Sunday 31 December 2017

Lentil As Anything- awesome food without a specified price

There is no free lunch in this world-  a wise universal truth. Yet there is a place in Abbotsford, an inner Melbourne suburb just 4km away from the city centre that serves awesome vegetarian and vegan food without specified prices. Customers get to enjoy their breakfast, lunch or dinner, served on scrumptious buffet-style on a "pay as you feel" basis, sometimes with the accompaniment of live hippie reggae music or cool guitar strumming.

The food is varied, multicultural, and rarely disappoints. Depending on the day of visit or occasion, customers get to have a taste of Sri Lankan Kothu Roti, Tibetan momo (steamed vegetable dumplings), heartily rich lentil tomato soup, masala spiced potatoes with bright orange pumpkins, Mexican-style slowed cook mushroom, capsicum and beans, and piping hot and creamy vegetarian lasagna. Patrons also get to complete their meals with desserts (usually a really nice piece of simple cake) and a cup of good-old strong coffee of your choice (full cream milk or soy milk).

The queue for food is consistently long, and the atmosphere around is always jolly good and lively. The restaurant operates on an honourable code that everyone deserves a place at the dining table, regardless of your financial status or bank balance. Hence the customers' types are as varied as the options of foods, and we get to sit side by side sometimes with the homeless, the not so well-to-do, casual tourists, the hippies, the rich or family with kids that just did their tour at the adjacent Collingwood Children's Farm. A unique business structure like this is almost bound to experience occasional (if not frequent) cash flow issues and financial roughness. A simple Google search on the establishment will lead us to news and web pages talking about how the system has been exploited by certain patrons who use the place as a way to gain free meals without fear of judgment.

It's rare to see such an interesting not-for-profit organization focuses on serving and doing its best, but relies entirely on the good will and integrity of its customers for its continued survival. Even if we are not in a charitable mood, the great food itself deserves a good decent pay from an honest customer.

Abbotsford Convent, 1/3 Heliers St, Abbotsford VIC 3067

[Updated: This place has now closed its door permanently from Feb 2022] 

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