The car-loving community’s loss is the brunch and coffee brigade’s gain with the Old Garage cafe serving up Middle Eastern spiked dishes, along with plant-based alternatives on all menu items and even canine treats.
Location: 2A Glen Iris Rd, Camberwell, VIC 3124 Ph: (03) 9889 2327
You’re probably aware that Camberwell and its surrounds have a lot of good cafes. So why should you pop the Old Garage on your must-try list?
Well, for 2 main reasons.
Firstly, the team in the kitchen can adapt anything you fancy on the menu to a fully plant-based option. Now there are a lot of eateries out there these days offering exciting vegetarian and vegan dishes. And there are also a number of venues that serve solely vegan fare. However, its great to find somewhere that embraces veggie diners by giving them the same meals as everyone else, only plant-based.
Secondly, if you have a dog, your four-legged friend will get a warmer welcome than you! Well. Not quite, but almost. You see the people at the Old Garage cafe love their pooches so much that our doggy friends even have their on section on the menu. How cute it that?
Oh. And the coffee and food are top notch.
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Once a garage – hence the name – and petrol station, the Old Garage sits at the top of Glen Iris Road, Camberwell. In fact, it’s tucked in next to the Running Postman Wine Bar, just a few steps from Camberwell Road.
The original, red brick facade of the previous business remains, fashionably distressed and oozing character. A smart, white picket fence separates the cafe’s outdoor seating area from the rest of the pavement. A board on the wall lets passersby know what drinks they can order from the service window and a summery yellow and white awning adds a splash of candy-striped cover.
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However, the most delightful thing about the outside of the Old Garage is the mural on the external side wall. Showing a cow, dog, pig and blonde-haired girl it asks: If not now, when? If not me, who? A clue to the animal-friendly ethos at work inside the eatery’s walls and kitchen.
Inside, the scarred brickwork continues.
The floor is polished concrete, complimented by mushroom banquettes along the right hand wall. Wooden tables, black chairs and a couple of communal benches fill the dining room. During the renovation from garage to cafe, the owners made the wise move to keep the vaulted ceilings and their height makes the space feel open and airy.
Plants, nick-nacks and bottles of wine provide points of interest and the lighting scheme gives a warm glow.
The vibe is chilled and friendly and the wait staff are busy, but cheerily welcoming.
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There is a definite Lebanese-tilt to the menu, and we love it.
All up, menu is pretty comprehensive – covering Breakfast, Lunch and Beverages, along with that special dog-focused selection.
And as mentioned above, anything from the regular menu can be transformed into a plant-based option without any trouble at all.
If you love the fragrance and spice of Lebanese food, see our piece on The Best Middle Eastern Food and Restaurants in Melbourne
Whilst an Acai Granola Bowl ($18.5) is always a welcome, we’re more excited about the Kanefi Bircher Muesli ($18.5). This Middle Eastern-inspired bowl comes with House Made Bircher Muesli & Butter Biscuit Crumble, Poached Pear, Labneh, Pistachio and a perfumed drizzle of Attar.
At the Old Garage, you can keep it light with their Breakfast Sliders ($14). A Brioche Bun filled with Egg Scramble, Tomato Relish, Spinach and either Crispy Bacon or Smoked Salmon. Alternatively, they do a very likeable Breakfast Taco ($23). Three Soft Corn Tortillas stuffed with a Scramble and Hash Mix, dressed in Gorge Jones and Lime. It makes us wonder why more places don’t offer tacos for brekkie.
But our go to is the Corn, Cauliflower, & Halloumi Fritters ($24).
Flame Roasted Corn combined with Cauliflower and Halloumi in a light batter, and finished with Pico de Gallo. You can add a Poached Egg for $3, or Avocado for $4. It’s bright and tasty and the perfect way to ease yourself into the day.
The lunchtime offerings lean more towards bread-based favourites.
There are a number of Burgers, including the punchy The Dirty South ($23). This stacked Brioche Bun features Crispy Fried Chicken in a Southern Spice blend, Red Cabbage Slaw and Chipotle Mayo. There’s also a portion of Peri Peri Fries on the side. As ever, our vegan friends are forgotten. The Beyond Basic ($23) is a burger built around a Beyond Meat Patty with Provolone Cheese, Lettuce, Tomato and House Made Relish. And those Peri Peri Fries make a welcome return.
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If a Burger is too much, there’s also a number of Toasties and Sandwiches. It’s good to see a Chicken Club Sandwich ($23) again after what seem like an age. The one at the Old Garage cafe has Shredded Chicken Breast in a House Made Club Sauce, Lettuce, Tomato and Crispy Bacon all on Toasted Sourdough. Yum.
Another noteworthy lunch dish is the Epic Mac And Cheese ($19). This is a rich, gooey tumble of pasta tubes in a Three Cheese Truffle Sauce. And if you’re looking to up the fish in your diet, the Crispy Skin Grilled Salmon ($28) is for you. Perfectly pink in its yielding centre, the Salmon is topped with a lively Salsa Verde and reclines on a bed of Parsnip Puree.
Anywhere where the serving window is busy with early morning customers has to be a good sign. Such is the case at the Old Garage.
The cafe has it’s own Coffee Blend ($4.5) and a large range of Teas ($4.5), as well as Iced and Hot Chocolate ($5.5).
On the Smoothie front, we’ve particularly into The Nutty Professor ($11). Tasting more like a liquid dessert and a drink, it’s thick with Nutella, Peanut Butter, Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and Banana. There is also a bespoke array of Fresh Juices ($9).
The Old Garage cafe has amassed a loyal clientele thanks to its fresh spin on breakfast and lunch classics.
Throw in a genuine desire to care for plant-based eaters and an open affection for canines and it’s easy to see why so many wander up Camberwell Road for brunch.