Celebration at Charcoal Lane

Standing outside Charcoal Lane‘s tall yellow doors.

On the weekend, I had a celebration at a restaurant in Fitzroy, Melbourne called Charcoal Lane. It was a very good afternoon. The service, food and venue were excellent.

If you’re in Melbourne wanting some native Australian food with a difference, come to Charcoal Lane. It’s a social enterprise run by Mission Australia, employing and training First Nations and disadvantaged young people.

The address, 136 Getrude Street, has history. From a review in The Age Good Food Guide online in 2012:

“It’s a Gertrude Street landmark, a big, whitewashed bluestone number, strong and streamlined, built in 1865, originally as a bank, before becoming a post office, a medical clinic and, finally, in the 1970s, an Aboriginal health service, which it remained until 1992. The redeveloped interior, designed by Tandem architects, has a modish black-and-white colour scheme and a striking diamond-design bamboo floor.

Fittings are contemporary without being lavish, and the subtle placing of indigenous art alludes to the building’s recent history and its ongoing role in Aboriginal health. (The restaurant takes its name from an Archie Roach song about an Aboriginal meeting place in the Fitzroy-Collingwood area.)”

It is indeed a gorgeous old building. We used the courtyard for our event, which had room to move as well as plenty of tables and chairs to sit around and talk.

As well as eat, of course. The food was divine. We had a menu of canapes:

  • Native flavoured toast: char-grilled kangaroo, native tomato relish
  • Roasted pumpkin & capsicum frittata: pepperleaf & goats cheese
  • Crocodile & mixed vegetable spring roll: davidson plum sauce
  • Red lentil polpetti: lemon tea tree oil
  • Crispy lemon myrtle: green curried chick pea balls, wild lime sauce
  • Pork & fennel sausage rolls: tomato relish
  • Lumberjack cake: dates, apple, muntrie berry, strawberry gum leaf & butterscotch icing

Plus a made-to-order lemon aspen sponge cake. (Three layers with some sort of jam & cream in-between each, buttery icing with coconut and candied lemon aspen rind.) All was delicious, in different ways. The flavours within each dish complemented each other well.

Everyone enjoyed themselves, from the adults to the children. I’ve heard the phrase before that the best things in life are experiences, not things (or something like that). Well, Charcoal Lane, you certainly provided that on Saturday. I’d go there again, anytime.

Come for the feel-good idea; stay for the food and atmosphere! Pick Charcoal Lane, you won’t be disappointed.



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