What a crazy little place! You’d never just walk past Monk Bodhi Dharma and go in – you have to actually search for it.
I had this cafe on my Foursquare watch list for quite some time now and might have walked past it a million times without noticing it. Located on Carlisle Street in Balaclava, Monk Bodhi Dharma is situated in the “backyard” of another larger building and right next to the Coles car park. And if it weren’t for a few stools outside you still would walk passed it and wonder where it is.
Once you’ve found it, the first thing you notice is the coziness of the place. It’s one of your typical Melbourne cafe’s with a little warehouse / Industrial / vintage / neighbourhood cafes with communal tables, and a true love to details when it comes to interior design. I felt instantly at home.
The fact that Monk Bodhi Dharma only serves vegan and vegetarian breakfast and lunch options makes it even more special for me. Despite my thinking that Monk Bodhi Dharma is underrated, it does tend to get quite packed around lunch time and it seems that it is getting busier each day.
If you find yourself sitting on one of the tree trunk stools with a rumbling stomach can I give you one suggestion: “The Avo”. What is it? Oh, well, it’s just a MOUNTAIN of smashed avocado with all the trimmings: feta, lemon, chilli, etc.
I hadn’t tried it the first time I was there but saw it at the table and was all like: “OMG! I have to have it!” After a few days I came back and I can truly and honestly say it is my favourite lunch served from their kitchen and I have a feeling that it is the favourite lunch of a lot of other people as well. You can’t get in this place at lunch time without seeing someone enjoying this dish to the last delicious bite.
The sandwiches, pastry and muffins are to die for as well. Basically everything is just simply delicious!
The coffee is up there with Market Lane, Saint Ali, Small Batch, Proud Mary and Seven Seeds. It is my personal favourite and I actually place it above all of those very big, very prestigious names. I know, big call, but the coffee here is just… perfect. All the coffee is single origin ristretto style from El Salvador, Guatemala, Kenya and Ethiopia just to name a few. There are four grinders on every day, each full of unique beans that cover the entire spectrum of coffee goodness.
The staff is so friendly and hospitable, they really help you with your choices, recommend things that will compliment your meal or your coffee and know their products well!
All I can say, just try it yourself and you’ll see why it was love at first bite for me.
Monk Bodhi Dharma
Rear 202 Carlisle St
Balaclava, 3183, VIC