123 Hardware Street Melbourne, VIC 3000
IT'S AN ALL-STAR CAST AT SILO BY Joost, a zero-waste, two-month-old CBD cafe with exceptionally good food.
Headlining the act is Joost (rhymes with ''toast'' ) Bakker, the Dutch-born eco-artist and vertical garden creator, with an inspiring - not preachy - commitment to sustainability and design.
There is Danny Colls, with an arsenal of hospitality experience from cafes including Federal Coffee Palace and Cafe Racer, and young gun chef Douglas McMaster, with six years at Michelin-starred European kitchens, including London's St John (a proponent of nose-to-tail dining) and stages (internships) at a number of the World's 50 Best Restaurants from Noma to Attica. And that's not even mentioning barista-manager Trent Heffer and the rest of the capable, mostly male crew.
All this talent packed into one long, skinny, 20-seater space makes for a creative, exciting dining experience, with most of the action centred around the high communal table that runs the length of the open galley kitchen.
McMaster can tell you a story about every ingredient on the short menu and has visited each one's source. Almost everything is sustainable, organic, biodynamic and of local origin.
All of Silo's organic waste goes into a $32,000 dehydrator that converts 100 kilograms of matter into 10 kilograms of fertiliser, for use by the restaurant's producers or by Bakker on his Mansfield farm. No other rubbish is brought in; milk comes in 20-litre stainless steel kegs from Schulz Organic Farm and suppliers use recycled crates.
Each ''simple'' dish is mindblowing. All are served in Bakker-designed, flowerpot-shaped terracotta crockery, or glass jars.
Celeriac soup is lushly textured, with slow-cooked onions and brown butter sauce - the butter hand-churned in house.
Brown rice is turned into a saucy, buttery, loose risotto, magnificent with eight-hour-cooked caramelised onions, springy wild oyster mushrooms, soft quark (cow's milk curd) and some edible wild flowers.
Try the ''leek, egg yolk, seeds'' (although McMaster was substituting leek for asparagus this week), which involves 62-degree Green Eggs (cooked for about an hour in an immersion circulator, like a sous-vide), with a startlingly good house ''mustard ketchup'', scattered with toasted seeds and roasted leek. Wow.
The coffee is full-bodied blend of beans from Panama, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. Sweets such as shortbread and tarts are made from freshly milled flour and more hand-churned butter. You can taste the love.
If this is the future of eating out, count me in.
Silo by Joost
Address: 123 Hardware Street, city, 9600 0588, silobyjoost.com
Open: Mon-Sat, 7am-4pm
Do ... Marvel at the understated sustainable ethos
Don't ... Expect a seat immediately - the place is tiny
Dish ... Already with a cult following, the ''4 Grains, beetroot, avocado'' is an ultra-healthy, superfood-style salad with red and French green lentils, farro and quinoa. Foraged dune spinach is tossed in, plus avocado and beetroot, dressed with top-quality oil.
Vibe ... Low-lit, relaxed and a bit smug, like you've discovered a superb dining secret
Prices ... Breakfasts, $7-$14; lunches, $9.50-$14; mains, $14-$19; sweets, $2-$3
Cards ... Amex MC V eftpos
Licensed ... Yes