In Short: One of the best cafes in Melbourne period! Sensational coffee, thoughtfully partnered vegan inspired dishes with touches of northern Asia in a space that is cosy, comfortable and peaceful. Definitely have your favourite style of coffee, be it an espresso or flat white and try a pour over for sure.
It was refreshing to spend a week in Melbourne. There is nothing like visiting a city such as Melbourne that uniquely contrasts with Sydney. Take for instance Balaclava. It is hard to find a Sydney equivalent. It’s not too far from the bay and equidistant to Melbourne CBD. A mix of Victorian and Edwardian architecture transports visitors back to a vintage bygone era. Carlisle Street runs through the middle of Balaclava, yet you could drive up the length and not see Monk Bodhi Dharma.
It’s nestled in a brick cabin on the corner of Chapel and Carlisle street. Walking up to Monk Bodhi Dharma and if you are not Melbourne local you might not get it. Distressed brick walls with in-cohesive motifs of street art dominated by a pink haired monk in a lotus pose, may be the only nod to what may be going inside. Walk through the door though, and I felt like being transported to a warm, cosy cabin in northern Asia. It’s a small space which I can imagine would quickly fill on a Saturday. Luckily we popped in mid morning on a Monday and shared the space with a couple other diners. All those who do make it in for a coveted space are seated just a couple metres from the espresso machine and the kitchen. Aromas of freshly roasted coffee beans from the roasting facility permeate through the cafe and delivers a zen like atmosphere to dine in.
Speaking of coffee, I was itching to try Monk Bodhi Dharma’s coffee. While I have had many a flat white at the cafe, it was my first opportunity to try one of their Pour Overs. On the weeks rotation was a Rwandan Andre Hakizmana. Beans that were cultivated at an elevation of 2000 metres above sea level. At Monk Bodhi Dharma v60 pour over is used to brew the coffee. Presented in a beautiful wine glass, it is an exquisite prelude to the tasting. And the result is juicy tropical fruity flavours with a beautiful clean finish.
If you come to Monk Bodhi Dharma looking a fry up, or even eggs done your way, you may be disappointed. This little cafe is unabashedly vegan in its approach, though you will note below, I was able to get some goat feta on my breakfast choice. I am unabashedly not vegan but I enjoyed every little morsel of my meal at the Monk! My choice The Avo. A colour bomb when it was placed it front of me with the green of the avocado and mint, yellow of the lemon and dots of red from the chilli. Cubes of goat cheese feta round out a spectacular looking dish. Tucking in, I enjoyed the well seasoned avocado with the heat from the chilli. Zings of acidity from lemon and herbaceous hit from the mint complete an accomplished take on smashed avo.
Across the table, Steve enjoyed a fibrous hit from the Dresden Granola. Clusters of granola were partnered with raspberry coulis, almond milk and strawberries. It ticks all the boxes. A gentle spiced warmth comes through the granola, with the berries slicing through creaminess of the almond milk.
Now onto to that most perfect Flat White. It was exquisite. Monk Bodhi Dharma roast their own coffee through their Disciple brand. I loved the sweetness of the coffee. It was silky smooth, with a milk chocolate notes. It was a memorable coffee and I can safely say some of the best coffee you will get in the whole city, it really is that exceptional!
When I go to down Melbourne, it usually is a 3-4 coffee day, and for me, at least one of those coffees has to be at Monk Bodhi Dharma. A cosy space that makes it hard to leave. It is a peaceful space the times I have been and its vegan focused food is top shelf! A top echelon Melbourne cafe!