Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Monk Bodhi Dharma, Balaclava by Big Fil

Being a committed omnivore and a very occasional coffee drinker I'm not sure I fall in the key demographics for Monk Bodhi Dharma, a vegetarian coffee shop in Balaclava which also offers a range of vegan options. However, I was intrigued by this small sign pointing down an alleyway off Carlisle Street and liking the minimalist look I decided to give it a try.

The roughly painted walls/wooden communal table is pretty fashionable these days in the inner Melbourne suburbs, to the extent that the 'unfashionable grungy' look has become a fashion statement in its own right. This isn't a particularly deep or novel observation, or limited to Melbourne coffee shops (Vivienne Westwood going from dressing the sex pistols, to designing punk for the middle classes in the late 1970s, to Sex in the city in the 00's anyone?). But when it's done for the right reasons, rather than trying to appear part of the alternative mainstream, it puts the emphasis on the things that are most important: comfort, good food and service at reasonable prices. My impression is that MBD leans more towards the latter.

I was curious about the idea of a vegetarian French toast and ordered the Madagascan French Toast. Made with saffron toast, flavoured with cinnamon and cardamom, and served with poached pear, lemon ricotta with crushed pistachios and a (non-maple) syrup which I neglected to note down, I found it an interesting and subtle variation on the normal French Toast if a little bit too sweet for me.

Given it was cold and windy outside we also tried the Monk's Porridge ... porridge with fruit compote and served with milk and brown sugar on the side. I don't always like porridge, but I did like the milk and sugar served on the side, which both looked very cute and allowed me to adjust the wetness of the porridge and its sweetness to how I liked it (a bit wet but not very sweet). It could have used a bit more fruit but a good size serve of porridge and very satisfying on a chilly day.

Not quite me but somewhere I've already recommended to coffee fiend vegetarian friends in the area. This is another place I'd arrive at early though - the communal table is a little narrow so it gets pretty crowded when people start trying to read their paper over coffee or breakfast.

Ambience - 7
Service - 7
Food - 7
Price - 6

Rear of 202 Carlisle St
Balaclava VIC 3183
Tel: (03) 9534 7250

Monk Bodhi Dharma on Urbanspoon

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