Thursday, January 17, 2013

Lentil As Anything

January 9, 2013


Most Melburnians are familiar with the Lentil As Anything not-for-profit organisation and its eateries. They aim for inclusiveness and a sense of community amongst their (largely volunteer) staff and their diners, who are asked to pay what they feel at the end of their meal.


We visited the now-defunct Lentil As Africa when we first moved to Melbourne, tried the St Kilda restaurant the following year, and met fellow food bloggers at the Abbotsford Convent buffet in 2008. Another Outspoken Female recently mentioned to us what a good meal she'd had at the latter location, so we stopped by to fill up before a film at the Shadow Electric.

Past issues with unexpected ingredients have been addressed well. Everything's vegetarian and each dish at the buffet has a label with its name and key dietary pointers (vegan, gluten-free, nuts, etc.). It was majority vegan and gluten-free on this night.


The food has a home-cooked, comforting style. I tried a little bit of everything - three Indian-style curries, aromatic rice, a chickpea salad and my favourite: rosemary-spiked roasted potatoes.


For dessert there was a fluffy and sweet banana cake.


The biggest challenge of our visit proved to be Lentil's popularity! Arriving at around 6:40pm on a Wednesday, Michael grabbed one of the few remaining outside tables while I joined the queue for food. By the time I'd shuffled through the buffet, the line had tripled in length and when we were scheming of seconds it had grown further still, snaking all the way outside and onto the footpath. Instead we decided to surrender our table and sneak a crepe at the cinema.

Though we didn't quite manage to eat our fill, it's heartening to see Lentil As Anything thrive at the relatively isolated Convent.

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Anh has written about volunteering at Lentil As Anything.

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Lentil As Anything
1-3 St Heliers St, Abbotsford
9419 6444
veg food: pay as you feel

Accessibility: I think entry is relatively flat, although the floor may be uneven. The self-serve buffet was very crowded, as are the tables. (There is some scope to move tables and make space outside.) We donated money on entry at a low-ish table and served ourselves. We didn't visit the toilets.

4 comments:

  1. I've always wanted to try Lentil, but the "pay as you feel' thing kinda puts me off. I understand that it's a great idea for people who can't afford to eat out much, and it's a great way of ensuring food/service goodness, but no matter what I'd pay, I'd feel guilty!!

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    1. Hi Matt - it does play on one's attitude towards money, doesn't it?

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  2. I love lentil so much! Have been a few times now and my experiences are very much in line with yours - wonderful wholesome food, well labeled but soooo overwhelmingly busy! We went to the Footscray branch last time which was far less crowded but also had a much smaller buffet :)

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    1. Hi AA! I've never been to the Footscray one. I think my next priority is actually brunch, though. :-)

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