I arrived in Melbourne with a backpack full of hippie pants and Thai Baht. I had been told many-a-time that it was an expensive place, but I shrugged it off and arrogantly said “how could it be more expensive than where I’m from?”
Then, I arrived to menus with $20 caesar salads, $3 avocados, $4 bottles of coke (not that I drink the stuff, but dude, seriously!?), $12 Ben & Jerry’s pints, and, worst of all, $20 6-packs of beer!
Each day, the fragile state of my wallet became more dire as the prices of goods in Australia quickly pillaged my hard-earned savings. I simply had to find some reasonably-priced eats, or I was going to blow through my money before I knew what hit me.
A friend of mine from the Pai days told me about a place where the food was based on donation of what one could pay, or what one thought it was worth – Lentil as Anything.
With locations in Abbotsford, Footscray, and St. Kilda in Melbourne, Lentil as Anything was born for starving artists who had unreliable paychecks. Based purely on the volunteered time of cooks and servers and the generosity of patrons, this place runs on the kindness of people like you and me.
Each meal tends to be a curry-based vegetarian dish (typically lentils!) with greens, rice, and toast. They also serve delicious beverages of the coffee and tea variety.
I was so excited and hungry when my food arrived, that I completely failed to take a photo of it. I did, however, manage a photo of our drinks:
We enjoyed meals immensely – I ordered a beetroot curry, and my friend, a chickpea curry. We made our donations in the box prior to leaving. The whole time, I kept feeling completely surprised and bewildered that a place like this could exist, completely reliant upon the generosity of others who could just as easily pay nothing.
The entire concept made me feel slightly better about the dire monetary situation I was finding myself in since leaving cheap Southeast Asia and pausing in Melbourne.
It was a lovely way to spend a Sunday.