our city knows that healthy doesn’t have to mean boring… nor should it mean piles of kale and blobs of quinoa with blah salad dressing.
Here are five of my favourite Melbourne cafes where you can find guilt-free tucker, and leave feeling better than when you arrived.
- 183 and 316 St Georges Rd, Fitzroy North
Trading for 20 years, this legendary diner is busy every night for one reason – the unstoppable Hana Assafiri, who greets almost everyone with a warm mint tea (this is a booze-free venue). This strictly verbal menu is chock full of vegetarian dips, stews, soups and bakes to satisfy any carnivore. For take-home, head up the road to 313 St George’s Rd, and get a $2 discount if you take your own container.
- 11-13 Johnston St, Collingwood
- Lunch is never boring at Terror Twilight, where you can design-your-own bowls and broths of healthy goodness, with winter-warming toppers like sweet roasted pumpkin and charred haloumi, Feeling more virtuous? Do the clean thing and go for a lemongrass-spiked chook broth with veggies. There are no dud choices here.
- 2/242 Flinders Lane + the corner of Exhibition St and Flinders Lane, Melbourne. Also 89a Swan St, Richmond
- My go-to dish at this busy cafe chain is a bowl with warm, marinated field mushrooms, gently cooked in a masterstock and served on rice with steamed greens, spicy squash, enoki mushrooms, soy dressing, puffed rice and spring onion. Try stopping me after that one.
- 59 Hardware Lane, Melbourne
- Celebrity Israeli chef Eyal Shani gave Melbourne a masterclass in veggies when he opened his Australian outpost in Hardware Lane in 2017. Order the cauliflower. It’s baked perfection. And then go for the falafel burger.
- 304 Smith St, Collingwood
- For a serve home-style generosity, order the roast chicken with one of the many meal-in-themselves salads at this Smith St institution. And the coffee is always delicious.