Tucked behind the sandstone buildings and towering conifers of Toorak Uniting Church, Manna Cafe is as far away from Melbourne as you can get without leaving Toorak Road. The Church's beautifully-restored manse, Kinross House now houses a variety of local and international art exhibitions, as well as Manna's pint-sized kitchen and adjoining cosy dining room. With light flooding in the stained glass windows, Manna is a veritable haven favoured by artists and coffee aficionados alike.
Manna overlooks the Church's lush gardens and offers a seasonal menu with a definite emphasis on locally-sourced and organic ingredients. Chunky quiches and filled-to-bursting wraps are lunch time favourites - and fillings change daily . Bread is baked fresh every morning and is perfect dipped into a steaming bowl of soup. In the fine weather, the fresh salads taste best in the shade of the garden's silver birches.
Best of all at Manna, everything is made-to-order while you wait - so the bacon in your BLT can be as soft or crispy as you like. (This patron has even been known to ask if her chocolate milkshake could be 'a bit more chocolatey.') Coffee is made with similar care, so leave enough time to miss your regular morning tram.
During the week, Manna is filled with the chatter of mothers and young children from the kindegarten next door. On the weekend, it's the congregation and in-the-know-locals who settle down to the crossword with a sticky slice of orange syrup cake and a pot of tea. Whatever day of the week it is, Manna is heaven on Toorak Road.