• The Moat (Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne)

I like to support the new kids on the block, even more so when they have something to offer.  The Moat, the quirky cafe hidden under the Wheeler Centre, recently opened.  Hidden by a stair railing leading to a synthetic grass covered courtyard, The Moat has a big sign up every day: “Take-away coffee” or “Lunch Menu” are enticingly written in creative chalk.  They need it.  It would be too easy to walk past otherwise.

Trying The Moat for coffee, I was impressed.  It was strong and flavoursome.  They are starting to build up their client base for take-away with a little window at the front like a school tuck-shop.

Checking out the menu, I was pleased to see some vegetarian meals featured.  I finally got to try these last week.

The inside of this venue is quaint and creative.  With red hues and a decorative ambiance, this would be a lovely spot to keep warm in winter.  The menu showed an eggplant stew, pickled vegetables, a tart and salads.  The pickled vegetables sounded interesting but I was wary.  I always try Middle Eastern style pickles only to find I still don’t like them.  Is it possible to just taste a bit to see if I like them?  Ok, so I was an annoying customers, but I really liked the sound of the dish even though the risk of me disliking it was high.

The pickled vegetables were served in a little jar that our table discussed and decided had been bought from Aldi.  It contained fine slices of capsicum, squash and zucchini.  Rather than being drenched in vinegar, they were only mildly pickled and marinated in olive oil and lemon peel.  I really enjoyed them.  Fat muscatels gave an extra flavour.  On the side was thinly sliced and toasted bread as well as a delightful Persian fetta mousse.  It was an interesting dish and I appreciated its innovative style.

As a side, we enjoyed the sweet potato.  It was beautifully soft with a caramel skin.  The paprika aioli that complemented had a smoky taste and was delicious.

It was hard to go past the dessert menu.  Two of us ordered the valrhona chocolate and earl grey tart.  It was not so much a tart as a rich cake.  There was no pastry, but a fine sponge lined the bottom.  The valrhona chocolate was so rich that it overpowered the earl grey flavour.  To accompany was an intense lemon curd garnished with Persian fairy floss.  I had doubted the combination, but it was delightful.  The lemon was delicious in its own right (plump with flavour and textured more like a lemon butter), but with the chocolate, it cut through to give a refreshing sensation similar to the chocolate passionfruit gateau from Le Petit Gateau (although this one was much denser on the chocolate side).

The meal was delightful.  The service was formal rather than warm, but we were well looked after.   I hope The Moat becomes successful.  I like the idea its attention to detail and its tone of bringing back the art of food.

The Moat
176 Little Lonsdale Street   
Melbourne 3000
03 9094 7820

The Moat on Urbanspoon