As Australia’s culinary capital, Melbourne is spoilt for choice when it comes to great food. Many restaurants are now making a conscious effort to adopt a more sustainable approach, from the sourcing of local produce to waste minimisation and fair trade practices. Here are Melbourne’s top six sustainable eateries:
South of Johnston
So much more than a café, South of Johnston is a community hub that believes wholeheartedly in sustainability. Local residents are encouraged to pick fruit as they pass through the urban orchard out front and the seasonal menu is crafted in support of local, boutique suppliers. In 2015, Sojo installed 40 solar panels which generate 60% of the café’s electricity. The café also serves delicious brunch options, free trade coffee, and dogs are welcome.
Located on Bourke Street, Kinfolk is a social enterprise that serves up Small Batch coffee and generous helpings of social inclusion. The seasonal menu champions locally grown, organic, biodynamic, and fair-trade products. Supported by volunteers, 100% of profits are redistributed to charities including The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre and the Cathy Freeman Foundation through the coffee bean voting system. To date, more than $200,000 has been donated.
Attica is a fine-dining experience like no other where diners are challenged gastronomically and there is no need to stand on occasion. Inspired by New Zealand’s Taranaki region, Ben Shewry’s Attica is highly regarded as one of Australia’s best restaurants. The evocative and sustainably sourced menu embraces often overlooked native Australian ingredients. On the pass you’ll find dishes including Emu Liver Bagel, Saltwater Croc Ribs, and Black Ant Lamington.
Translating to green table, Mesa Verde is a Mexican-inspired cantina with a green conscience. Not only does the cocktail bar boast one of Australia’s largest collections of tequila and mezcal, but they’re also home to Melbourne’s only rooftop worm farm. Their sustainable approach to waste management allows them to turn vegetable scraps into fertiliser which in turn is used to grow herbs and vegetables on-site ensuring the menu is always fresh and fiery.
Blurring the lines between café and restaurant, Higher Ground is an innovative venue where sustainability and interior aesthetics’ coexist. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Executive Chef Paul Bongiovanni’s menu features locally grown produce designed to surprise and delight the palette. In addition to the impressive menu, Higher Ground is also home to 20 Hungry Bin worm farms which house 100,000 wriggling recyclers – the largest worm farm in Melbourne’s CBD.
Pope Joan has recently been resurrected on Collins Street after the beloved café closed its doors in Brunswick East last year. Just like the original, there’s a strong emphasis on Chef Matt Wilkinson’s paddock to plate philosophy. The all-day menu is peppered with Victorian produce and brings together old favourites such as their signature sandwiches along with new creations as well as the addition of a cake trolley.
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