After a very slow morning in my tutorial of researching dilemmas in journalism, I had finished uni at 11:00am and had the rest of the day to do whatever I pleased. The sun was shining and the thought of going home to complete my assignments (or to exercise) didn’t quite appeal to me as much as lunch in the sun and the potential for a new blog post.
With my sister out to brunch already, I was jealous, and so I called my brother to see if he was free. Sadly, I had forgotten he’s the manager of Cru Wine Bar, and therefore uses his day time to sleep-in and get chores done before he goes off to work for the night. Knowing the chances of calling someone to meet me for lunch within the next hour were pretty slim (as everyone has jobs or goes to uni), I considered taking myself out to lunch. I mean, why not? Treat myself to a delectable meal and a coffee, read the paper and people watch in the sun for an hour or two… and then head home to finish my assignments and exercise (ughhhh).
With a place in mind, I began heading towards Chapel Street. On the way I called to check in with my boyfriend to see how his day was going. Assuming he had been working hard all morning, I was surprised to hear that he was not at home, but in fact out enjoying the beautiful weather playing golf with a mate. I quickly suggested lunch before he got stuck into work for the day, and just like that, I had my perfect lunch date : )
The Mission Cafe was the destination of choice and after coming here a few times, I have grown to really like the place – especially for its significance and cause. The cafe works in conjunction with The Prahran Mission, who’s initiative is “providing emergency relief services to those experiencing poverty, homelessness and economic disadvantage as well as rehabilitation services to those experiencing mental illness and psychiatric disability“. They aim to “challenge stigma and discrimination in order to develop social bridges that create social inclusion in our community”.
(visit http://www.prahranmission.org.au for more information)
Unfortunately, despite having wonderful looking and tasting food, as well a pleasant and funky atmosphere, the staff seemed to damage the experience. Perhaps it was just this particular day – the stress levels were high as the cafe got busier during a crazy lunch hour, and this was communicated by their faces. My understanding is that they were potentially understaffed so we did feel quite neglected waiting to order and receive our food as the focus was put on take aways. Other times however, the staff have been friendly and my experience has been quite pleasant. Having worked in hospitality, I understand and can relate with them that feeling of overwhelming stress. It didn’t affect my judgment, and I will continue to go back for their food and great coffee.
Putting that aside… there were many positives that came from this date. The coffee arrived at the same time, and although taking a while (after all of the take away orders), it was perfect temperature, so I couldn’t complain. The flavour is great (being 5 senses) and the latte art is up to scratch. My favourite thing about this cafe are the odd tea spoons – and on this particular day, I received the best one I had ever seen. Being a christmas fanatic (as it is my favourite time of the year), I was extremely excited to be presented with a Santa spoon alongside my long black!
I know… small things : )
We ordered our usual lunches of choice – steak sandwich and a mixed salad.
Combining the two salads of the day, my plate was very colourful and full of many flavours. From my understanding, it was a broccoli and lentil salad mixed with a couscous andpumpkin salad. Upon inspection, I realised that it was more of a ‘kitchen sink’ sort of dish. If you haven’t heard of this term before, it basically refers to throwing everything together to create a meal, in order to use up what is left. For example, my salad had about 3 walnuts, one pistachio and quinoa mixed through the cous cous. This didn’t annoying me, and I quite enjoyed it. Every mouthful was completely different and it was interesting finding different elements on my plate! My favourite part of the salad was that it used romanesco broccoli – something I have been wanting to try for ages!
I was satisfied for $11, and that’s why the Mission Cafe (alongside Dukes Coffee) are my go-tos for a healthy, delicious lunch!
The grain-fed steak sandwich, complete with tomato chutney, aioli, roquette and fries for $16 looked mouthwatering as it came out with its generous pile of chips and chargrilled bread. I was told it was great value for money, size wise, however it had a few minor imperfections. ‘Slightly heavy on the aioli, the chips and bread were nice, but these were let down by the steak’. It was said to have been clearly ageing, as it didn’t taste fresh – like it had been wrapped up for a few days.
All of this was taken away when we spotted Chris Lilley on the front tables enjoying a bowl of the daily soup. This had been the second time we had seen him on Chapel Street, and we saw it as a sign, so we made a deal. If we were to see him a third time, we must approach him and get footage of his notorious line “Nathan you d***head” from the series We Can Be Heros – as my boyfriends name is Nathan and it is an ongoing joke in our group of friends.
I still recommend giving this one a go if you come across it!! The food and coffee are great – and the staff can be too. Their baguettes in the cabinets are enough to stop you in your tracks, with their generous and appealing fillings. It is an easy spot to stop off for lunch mid-day, and I would much prefer it still than if we went to McDonald’s and got excellent service!