What's better than getting a great feed at a decent price? Getting a great feed at a decent price while helping folks less fortunate than yourself without even thinking about it.
That's the idea behind brand new Swan Street eatery Feast Of Merit in Richmond. Dreamt up by not-for-profit organisation, YGAP, which helps tackle poverty by supporting youth education projects, all profits from the new restaurant go straight back into the good work they carry out in Australian communities and overseas in Africa, Bangladesh, and Cambodia.
The name Feast of Merit is borrowed from a north-eastern Indian ritual whereby the most well off in the community throw a feast for the least flush, which fits the modus operandi.
Long-time YGAP volunteer and former Kinfolk head chef, Ravi Presser, who trained under Andrew McConnell at Cumulus Inc. and Circa, has whipped up a mostly vego menu full of Middle Eastern flavours, and St Ali have donated espresso machines and two years' worth of a speciality blend of coffee.
Alby Tomassi, co-founder of YGAP and owner of St Kilda's Banff and East Brunswick's Jimmi Jamz restaurants is psyched to bring the YGAP mentality to Feast Of Merit, with the aim of making the not-for-profit organisation self-sustainable by 2020, and not reliant on corporate donations.
He's pretty excited about Ravi's menu, too. "I tried his octopus tentacles with pomegranate seeds, oregano and chilli and it was to die for," he says. "We've been very selective, choosing local farmers and producers, like organic Milawa chicken, Hopkins River beef and line-caught, sustainable fish through Clam's Seafood."
Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the funky joint, all raw bricks, hefty wooden doors with stained-glass panels and copper piping, keeps mains like 12-hour lamb joint with harissa, or fried cauliflower with blackened onions, hung yoghurt, sour cherries and raw veg slaw at the $15 mark, with small plates like spiced runner beans or falafel with spearmint yoghurt under $7.
"Ravi truly believes in the accessibility of food," Tomassi says, "It hurts him when he walks into a restaurant and knows produce that could be sold for about $8 a dish is being sold at up to $17."
Fruit and veg will be sourced by fellow social enterprise, Spade & Barrow, who support grassroots farmers around the country; so in every way, eating at Feast of Merit is a feel-good win win.
Feast of Merit opens on Monday 3rd March
Feast of Merit | 117 Swan Street in Richmond | Breakfast, lunch and drinks seven days and dinner Tuesday - Sunday.
Want more feel good food? Check out our stories on cafes with a conscience.
Image Credit: The Feast of Merit team. Ravi Presser (third from left), Alby Tomassi (far right).