Catching up with the Moody Noodles gave us just the excuse we needed to trek across town to Balaclava for breakfast. Despite Monk Bodhi Dharma's varied vegetarian menu, brilliant coffee and generally good vibes, we're lucky to make the trip more than once a year. We turned up pretty early this Sunday, which meant we could waltz right onto a table without the customary queuing (by the time we left 10:30 or so there was a bit of a line-up by the door).
The menu is all vegetarian and egg-free, with plenty of vegan dishes (in fact, they'll do a vegan version of nearly anything on the menu). It's a pretty sweets-focussed menu, with apple pancakes, breakfast trifle, fruit salad and muelis. So it was somewhat surprising that Cindy went savoury, ordering Marlo sweetcorn ricotta hotcakes with slow roasted cherry tomatoes, basil pesto and sour cream ($16.50).
I think of ricotta hotcakes as being served up with syrup and fruit, so this seems like an odd combo to me. It hit the spot though, with three thick corn-stuffed fritters and abundant condiments she stoically polished off every skerrick seemingly hours after the rest of us were done.
I made speedier work of the umami mushrooms (slow roasted king, shitake, oyster and Swiss brown mushrooms on pumpkin, spinach and sun-dried tomato polenta bread with goats cheese, thyme and red chilli oil, $18.50).
This is all about the mushrooms - rich and hearty with really satisfying savour flavours. The goats cheese provided a bit of salty pungency to cut through, and the dryish polenta bread served as a good mop for all the mushroom juice. An excellent winter brekkie.
Monk Bodhi Dharma is a consistently excellent brunch spot - the coffee was great as always, and the food top notch. Staff are friendly and pretty efficient, churning people through the tiny space without too many problems. We'll be back again... in another year or so.
Our last trip to MBD was for dinner, but we've been semi-regular brunch visitors as well. Since last time, Monk Bodhi Dharma has been enjoyed by Mel to NYC, alextroup, Twelve Days, The Good Hearted, The Coffee Guide and Kish and Co.
Monk Bodhi Dharma
rear of 202 Carlisle St, Balaclava
Accessibility: MBD has a narrow entry with a small step and very cramped interior; most seats are small heavy backless stools.We ordered at the table and paid at a medium-low counter.