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Lentil As Anything ~ Abbotsford Convent

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by Jen (subscribe)
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Published July 23rd 2014
Lentil is not as Mental as you may think
lentil as anything, not for profit restaurant, vegan, gluten free, vegetarian, abbotsford, abbotsford convent
Founded by current President Shanaka Fernando, 'Lentil' is a not for profit organisation with a pay as you feel model, involved in several education programs and social projects.


I have no doubt by now, Lentil As Anything needs no introduction. Even though I have known about it for a few years, I had never visited till the 28th of June 2014 when I went to the Slow Food Market at the Abbotsford Convent. I have no answer as to why not, as I've been to the markets at Abbotsford a couple of times before.

lentil as anything, not for profit restaurant, vegan, gluten free, vegetarian, abbotsford, abbotsford convent
At the Abbotsford Convent grounds at 1 St Heliers st, Abbotsford. Ph: (03) 9419 6444


I was definitely impressed by the ambiance of the large main room and it definitely exuded the feeling of community and connection, with shades of a hippy era of days gone by. I loved it. It was colourful and the food was far better than I had thought, and with more choices than I had imagined. They're also open from 9am to 9pm and serve breakfast from 9am to 11.30 am, lunch from 12noon to 4pm and dinner from 6pm to 9pm.

lentil as anything, not for profit restaurant, vegan, gluten free, vegetarian, abbotsford, abbotsford convent
Coleslaw, Indo-Asian, Winter veg potage, Cauliflower soup, Grilled polenta with soy dressing (loved it), Roasted potatoes in smoked tofu gravy, Hummus Dip and Chocolate cake was on offer on the day


There was a line, but it was not bad, and I now know this because I was at Abbotsford convent this weekend just gone (20 July 2014) for the Makers Market and the Shirt and Skirt Market (held every 3rd Sunday of the month), and the line to enter the restaurant could have covered being wrapped around the whole convent grounds. Amazing ! Needless to say, on this occasion, I ate elsewhere ~ the convent bakery.

lentil as anything, not for profit restaurant, vegan, gluten free, vegetarian, abbotsford, abbotsford convent
Nearly in the door after lining up in the queue ~ checking out the artwork on the wall while waiting patiently


There is seating out the front apart from the main room as well as some out the back on a verandah overlooking the grounds. There were a couple of signs that mention the 'contribution box' had moved and when I got there, the entertainment was just starting to pack up.

lentil as anything, not for profit restaurant, vegan, gluten free, vegetarian, abbotsford, abbotsford convent
A contribution of $5 does not cover your meal, $12 will, but $15 is better as all expenses to keep the place going is ensured. If you are able to 'pay it forward' and give more than that, good on you for covering someone who can't afford to, with the rest going towards making a change in this world.


For me it was mind-boggling to wrap my head around the fact that it's all based on trust. It's an amazing concept and the business 'model' astounding. On top of that to not be judged or be looked down upon (as I have no doubt there are many that may not quite be able to afford the meal and perhaps pay less or even not at all) and to be fed with a welcoming smile; an experience I am sure that can be found no where else in Melbourne but at the 'Lentil' restaurants.
lentil as anything, not for profit restaurant, vegan, gluten free, vegetarian, abbotsford, abbotsford convent
Check their webpage for catering services for special events; either on-site at the restaurant which will be set up specifically for your occasion, or off-site delivery where they will cook and pack the food for you to pick up, or they can come and cater at the venue of your choice.


Operating with the belief in the inherent goodness of humanity and believing in the values of trust, generosity, inclusion and kindness at the core of our community, Lentil as Anything should be applauded for their courage in defying the trends of conventional consumerism. I do believe they more than deserve our support and one can do that in many ways.

lentil as anything, not for profit restaurant, vegan, gluten free, vegetarian, abbotsford, abbotsford convent
A welcoming sense of community at Lentil that deserves our support to keep it running for many years to come for our enjoyment


You can 'like' and share their page on Facebook with your friends; you can buy their cookbook off their website; you can contribute by donating money into the contribution box at the restaurant; donating food or volunteering your services; you could think about using them when you organise a fundraiser; you could do an internship program with them in hospitality; hire their catering services for your special occasions; or, if you'd like to share your musical talents, you can busk at the restaurant. They are open 7 days a week from 9am to 9pm and they also have an 'open mic night' so you can share your talents with the community every Wednesday at Abbotsford. Go on down and enjoy the 'Lentil' experience, and below we have for you, a 'fresh off the press' video clip from Lentil as Anything.



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Why? A unique not for profit, pay as you feel restaurant with a social conscience, in beautiful surrounds.
When: 9 am to 9pm. Breakfast: 9 AM 11.30 AM Lunch: 12 PM 4 PM Dinner: 6 PM 9 PM
Phone: (03) 9419 6444
Where: 1-3 ST Heliers Street, Abbotsford VIC
Cost: Pay what you think it's worth and follow guidelines given by them as per poster at restaurant.
Your Comment
There was a really interesting documentary a few years back on Lentil as anything that could probably be found online if anyone was interested. Love your article :)
by Lorraine A (score: 3|1584) 1487 days ago
Best curries ever! Is the breakfast set out as a buffet as well?
by Mallory (score: 2|474) 1489 days ago
Hi Mallory, no, breakfast is not a buffet. Its a menu with about 6 different options. With just half an hour between the brekky and lunch timeframe, I'd say they start setting up the lunches in the bain-marie beforehand and therefore need it to be available ;) I've actually never been there for brekky so maybe one day we should all go :) x
by Jen (score: 3|1885) 1489 days ago
An interesting concept, I haven't heard about many non-for-profit restaurants.
by TheOnlyFiona (score: 2|423) 1489 days ago
Like you, I've heard so much about Lentil, but have not ventured there myself. I loved reading about your experience there. Your article might just be the 'push' I need. :)
by Anabe (score: 1|69) 1468 days ago
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