Thursday, March 01, 2007

February 25, 2007: Lentil As Anything

As aspiring vegetarian food bloggers, we really should have made more of an effort to review Lentil As Anything some time in our first 150 posts. You'd think a not-for-profit place with no set prices, that has won Australia Day awards would have attracted our patronage by now. Alas, unless you count our breakfast at Lentil As Africa, we failed. With the encouragement of Emma and Simon and their visiting friend Ben, we finally made it there on the weekend. And, unfortunately, it was a little disappointing.

We turned up at around 7 and fortunately snagged a table for five - it's a tiny place, which probably only seats 30 people at a stretch, so we were pretty lucky. The walls are covered with a mixture of artwork and posters for yoga classes, and the general vibe is as hippy friendly as you'd expect. The menu is a fairly impressive list of vegetarian delights - curries, burgers, noodles and other vaguely Asian-inspired options. We started off with a round of mango lassis which, in the idosyncratic manner of the place, required us to relinquish our water glasses as there were insufficient glasses for us to have both water and lassis. The drinks were small but tasty - loaded up with fresh mango, honey and sprinkled with cinammon.

When it was time for eating, I chose a pea and potato curry, served with yoghurt, relish, red rice and roti, while Cindy went for oknomiyaki, topped with tofu mayonaise, pickled ginger, sweet soy and seaweed. The food took ages to come and, after 45 minutes or so, my curry came with neither rice (they'd run out) or roti (no idea why - Ben's was roti-tastic). Still, I could count myself lucky - Cindy's Japanese pancake was nowhere to be found. After waiting for another few minutes, I enquired - unfortunately they'd somehow forgotten it, so Cindy - the slowest eater at the table - was left waiting while the rest of us dug in. By the time her meal arrived, we were all finished and the night had become slightly frustrating. To be fair, despite the lack of rice and roti, my curry was pretty tasty - the potatoes were well roasted, the sauce was spicy and the salad broke up the carbs nicely. And when Cindy's oknomiyaki finally turned up, it was the highlight of the night - piping hot, slightly sweet and delicious. Unfortunately, the kitchen seemed ill-equipped to keep up with demand and it seemed like the gimmick of having no set prices provided a licence to be a bit slapdash with the service. It's a shame, because I was all set to write a rave review of a place with a fantastic menu, great food, ridiculously large portions and a wonderful philosophy, but it all ended up a bit of a let down. Maybe it was karma - fate getting us back for ignoring Lentil as Anything for so long. We'll probably try again at one of the other venues in the future, but with slightly lowered expectations.

Address: 41 Blessington Street, St. Kilda
Ph: 95344844
Unlicensed (there was some evidence of BYOing going on, but I'm not sure if it was entirely legit)
Prices: Whatever you like! They recommend about $7 for mains.
Website: www.lentilasanything.com

14 comments:

  1. Yes, my experiences at both Lygon St and St Kilda have been much the same- usually delicious, but the food so slow to come out that we spend almost the entire time desperately staring at the kitchen in hunger, willing our food to appear. Oh well

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  2. Thanks for your comment! Perhaps our visit was pretty standard rather than an off-night.

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  3. I wonder if sometimes specialty restaurants believe they have already done the hard work just by setting up and totally forget the punters, or maybe they really are hippies!!!

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  4. yeah it wasn't karma for you ... my experience has been the same in st kilda and brunswick. tho i wasn't as big a fan of the food as you either - i thought it was mostly the kind of bastardized versions of asian food that you cook in share houses where there's not much $$ for food. hippy slop would be the unkind description.

    still..i am kinda a food snob and many many people seem to find it worth the wait and all that.

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  5. I guess those hippies just can't be constrained by society's concept of time!

    Thanks, Neil and Esther, for your comments. We heard only great things about Lentil before we visited, but now some other perspectives are emerging!

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  6. You've to try the salad with the tofu if you haven't already- it's the one dish that draws us back to this place time and time again in spite of the waiting time

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  7. Hi, thecoffeesnob! Haven't tried the tofu salad and will definitely keep it in mind if we make it back there.

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  8. my understanding is that the workers are all volunteers, which would explain their lacksadaisical attitude and slow pace of service. it's all good

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  9. Try the weekend lunch at the Convent, they do a buffet (as well as al a carte) I have eaten there several times to great satisfaction. The buffet varies but seems to regularly have curries, with plenty of roti, as well as sushi and other delights.

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  10. Thanks for the recommendation, Jen! We've stopped at the nearby markets before so might make room for lunch next time.

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  11. I TRIED THE CONVENT YESTERDAY AND I AM SOOOOOO IMPRESSED---THE FOOD WAS FRESH AND DELICIOUS---THO IT DOES SOUND LIKE THE FOOD IS EXACTLY THE SAME AT EACH RESTAURANT!
    MY FAITH IN HUMANITY WENT UP ONE NOTCH AS MY SOUL WAS NOURISHED WITH THIS WONDERFUL AND ALTRUISTIC OUTLOOK ON THE NON-CONSUMERIST/NON-PROFIT RESTAURANT!
    MAY THE KARMA NOURISH ALL THAT FREQUENT THESE MOST SPECIAL RESTAURANTS!
    THANK YOU AND YOUR BELIEFS SHANAKA FERNANDO! BLESS YOU!

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  12. hehehe...I work there, I don't know how orders get lost or why. I guess we're just so busy being lovin' n all.

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  13. actually, that was exactly my impression of the St Kilda restaurant, but I recently went to the Abbotsford one, and not only was the service much friendlier and faster, the menu has specials added daily (we went on African Tuesday) and the food seemed fresher. I'd give the Convent one a try before writing off the whole place.

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  14. Cool - thanks, Fiona! It'll be interesting to give it a go and compare.

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