Type: Epicurean Café
Address: 57 Lonsdale St (Rear )Melbourne 3000 VIC
Phone: (03) 9662 2277
Open: Monday to Friday 6am -5pm
Piadina Slowfood in Adjectives
Warming, home style/traditional, comforting, eclectic, fresh, fucking scrumptious.
Being a city office worker, you become familiar with the limited menu choices offered to you by the cafes surrounding your office. It is the blight of your concrete dwelling existence that you are reduced to consuming hard ciabatta rolls filled with fried schnitzels and arugula; or substandard sushi with tuna that doesn’t taste fresh nor in fact tuna like at all.
And please, let us not get into the discussion of juice bars either. I’ve eaten hamburgers that are far healthier then some of the beverages these juicers churn out to the masses under the guise of well-being.
And the particular menu item mentioned above honestly did say arugula instead of rocket/roquette in what I can only assume was an attempt to distance its own replicated menu from the other 986 other cafes frequented by the workers of the city of Melbourne.
So it came as a pleasant surprise to me the other day when I stumbled across a small review in one of the weekend newspaper supplements about a café called Piadina Slowfood that was but a short stroll from the place where I work.
This same Piadina Slowfood review mentioned meatball stuffed piadina’s with shaved Romano cheese that were so extraordinary; the reviewer continued to go back daily for his lunch. Also, this particular reviewer was a chef at one of the finest dining establishments in this fair city. A decent review, if I have ever read one.
But before we continue, please read this again.
Meatball stuffed piadina’s with shaved Romano cheese.
Did you feel that?
Don’t be frightened of that feeling, it’s just your tastebuds asserting themselves and making you feel culinary aroused.
Now, as an office worker who has been denied the gastronomic pleasures of good fucking lunch food, the idea that someone could create superior lunches for the office packs whilst still maintaining affordability and variety was a revelation to me. I have truly missed that feeling of awakening that only good food can bring.
And no one knows like an office worker that the only thing you have to look forward to in your day is your lunch break.
So today I was pleased to become financially replenished with my pay deposited into my bank account and a long overdue catch up with a dear friend to inspire me; we decide to hit Piadina Slowfood for lunch.
Piadina Slowfood specialises in just that; piadinas (Italian flat bread not unlike pide/pita) and dishes keeping with the slowfood philosophy such as currys, stews, bakes or as I like to call slowfood “grub that takes a lot of time and a lot of love”.
My chum had the pleasure of eating at Piadina Slowfood previously and had suggested that we get there earlier as seating is sparse.
Heading west down Lonsdale Street, about 200 metres from the Spring Street intersection, a small pedestrian alley way on the left will lead you to your new favourite lunch spot.
At the rear of No. 57, glass windows steamed by the tagines, pots, pans and coffee machine welcome you to this positively tiny establishment. We take a step down into the café to see only 2 tables, crammed with people eating hot lunches with the look on their faces of contented satisfaction. Was it the look of relief? Comfort even? Who cares actually, these people looked happy just because they were eating something real and I already knew I liked this place.
And then the smell hits you. The sweetness of cooked onion and basil mixed with the pungent pull of curry, red meats and tomato.
I looked at my companion and mouthed the words “Oh. My. Lord” as the heady aroma of cooking smells hits my brain. She just smiled at me and said “I told you so, didn’t I?”
As the coffee machines hisses and pans clang in the minuscule open kitchen, I look around at the surrounds and at the windows facing onto the laneway. Sitting below the windows are rows of fresh vegetables lined up to be used in today’s lunch pot. One window was crowded by butternut pumpkins while the other surrounded by cauliflowers. A tower of Italian pomodoro tins separated the two. It reminded me of the provincial delis and market places I have visited in Europe where you can see and touch what you will eventually eat.
The wait staff, who all have kiwi accents and are all ridiculously gorgeous offer us a small table outside. Although the middle of winter in Melbourne, I take consolation in the fact that I am wearing a coat and I am about to indulge in some wintry comfort not unlike that of those that crowd the tables inside.
A chalked menu is pointed out which is written on the side wall of the building. I am told that the menu changes daily so if you order something today, you may never experience it again.
But what to order? There are only 12 things on the menu but each one is exactly what I feel like eating this very day. Such as the Japanese Curry or the pasta bake with provolone. Or the vegetable soup of the day or maybe the stuffed capsicums filled with risotto. There is a range of pre-made sarnies on the front counter but what I really came here for was the hot piadina’s.
I order a piadina with prochiutto, leek, tomato and cheese which I believe was mozzarella. I was delighted that the bread wasn’t so crisp that it would snap if I cut it or graze my inner cheek if I bit it. It was grilled nicely leaving the contents of the piadina warm and soft; the cheese melted but still firm enough that it didn’t slide off my cutlery. The tomato base was marinated in garlic and basil which left a delicate after taste.
My companion ordered the sausage curry pie which was presented as a hearty slice from a larger pie. The crust was crunchy and golden whilst the contents of the pie were robust and not overly liquidy with gravy. The sausages appeared home made.
Coffee followed after lunch and I was delighted to find that the drop was a cut above. Someone in this place knows how to make a real cup o’ jo! Add to that my joy at stirring my cup with a Charles and Diana commemorative wedding teaspoon and my lunch bill tally being a measly $11, my splendiferous dining experience was complete.
I can’t specifically tell you what it is about Piadina Slowfood that pique’s my interest so. Sure, the food is completely unbelievable and reminds me somewhat of the creations made by my ethnic ancestors and I do adore a tiny laneway secret that Melbourne hides so well within its walls.
I think what I find is so enchanting about it is that it is a lunch time place, a venue where you can shut away the mundane for 30 minutes while you enjoy a moment of soothing indulgence. And they say food is a massage for the soul, and the clock watchers of the world need that more then anything.