My friend Sara is moving to LA soon so she's a bit sad that she's only just discovered Monk Bodhi Dharma cafe. I'm a bit sad that Sara's moving but that's another story.
Tucked down a lane behind one of the stupormarkets on bustling Carlisle Street in Balaclava this cafe is easily missed by those not in the know. As you may have inferred by the name, their menu is focused on vegetarian and vegan food with ayurvedic properties. Translation: it's good for you. It's also filling and pretty damn tasty too. Each day there are various soups and stews on offer for lunch as well as plenty of hearty breakfast fare even without eggs and bacon. (And, there's always super pretty cupcakes on the counter as you walk in the front door, so steel your self-control upon entering if you're trying to be good.)
The premises itself is quite small but the space is well used with a beautiful communal table as the centerpiece and fresh flowers poking out of vases strung from the ceiling. Even the menus are pretty, printed on floral Japanese paper.
I've visited a fair few times recently and have indulged in the world's biggest and most moist piece of banana bread with lemon ricotta and a Moroccan-style stew with chickpeas, minted couscous and some bitey sweet chili relish.
The Monk also roast their own coffee, serve syphon and have a comprehensive list of fairtrade and organic teas on offer. The tea infusion is very precise and the pots and cups differ depending on which one you choose. My most recent choice was based solely on the name - Iron Goddess - which hadn't even made it onto the menu yet.
Regular breakfast degustation mornings are held and you can keep an eye on their blog for other events. I'm also pleased to report that if you forget your re-usable coffee cup and have to have a takeaway it will be served in a biodegradable cup.
Visit the Monk for holistic hospitality at it's best.