Food: Get along while the weather’s still warm

Footy is back! And for me it couldn’t have come sooner. Finally an end to a seemingly never-ending pre-season of running, swimming, cycling, boxing, wrestling, tackling, biathlons, triathlons, weights and of course football sessions. But most importantly, as a Richmond player, it’s a chance to make amends for a rough 2009 season.

One of the greatest toils in life, at least for me, would have to be trying to drag oneself out of bed on a frosty, dark and wet — in other words a “typical Melbourne” — winter morning. Training in such conditions leaves a lot be desired. Then there are the cold, dull, uneventful evenings where your best bet is to lock yourself in doors.

But before we all succumb to the drudgery of winter I thought I would share some of my preferred summer cafes and restaurants where you can sit out and enjoy the morning sunlight or evening warmth.

One of my favourite restaurants, for any time of the year but especially in the warmer months, is Soul Mama, which is situated right on the beach above the St Kilda Sea Baths on Jacka Boulevard. Some of the best bay views in Melbourne are matched with some of the freshest and most flavoursome foods in town.

Those who know a little about Soul Mama would know it is a vegetarian restaurant. Yep, no meat. Now don’t get me wrong; I love a tender juicy steak as much as the next guy and prior to my first dinning experience here I was very sceptical of what I would find. But since that time I have never looked back and have subsequently discovered other great vegetarian restaurants around town that I frequent.

The buffet-style system at Soul Mama makes it much easier for those who are accustomed to have more than vegies on offer, as you get to see all the food in front of you before you decide. Basically, you order either a medium or large bowl, which consists of rice plus four or five choices from the buffet. The food is regularly changed but includes curries, stir-fries, pizzas, lasagnes and pastas, salads, dahl and much, much more. Another bonus is the range of drinks and cocktails that are as classy as the venue itself. Also it would be wise not to make the same mistake I made by wearing a leather jacket to a vegetarian restaurant. Not that there’s a rule against it, but vegetarian types don’t tend to look kindly on poor treatment of animals!

Overall I give Soul Mama a 4.5/5.

Another local summer favourite of mine is Olmecs Café at 410 Bridge Road, Richmond. This café/bar/bakery is perfect on a warm evening for a snack, drink or dinner while watching the hustle and bustle of Bridge Road pass by. The food is modern Australian, which strangely enough has nothing to do with meat pies, sausage rolls or barbecues. Instead it’s a combination of flavours and dishes from all over the globe with an Australian touch. What that Australian touch is I’m not quiet sure, but it all tastes great. The menu even includes gluten-free options, perfect for any couple who can never agree on where to go for lunch or dinner!

My personal favourites on a hot day are the refreshing smoothies. The only downside is having to occasionally put up with slow and semi-competent staff, but what they lack in performance they tend to make up for with cool, foreign backpacker accents.

It’s open from 7:30am till late every day so get along while the sun still shines!

Oh and I’d give Olmecs a 3.5/5

Happy eating!


  1. John Butler says

    Thanks for the tips Jacko.

    On a personal playing note, well done for a wholehearted effort against the tide in the season opener.


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