Food and Drink


Hooray Krishna

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Leading away from the hustle of busy Swanston Street is a brightly painted staircase leading to one of the friendliest restaurants in the world – all you can eat vegetarian lunch spot Crossways, Food For Life.

Part of a worldwide collection of not-for-profit restaurants under the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKON) / Hare Krishna movement, Crossways is part restaurant, part refuge – a haven of karma boosting vegetarian nourishment where everyone is welcome and only one rule is enforced with military attention to detail, a fiercely serious NO MEAT printed in 72pt type on the doorway.

Continually reliable weekday lunches are more than just a bargain, attracting a cross section of society youʼd be hard pressed to find under one roof elsewhere – university students sick of two minute noodles mingle with elderly single men, young teenagers waxing lyrical about politics, international students, backpackers and families all sit together.

Itʼs not glamorous, but then it isnʼt trying to be. Staffed by volunteers and underpinned by the ancient teachings of the Hare Krishna, quality stays high through donations and costs stay low for consumers, everyone is welcome and itʼs not preachy.

Open six days a week the menu changes daily on a consistent roster, Thursdayʼs Malaysian tofu curry is generous and spicy, Saturdayʼs “special curry with special rice” is (on this day) a flavourful southern Indian curry of red kidney beans and vegetables, and like all meals is served with fresh papadams and a generous serving of rice.

I will concede that lunch is a limited (and repetitive) choice but itʼs excellent value at $5.50 for concession card holders and $7.50 full price. All you can eat curry also comes with a daily desert of halava and custard and to drink thereʼs yoghurt lassi or orange cordial on tap. Strictly no alcohol. Takeaway is an extra 50c, each serve so large it would easily do you for two meals.

Thereʼs no formality here, to begin line up to pay, help yourself to everything and clear your own plates, but at these prices itʼs hardly a bother. Itʼs a calorific hit and theyʼre not shy with the salt – but the vegetables and spices are smacking fresh and all mains are vegan, deserts vegetarian and packed full of home-cooked karmic love. This is surely the easiest way to feel good about your lunch.

Crossways Food for Life
123 Swanston Street, 1st Floor, Melbourne
Hours: 11.30am – 2.30pm Monday – Saturday
Price: $7.50 ($5.50 conc) all you can eat

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