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Charcoal Lane Restaurant

Home > Melbourne > Cafes | Dinner | Food and Wine | Lunch | Restaurants
by Jeni Wilson (subscribe)
Teacher educator and author of many teacher reference books. Amused by random ideas and loves random acts of kindness. Enjoys writing humour...seriously!Please see my Instagram: wilsonjeni
Published February 22nd 2017
Sharing the Passion for Native Australian Food & Culture
quality café in the inner suburbs, lunch specials, special dinner, stylish food, gluten free, outdoor seating, homemade food, native and indigenous tucker, Fitzroy restaurant, upmarket food and dinner,
Come in for a warm welcome and great bush tucker


Marked by a distinctive yellow door on busy Gertrude Street, Charcoal Lane has a long and interesting history. Once a bank and then an Aboriginal community health centre and safe meeting place, Charcoal Lane is now an upmarket restaurant that is unlike any other. Serving delicious unique cuisine with native herbs, the presentation of food is simply stunning.



We were lucky enough to meet a young chef named Stevie, who was proud to explain to us about the quality native products they use. For example, I did not know that Australia had four different types of limes. He also educated us on native rivermint, coastal succulents and muntrie berries from the coast near Adelaide. He told us that they had four times as much antioxidant than any blueberries. We were able to taste gum leaves that smelt like strawberries.

At Charcoal Lane, they carefully select a wide array of fruits, vegetables and herbs and creatively combine them to produce modern native Australian cuisine. The seasonal menu carefully combines flavours to produce unique Aussie dishes.

quality café in the inner suburbs, lunch specials, special dinner,
secret ingredients


Today we visited for the lunch specials which were $20. There are no kids menus, but my kids enjoyed the fish and chips and tried the kangaroo. I've never tried kangaroo myself, but my son said it tasted delicious. If I were to go out another time, I would try the Chef's native food tasting plate for two which is only $30.

quality café in the inner suburbs, lunch specials, special dinner,
The kangaroo


Some other examples of interesting meals include roasted emu felt $9 and Parmesan ham wrapped wallaby with rosalla flower and red wine $31. The macadamia and pesto crusted kangaroo sirloin is $20 with chargrilled zucchini ribbons, muntrie berries, blood orange and sunrise lime salad and pepper leaf jus sounds fabulous.

quality café in the inner suburbs, lunch specials, special dinner,
How stunning is this?


Despite having the children, when my meal came out I decided that I had to eat it very slowly to appreciate each mouthful. My meal was lemon myrtle cous cous, deep fried zucchini slices, hummus, chargrilled red capsicum, goat's cheeses with succulents. It looked and tasted amazingly good. Their presentation is second to none. We also indulged in the ice cream, coconut, mango rivermint with strawberry gum syrup. It was absolutely divine.

quality café in the inner suburbs, lunch specials, special dinner,
Kid's fish n chips


This comment is going to reflect on the quality of restaurants that I usually take my son to. He noticed that the waiter has his hand behind his back and commented that it look like he was being handcuffed. The waiter said it was an old habit to which my son enquired curiously 'of being handcuffed?'

The staff at Charcoal Lane are very obliging and friendly. Sam also noticed that the waiter kept filling out glasses even though they were not finished. It worked to my advantage because he tried to drink a lot of water as if it was a competition to finish.

quality café in the inner suburbs, lunch specials, special dinner,
Very swish


The quality of the food and the ambience will not disappoint. I didn't indulge but the waiter told me that they try to stick to Australian beer and wines.

The staff oozes pride and enthusiasm for sharing their passion for native Australian food, culture and hospitality. These attributes make this the type of restaurant worthy of many special occasions and I can't wait to go back.

A Great Cause

If that's not enough, it's also worth considering that Charcoal Lane is a Mission Australia social enterprise restaurant that provides opportunities for vulnerable young people (many Aboriginal) to gain both accredited hospitality qualifications and professional experience achieve their potential and gain long-term independence. The program is delivered in partnership with the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service and the William Angliss Institute.

quality café in the inner suburbs, lunch specials, special dinner,
Outdoor eating area


The Menu

The staff is passionate about telling the story of native ingredients and paying respect to Australian culture, land and environment. There's a fascinating story behind every taste.

Example Starters
Blackened moreton bay bugs seasoned with lemon myrtle and chilli, fire roasted capsicum sauce, coastal succulents $20

Macadamia and wattleseed crusted wallaby, baby chard, quinoa and watercress salad, wild tamarinds, sweet soy glace $19

Roasted emu fillet, Thai herbs, sandalwood nut salad, quandong and witlof $19

Poached prawn and mango salad, Mango cheeks, fresh chilli and rivermint, lemon myrtle, sea parsley and baby beets $18

Example Main Meals
Oven baked duck breast, duck neck and pistachio sausage, wattleseed crumbed potato, pear and davidson plum compote $34

Pan seared emu fillet, beetroot and lemon myrtle risotto, caramelised golden beets, sea parsley, crispy shallot salad $34

Parma ham wrapped wallaby, sweet potato mash, rosella flower, red wine and pepperleaf jus $31

quality café in the inner suburbs, lunch specials, special dinner,
Absolutely divine Ice-cream


I am showing my bias for desserts by listing so many. They are all $17.

Wattleseed crème brulee
Native berry semifreddo, boomerang tuille
Warm dark chocolate brownie
Rainforest cherry coulis, saffron and wattleseed cream
Lemon myrtle tiramisu
Spun sugar, chocolate soil, native fruit coulis
Rum baba
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Why? Excellent unique food styled with care
When: Thursday 12–3pm, 6–10pm Friday 12–3pm, 6–10pm Saturday 12–3pm, 6–10pm Sunday Closed Monday Closed Tuesday 12–3pm, 6–10pm Wednesday 12–3pm, 6–10pm
Phone: 9418 3400
Where: 136 Gertrude St, Fitzroy
Cost: Fair
Your Comment
I can't wait to go back
by Jeni Wilson (score: 3|1849) 972 days ago
Your son is a scream. Being handcuffed indeed. Great review.
by Nadine Cresswell-Myatt (score: 3|5675) 511 days ago
and at other times he has the effect on me!
by Jeni Wilson (score: 3|1849) 511 days ago
Great review! Sounds like a nice place to visit.
by Jay Johnson (score: 3|1368) 972 days ago
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