I’m not normally a big fan of gimmicks with restaurants, I like good food, good wine and great company. But The 100 Mile Cafe in Melbourne changed my thinking!
The 100 Mile Cafe is based on the premise that all food and drink served in the restaurant is found within 100 miles. The wine list comprises some of my favourites from the Yarra Valley (Victoria’s best known wine region) but also includes offerings from the Macedon ranges, Geelong and the Mornington Peninsula. They’re open to the fact that some items cannot be found in Victoria- such as the coffee, which is grown in Byron Bay on the coast of New South Wales.
The restaurant is located within Melbourne’s new Melbourne Central complex and overlooks the State Library with it’s floor to ceiling windows. In the summertime, patrons can sit on the balcony and enjoy the views!
Due to the original premise, there is a large emphasis on sustainable living and the eco friendly lifestyle. The restaurant features natural woods and timbers and even the bathrooms have gone ‘green’. A raised area comprises brochures, leaflets and books such as Al Gore’s “The Inconvenient Truth” and information on sustainable fishing, green events and even tree logging. Upon arriving at your table you’re presented with a map which explains the 100 mile concept and shows you exactly where each ingredient you’ll be eating comes from.
Having dined at the cafe twice now, I almost have a routine down pat. Bread is served for starters, made from local spelt flour and in a variety of flavours- including one which uses Kyneton olive oil.
The entrees and mains have a heavy emphasis on seafood (all seafood served at 100 mile is sustainable) and have an Asian twist to them. (Ingredients include miso, tempura battered zucchini flowers and mirin dashi.) But meat lovers need not fear- there is local scotch fillet, duck and chicken to choose from.
Each dish comes beautifully presented on different shaped pottery plates, in vivid shades of green and subtle beige. Everything feels ‘earthy’ at 100 mile, like you’re getting back to the roots of what good food is all about. There’s no abundance of oil or seasonings- the flavours of the locally grown vegetables and other produce are the statement of the meal. Every dish has a ‘fresh’ and clean taste to it and I feel like I’m eating something not only good for the earth but good for my own well being. .
Dessert is always awaited eagerly whenever Mr Polka Dot and I dine out and the 100 mile cafe has easily ranked on his ‘top restaurants list’ with their divine bitter chocolate fondant. When it arrives he gets the impression it will be cake like texture, one push of his spoon and the hot chocolate centre oozes out like molten lava. This leaves Mr Polka to proclaim we are coming here again – if only for the dessert! I choose something a little lighter – the plate of sorbets. Each has it’s own special flavour – my favourite is the fresh pear.
The service at the 100 mile cafe is attentive and helpful, the staff have obviously embraced the ideals of the restaurant and are more than happy to answer any questions about where the food is grown, sustainable fishing and of course the best choice of wine.
The bill arrives with a treat that essentially wraps up the experience with a nice little bow – a seeded card which allows you to go home and plant a tree, vegetable or in my case a lemon banksia. It’s a little way of letting you take the concept home with you and feel like you’re contributing to sustainable living. Or as their slogan says ‘Think Globally, Eat Locally’.
100 Mile Cafe is a perfect venue for your engagement party or pre wedding function. Catering up to 100 guests seated and more for cocktail functions, if you have international or out of state guests arriving it’s a great way to introduce them to the jewels of Victoria!
100 Mile Cafe
Level 3, Melbourne Central
211 La Trobe St, Melbourne Victoria 3000
P (03) 9654 0808 F (03) 9654 1080