Brunch at Lentil as Anything segued into an extended tour for Prince and me around the Convent at Abbotsford. With sweeping grounds, beautiful old trees, several cafes, and buildings with long corridors of office spaces that were formerly nuns’ rooms, Abbotsford is a tranquil haven that seems miles from the madding crowd but is only a 15 minute bus ride from Lygon St. We walked off our brunch by exploring the buildings and the grounds, whiling away several lazy hours.
The premise for Lentil as Anything is a benevolent one. You eat, pay what you can afford, and the money helps train and support those who need it the most. It also allows for people on lower incomes to enjoy a wonderful meal without blowing their budgets. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week, this place is a constant bustle inside and out, and the kitchen churns out a massive amount of vegetarian food. With plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, you can sit and enjoy the offerings prepared by the staff of (mainly) volunteers, and finish it off with a coffee or choice of chai teas.
Breakfast is ordered off the menu, while lunch is buffet style. As we were finishing brunch, people were lining up at the bain maries for lunch. There were noodles, rice dishes, stir fries, various curries and even chocolate pudding.
HRH and I hedged on our choices as they all sounded amazing. In the end we decided to share two dishes so we could sample as much as possible. Corn cakes with Tuscan beans and a fried egg was our first dish, and whilst the corn cakes were a teeny bit hard, they were tasty and the beans were rich and tomatoey. We did experience food envy when we saw several plates of the pancakes with caramel sauce and seared apple coming out, but isn’t this often the way?
We were well impressed with our other dish of Sri Lankan farmer’s dosa with masala potato, yoghurt raita and tomato chutney. Super, super delicious. The chick pea and rice flour dosa that enveloped the mildly spiced potato, was smothered in a creamy saffron-coloured yoghurt sauce and topped with a scrumptiously rich tomato chutney. The combo of all the flavours was superb; I’ve eaten many dosas before but this was outstanding.
Lentil as Anything in Abbotsford serves food with heart, and dining here was a positive experience. Now with four branches in Melbourne, it’s wonderful that the locals support this brilliant and humane enterprise. Bring a book and sit for a few hours enjoying not just the food, but the serene surroundings of the convent. Or bring your pooch and your kids, and stretch yourselves out on the grass for a bit of a lie down after your breakfast indulgence. It’s a feel good experience all round.
“Lentil as Anything Mission: Caring for people: Provide a wholesome and nutritious meal where money is not a concern. Promoting Multiculturalism: Fostering an environment of inclusion and not exclusion. Reforming Society: Acting on the structures of society to restore justice. Extending/Spreading it’s ethos and values: Hiring volunteers, the long-term unemployed and the marginalised. Encouraging: Young people to be active citizens and get involved in community based initiatives.”