Where Mana gaming bar used to be is now a new vegetarian / vegan cafe called Radhey Kitchen and Chai Bar. As a merely underemployed person, I took an unemployed vegetarian friend there for lunch recently to talk about our circumstances and compare experiences. Being one of these freezing wet wintery days we both wanted hot food, and ordered the same chickpea and vegetable coconut curry, which is served with a papadum and rice. It was extremely satisfying, with carrot, potato and sweet potato and walnuts as well as lots of spices.
We then each had a chai latte, and separate desserts: pecan pie for her and chocolate brownie for me. Both were delicious but the brownie taking me by surprise with a blast of banana flavour. Be warned: this is dense stuff that will challenge you to finish it but finish it I did. With charming staff offering friendly service, and a key point of difference in offering a specialty chai bar, Radhey fits well into the growing vegetarian / vegan precinct on Brunswick St and has something unique to offer. You don’t need to be vegetarian or vegan to enjoy what Radhey is serving.
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This does not surprise me. In the aftermath of the financial collapse of the Brunswick St Cycles empire, the former Brunswick St Cycles shop on Brunswick St was rebadged to become Bikes on Brunswick, using the same showroom minus the adjacent workshop (which is now Côté).
If you thought that BSC’s prices were uncompetitive, BoB’s were worse, with a basic tube costing almost double what you would pay at the nearby Famous Melbourne Bicycle Centre on Queens Parade in Clifton Hill. There’s not enough lazy ignorant customers around here willing to pay unreasonably inflated prices to support the cost of Brunswick St rent to make this shop sustainable.
Addict is a new cafe on Johnston St in the building that was previously the location of a series of failed Indian restaurants: Guru Da Dhaba, Tandoori Station and the Fitzroy Curry House. It features a typical contemporary minimalist interior and an ambitious menu for a cafe, with the lunch menu sounding more like that of a gastropub or bistro.
Nearby neighbour the Johnston St Food Store, which has been around for five years now and has been until now the only cafe on this section of Johnston St, should be worried because it has a new competitor. If it is still offering only pre-made sandwiches, which it was when it opened, it won’t be able compete with what Addict is offering, such as this pulled pork burger with chunky chips, complete with deep fried sage leaf.
The service and coffee are good and it adds to the appeal of this section of Johnston St, which has fluctuated in recent years between attracting more furniture retailers and losing some long term small shops while still looking a bit shabby. Perhaps momentum is now building. With the opening of Addict and the front of La Condesa, Johnston St continues to improve.