On Saturday we hit the Queen Victoria Markets. A cafe breakfast is our usual precursor but with a fine home-made one under our belts, we made our trip later and stopped by Invita for lunch. This is an outdoorsy vegetarian cafe, perched along the market's Therry St side, where what you see is what you get. You order and pay at the counter and find a seat where you can. Most of the menu items are pre-made and visible in their display case with the full ingredient list marked on every item - super-helpful for all manner of dietary requirements!
Michael zeroed in rapidly on the Vegani pie ($9.80, including salad), a spelt-based crust stuffed with tofu and a variety of vegetables with a small amount of spiced coconut gravy.
It's no meat-pie imitator, but tasty on its own terms. Michael complimented the salads between mouthfuls -a bean mix, a green salad, and a hspicy carrot one with enough sauce to carry across the whole plate.
Having ingested a hearty savoury breakfast and more recently caught wafts of the market's jam doughnuts in the air, I ate cake. The Chocolate Cake Especial ($5.95) had a nice density to it, and reminded me of the simple iced chocolate cake that my mum most commonly made for birthdays when I was a kid. The ingredients list, though, was almost entirely different! Though it's based on chickpea flour, almond meal, soy milk and vegetable oil, its vegan and gluten-free status could easily fly under the radar. My chai latte ($3.40) was pretty good too.
Invita really hit the spot for us on this visit. While it's totally vegetarian and has lots of healthy options, it's not too crunchy - I imagine that the well-stocked display case attracts plenty of omni eaters on their market rounds, too. Umbrellas and partitions offer only a little shelter from bad weather and market bustle, but it's a nice spot to rest your weary legs and fill your stomach before heading home and filling your fridge with Queen Vic produce.
You can read about our first visit to Invita here. Everyone else blogging Invita since has enjoyed it though many note minor flavour flaws, see tummyrumbles.com, The Daily Veg, bellygood.net, Vegetarian Life Australia, We Dare Food and Green Gourmet Giraffe.
76 Therry St, Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne
cakes $3.50-6, veg lunches $9-14
Accessibility: This cafe has the same flat paving as the pedestrian walk out front. Tables have average-to-crowded spacing; ordering and payment occurs at the counter. There's no directly attached toilet, look elsewhere around the Queen Victoria Markets.