Food, for thought – Lentil as Anything

So Melbourne’s got a pretty good reputation for being a foodie’s paradise. And if you’re into that sort of thing,  there’s a fair share of fancy restaurants serving fancy food, using fancy ingredients, inspired by fancy art. Lentils As Anything is a different kind of inspirational. It’s not just about the food you come here to eat, but the concept you become a part of. With branches in Abbotsford, St Kilda and Footscray, it’s safe to say it’s a concept people genuinely want to be a part of. 

When you sit down to eat here, you’ll notice the simplicity of your surroundings, the diversity of the staff and patrons, then you’ll probably notice that there aren’t any prices on the menu. And not because they’re too embarrassingly high to be there. This is one of the integral aspects of the Lentils as Anything concept – you pay as much as you feel your meal and experience was worth. 

DID SOMEONE SAY FREE FOOD? I admit, that was my first reaction. No, I’m not encouraging that you freeload off this generous, not-for-profit company – but, instead of a bill, you pay in donations. Some would argue it’s the same thing, but there is no rule saying how much you owe. That’s not to say there aren’t expectations though. Signs at the counter informed me to take into account rent, electricity, water and various other costs in running the business. 

I found the internal conflict (melodramatic, much?) I faced when forced to pay incredibly eye-opening. I found myself taking all things into consideration, including meal size, taste, quality of service etc. Looking back at it now, I remember all the times I never batted an eyelid at the bill, particularly when I’m faced with a decision that’s already been made for me. I won’t tell you how much I eventually donated -not because I was a cheapo, but because I wouldn’t want to influence the decision that you ultimately make for yourself. Honest!. Don’t let it scare you though, you just put the donation into a box, no one’s standing around judging you!

The menu consists of a mixture of South Asian, African and Australian cuisine. They only serve vegetarian food and have a mixture of a la carte and buffet serving style (depending on the location). 
The regularly updated menus can be found on their Facebook page here. For more information on the company and the people behind it, including a fascinating timeline of how Lentils as Anything was shaped, visit their website here.

Keep a look out for the wonderful projects they run – they’re always looking for volunteers!

Eat happy, Melbourne.

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LuWOW Weekends

Aloha Melbourne.

So if you’ve been living in Melbourne for a while, you’ve probably heard of outrageous tiki bar, The LuWOW. And if you haven’t, well consider your weekend planned.

Other than literally putting the WOW in Luau, this bar is doing a lot of things right. A lot of nightspots claim to be “different”, but this one that definitely delivers. Wander in here unintentionally one winter evening and you might easily forget you’re in Melbourne. From the over-the-top decor to the embellished cocktails, this is the kind of place you take a lot of pictures.

The atmosphere is fun (how couldn’t it be) and the patrons are friendly (difficult to be obnoxious at a tiki bar). But let’s get down to one of the main reasons people come here – the cocktails. So, The LuWOW is not particularly a budget venue, you can walk in free before 8pm but there is a cover charge afterwards. Cocktails will set you back typically between $15-$25, with everything being rum based to keep with the trend.
I had the Gruesome Grog, three different kinds of rum and a floating eyeball (!) But, my favourite was the coconutty Lava Flow. Expect a little finger puppet or Hula Lady to go with your generously portioned cocktails.

The LuWOW is separated into two venues, the bar at the front called “The Island Village” which is open Wednesday through to Saturday. With its private ‘huts’ and table service (no fighting to get the bartender’s attention!) it’s perfect if you want to have a few drinks before you get into the swing of things.
“The Forbidden Temple” opens up only on Fridays and Saturdays from 9pm, with its own bar, dance floor, stage and army of go-go dancers. There are live acts as well as a DJ, so be sure to check the website for details on entertainment.

They are quite strict on dress code, with this very detailed description of what is not allowed

If you’re looking for something eccentric and quirky, The LuWOW is worth a try. check out their website here.

Address- 62-70 Johnston Street, Fitzroy
Trading days- Wed to Sat (with The Forbidden Temple open only Fri-Sat)
Opening hours- 5pm til late
Entry is free before 8pm, a drink can set you back about $15-$25. The entire menu can be found here.

Midweek Madness – No Lights No Lycra

What is it?

No Lights No Lycra could be described as a dance class. Except it there’s no instructor and no choreography. You’re not required to wear a leotard and you don’t need a partner. And probably most importantly, there are no lights. It’s simply a time and a location. All you have to do is show up and dance.

How much fun would it be to dance in a room full of people without any element of scrutiny or performance? The answer: A LOT.

I was a bit sceptical attending my first NLNL session. There wasn’t a whole lot of information on the website at the time. And from the vague account I got from one of my classmates, it sounded like a cross between a nightclub and a fitness class. But don’t worry, it’s neither of these things!

After a few minutes of awkwardly standing on the side of a dark church hall, watching the shadowy outlines of less inhibited individuals fling their limbs around to the drum beats of what sounded like African tribal music – I joined them. The two step shuffle and periodical shoulder lifting turned into fully fledged groove session. In the span of one and a half hours I had attempted the moonwalk, rediscovered my jazz hands and even thrown in some hardcore crumping.

The music is as eclectic and random as the people who attend. Expect to hear anything from Oldies to dreamy electronic beats, Michael Jackson, or the Pussycat Dolls. Expect to (vaguely) see giggly teenagers, professional dancers and even people in business suits – all caught up in their own bubbles of awesome dance moves.

It makes for an extremely casual night out – No reservations needed, and you can walk in or walk out halfway. It happens twice a week, every Tuesday (Fitzroy and Windsor) and Wednesday (Brunswick) and usually runs for about an hour and a half. You can find all the details below, or visit their blog or website. You can also find them on facebook here.

NLNL is fun, a lot of fun. But more so than that, it’s therapeutic, incredibly personal and different to any other dance experience offered in Melbourne.

To get you in the mood, here’s a clip of one of their flash mobs called ‘Lunch break’ from way back in 2009.

Locations and Times

Tuesdays in Fitzroy, 7:45 pm to 9 pm
St Marks Hall, 250 George Street, Fitzroy

Tuesdays in Windsor, 7 pm to 8: 15 pm
Will Sampson Hall, 102 Henry Street, Windsor

Wednesdays, 7 pm to 8:30 pm
49 Nicholson St, East Brunswick

How much: A $5 donation at the door when you leave.
Additional Info: You may want to bring a bottle of water.