New Year’s Day for some usually means a lack of sleep, splitting alcohol-induced headache and hazy memory to match. Alternatively, it means the chance to be woken by Melbourne’s mild sunny weather on a day off work for a drive through The Dandenongs and a spot of brunch. One of the only places open in Belgrave on this fine, public holiday morning is Evolve Fair Food Store.
After meandering through the hillside village of Belgrave in Melbourne’s outer east, brunch goers only need to follow Monbulk Road for a couple more kilometres before reaching Evolve. Evolve Fair Food Store is nestled right next door to the Sherbrooke Art Society in a converted cottage with a roving verandah, where fair-trade meals are being served up to hungry hoards. This bespoke destination takes full advantage of its curbside appeal, giving diners a fresh outlook into surrounding Sherbrooke Forest. The main road and subsequent traffic turns out to be a visual illusion, and guests who while their late mornings away here do so indoors with next to no noise.
Guests are greeted by cheery bunting along the verandah, while polished timber boards and white accents throughout make for a fresh and inviting dining space. The walls are graced by paintings of local artisans and each room of the house has been dutifully furnished with retro pieces. The sun shines through wide windows and it’s these windows that offer the promise of a cosy, rainy coffee session later in the year when the weather decides to head south.
The team at Evolve are ever so friendly and inviting, and this homely approach stretches right through its pleasing menu. Ingredients used by the talented kitchen are sourced locally, ethically and sustainably. Who would’ve thought the soy milk to make my comforting chai latte is produced in Drouin? The surprises don’t end there. My hunger pangs are lively, so the Paleo Power Breakfast is the unassuming choice today.
The meal is offered in a vegan version (sans eggs) and the portion is well above what my hunger is calling out for. There’s a vine of plump, juicy grilled cherry tomatoes aside a generous smash of avocado. Wilted kale brings to my plate the greenery it deserves, while the juicy Portobello mushroom beneath is tender and full-bodied. A scattering of dukkha across the plate gives the meal an added crunch, though the true hero on the plate is Evolve’s beetroot relish – a mound of rich, purple beetroot flesh studded with plump sultanas and a zing to brighten any casual morning.
While the Paleo Power Breakfast would be more than ample, we simply can’t leave without devouring a serve of crispy, golden crumbed mushroom morsels served with a plant-based herbed mayo. There is an enticing dessert cabinet not too far away from our table and a slice of raw caramel slice is singing to me. Though, it’ll have to wait until next time – my belly has called it a day.
Meander up The Dandenongs to Evolve Fair Food Store, 64-68 Monbulk Road Belgrave Victoria 3160. Phone: 03 9754 1437. Open Tuesdays to Sundays 8am to 5pm. Be sure to leave a little time afterwards to peruse their gift shop too.
Make your trip to The Dandenongs last a little longer…
· Go shopping for a lovely, and unique, pair of shoes in Belgrave at Passion for Shoes
· Get close with nature on a bushwalk at Grant’s Picnic Ground
· Score some local treats at the Belgrave Big Dreams Market on the second Sunday of each month
· Venture into the neighbouring village of Olinda and visit the National Rhododendron Garden