843 High Street
(03) 9480 2333
The final part of our girly weekend found us in rather cooler weather than we had experienced the previous day, and as we headed out to Thornbury for Women of Letters we were on the lookout for somewhere cozy and warm to have lunch. We’ve all had that annoying experience where you just need to eat and there’s nothing available, or you pick a venue or meal that looks good only to discover it just doesn’t suit your needs at that point. This day was the complete opposite; one of those dining experiences where you just find exactly what you’re looking for, when you didn’t even know you were looking for it.
Scouring through my new Cheap Eats guide, we found cozy little Northern Soul: a long, narrow dining space with a mixture of communal and individual tables and a mixed clientele too. From a quick survey of the room, it seems that business people and mothers and their children enjoy this place equally, the free wifi and family friendly service appealing to all – note the high chair that was brought out for a baby by a sweet waitress who anticipated this need rather than having to be asked.
Pumpkin dhal and roti ($9.00)
This was a big steaming bowl of quite possibly the best dhal I have ever had. Really strong, intense flavours, soft lentils and vegetables combined with that big bunch of fresh coriander – every single bite was interesting. It’s deceptive in size – although my eyes are always bigger than my stomach – and left me very happy and full.
The rest of the lunch menu, written up on the blackboard, is a mix of soups, pies, stews and other hearty dishes, all averaging around $10-$12. Breakfast is on offer too, an all day menu covering the basics plus dishes featuring home made baked beans, cheesy polenta and even black pudding. With no menu item more expensive than $15 on either menu, it’s amazing value for the quality, variety and size of the dishes.
It had been a pretty boozy weekend and we both thought we’d continue on at lunch, but when we got there and saw the list of teas available suddenly that sounded like a better idea. I drank “Dusk”, a delicious, calming lavender tea that can be served with or without milk. The tea is sold in take home packs for about $16 from the cafe and is blended by local naturopath, Lea Morgan
Northern Soul’s great food, cheap prices and lovely wait staff make for a great little cafe at any time, but I think the way we did it was perfect: cozy in the corner on a cold, dreary morning with the Sunday papers, a good cup of tea and a big bowl of something warm and comforting.
A few other notable stops during our afternoon in Thornbury: the Thornbury Theatre, the home of Women of Letters and a beautiful old building with a well stocked bar; and Umberto, a cute little family run Italian restaurant where we stopped for one final coffee before home time, and drooled over the menu of house made pastas and authentic family recipes. It’s an eclectic little part of town with unique shops and eateries that we enjoyed a lazy afternoon in; the perfect finish to our weekend.