What do you expect to find in a supermarket carpark? Cars, trolleys, a rubbish skip and maybe some delinquent kids? Certainly not the coolest cafe-in-a-brick-shed in town.
Monk Bodhi Dharma sounds like the temple for some Eastern cult, but in fact it’s a fabulous rustic cubbyhouse cafe nestled away from the bright flourescence of the nearby Woolworths. It takes a bit of finding but is well worth the search.
The vegetarian kitchen specialises in healthy eating and kick-ass coffee and tea. The cafe drinkers amongst my friends loved the smooth and creamy inhouse coffee blends. Being the outcast non-coffee drinker, I went for the chai latte, a very spicy mix steeping an unexpected heat into the soy milk. It came presented in a lovely Japanese glazed earthenware teapot and a hand-warming handleless tea cup.
The stripped back brickwork and imposing communal table Where’s makes the space cosy for the people supping on the special stews and soups and the standard menu extending from breakfast to 3pm through to lunch. I went for the Mexican bean mix and crusty seeded bread, a filling and warming dish enhanced by the fiery homemade chilli jam.
J’s banana bread was moist and studded with walnuts while the accompanying lemon ricotta was an indulgent yet light spread.
In need of dessert, I decided to backtrack to the breakfast options to order the Madagascan French Toast ($16). It’s quite appropriate as a dessert – a very sweet mix of eggy bread flavoured with cinnamon and cardamom served with sticky poached pear, that moreish lemon ricotta again, crushed pistachios and drizzled with syrup. It was delicious but my one complaint is that I didn’t like the baguette used to make the French toast, as it was very hard to cut through the crust and overly chewy.
Service was super-friendly and the waitress was very understanding and accommodating of the various accroutrement of new mothers – prams, capsules and nappy bags.
A nice final touch came with the bill – their business card not only lists their contact details, but recommends other places around Melbourne that they like (including Auction Rooms, De Clieu, Proud Mary and Three Bags Full). I love a place that spreads the love!
For more reviews, check out Espresso Melbourne, Where’s the Beef and Backseat Baristas. Monk Bodhi Dharma occasionally hold breakfast degustations which sounds like a good reason to get out of bed and cross town – read Eat, Drink, Stagger to find out more.