Since I wrote about The Social Studio almost 18 months ago the social enterprise has grown and developed.

In terms of their cafe, it has moved from the back of the studio (where it was cute but small and hidden) to a bigger, brighter and more prominent site right next door. I’m so glad that they’ve taken over the forlorn Eatz and Treatz and jazzed it up to turn it into The Cutting Table. The cafe is part of The Social Studio enterprise and it provides hospitality training, work experience, employment and pathways to employment for refugee youth.

The menu has expanded too to encompass burgers galore. Eight African inspired burgers to be precise – from beef to chicken to lentils to tofu. The burgers are a variation on a theme – some sort of protein filling, some sort of sauce (shiro, spicy lovers sauce or tahini yoghurt), salad and all sandwiched between a Turkish roll. The menu states that all meats are halal and they use free range chicken and free range eggs.

I decided to go for the tofu burger marinated with spicy lovers sauce ($10). The burgers are not for elegant eating – mine was a hefty two-hander containing several slabs of spicy tofu. As with all the burgers it came with a small side of home-style African potatoes which were cold and frankly an unexciting mix of boiled potato, chopped carrot and a very mild sauce. I washed it down a smoothie ($5), a very vibrant purple coloured mix of berries, bananas, oats and cardamom, the spice taking it above the norm.

At lunch time the cafe was fairly busy so there was a bit of a wait on the food, but I would have expected dishes to come out much faster since most menu items were very similar. In fact, if you’re in a hurry at lunch time this is not the place for a quick feed – the service was a little haphazard but I understand that comes with the territory of it being a training business.

Besides the burgers they also have daily specials which commonly feature some sort of African stew. Seeing the other (African) patrons gnawing on drumsticks and cleaning their plates with injera bread makes me think that next time I’m going for the stew.  I also like the idea of returning on a Wednesday night for ‘African night’ which features an Ethiopian coffee ceremony, music and food.

In more Social Studio news, this Thursday 8 September they are launching their Magic Tent Collection at BMW Edge as part of Melbourne Spring Fashion Week. The gala event will feature fashion, food and music and tickets are $55 ($45 for Craft Victoria Members. For more information, click here.

The Cutting Table, The Social Studio, 128 Smith St, Collingwood +61 3 9417 2143

Café hours     7am-4.00pm, Mon-Sat, 6pm-9pm – Wed African Night