72a Acland Street St Kilda, Victoria 3182
|Opening hours||Daily 7.30am-4pm|
|Prices||Moderate (mains $20-$40)|
|Payments||eftpos, Visa, Mastercard|
|Phone||03 9534 1111|
So Deborah Conway – or someone who looks a lot like her – swipes my menu from the table while my plus-one is hunting for the bathroom.
"Sorry," Conway smiles.
The menu that she swiped (if it was even her) is a neat summary of the clean eating concerns of the moment.
The day at this St Kilda cafe starts with bowls of on-trend and oh-so-Instagrammable breakfast superfoods – matcha and coconut, avocado, spinach, coconut oil, cashew mylk (healthy speak for non-dairy milk), strawberry, banana, coconut shavings, lime and coconut granola; dragon fruit, banana, raspberry, almonds, activated chia, goji berry, orange and chocolate protein granola; and almond mylk porridge – all infused with protein powder (it's vegan pea protein).
The signature breakfast is a vegan egg that neatly disposes of the question about which came first: no chickens were harmed in the production of this poachie.
The "yolk" is made from linseed protein and sweet potato set in a "white" of coconut milk-infused agar. Served simply on a slice of toast, it has a texture more like a boiled egg than a poached, and a flavour mix of coconut milk and sweet yellowness.
Plant-based sides for this build-your-own breakfast include "bacon" made from dehydrated mushrooms that looks and tastes like a soft vegetable chip with a hickory smoke backbeat; and torn pieces of "bocconcini" made from coconut oil and soy milk whose main flavour is the olive oil and salt used to dress them, though in texture they are similar to fior di latte.
At this point it feels like text-a-vegan-friend time: Do real vegans eat fake eggs? "If it doesn't TASTE like an egg, what's the point?" she replies. "Also, if you are against eating animal products why would you pretend to?" Umm, hmm.
Bowls based on the "Blue Zones" feature for lunch. The Blue Zones are places with a high proportion of very old people: Okinawa, Sardinia, Loma Linda in California and the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica. This longevity is attributed on the menu to plant-based diets.
So the Okinawa bowl features matcha soba, sweet potato, kale, edamame and more of that edible seaweed. (Don't tell the Okinawans, whose soba are egg and wheat-based noodles, not buckwheat, and often served in a broth with pork belly.) The Costa Rica bowl seems closer to the mark: quinoa, blue corn taco, corn, mixed beans, sweet potato, dehydrated blood orange.
Sardinia is represented by a bowl of pumpkin gnocchi (a riff on saffron-infused malloreddu gnocchetti maybe), eggplant "bolognese", and what tasted like cumin-spiced black beans, as well as some toothy, not-quite-cooked chickpeas. The eggplant bolognese (hint: from Bologna, which is not in Sardinia) were actually eggplant not-meatballs … though the gnocchi were quite good.
Let's call these Blue Zone bowls rough translations. Inspired-bys.
Powdered matcha (organic, a grade between ceremonial and ingredient grade) features in a "latte" served in a massive miso soup-style bowl. The flavour is seaweedy-umami, and it's best drunk hot; cooling does it no favours.
Other non-caffe lattes include turmeric (pumpkin-yellow and tasting of cinnamon) and beetroot (like a warm beetroot smoothie.)
The real coffee is from Clement – a good choice, though I reckon spoiled by adding nut-based mylk.
Anyway. Welcome to St Kilda. Please check your uptight attitude at the Junction, sir, and get with the clean eating fun. And if someone almost famous swipes a menu off your table, just smile and ask her to pose for an Insta.
Dish … Vegan poached eggs.
Do … Drink the Clement coffee black.
Don't …Take it all too seriously.
Vibe … #cleaneatingfun