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Published June 6th 2016
Housed in a TV-famous building, The Block's Blocktagon
Logo courtesy of Mister Zen. All other images by writer
It was an overcast, cloudy day when I made my first visit to Mister Zen after a walk along the Yarra. It was the perfect prescription and just what the doctor ordered to stop by and be greeted by warm and friendly staff. The tasty hot coffee was the cherry on top.
Located at the Blocktagon at 1-5 Commercial Rd, South Yarra (0431 215 723), Mister Zen doesn't need a lot of advertising as fans of the TV show 'The Block' have flocked to visit the building. During the taping and the building of the Blocktagon by contestants of this popular TV show, it was Mister Zen's big brother/sister Piccolo Espresso Cafe & Wine Bar that catered to all those involved with the project, supplying them with their signature good and fresh food.
It's that friendly, efficient service they're known for that got them the gig at The Blocktagon. They were invited by the organisers to run a cafe at the building and thus gave birth to Piccolo's little brother, Mister Zen; open 7 days a week, 7am to 4pm on weekdays and 8am to 4pm on the weekends.
As an aside, Piccolo being just around the corner, is a family favourite breakfast place of ours and we definitely go there just for the coffee, often.
You can have all day breakfast at Mister Zens, starting from simple toast with condiments to raspberry smoothie bowls with coconut flakes, house-made granola, seasonal fruit and berries. If coconut chia pudding and brioche French toast with whipped raspberry ricotta is not your style and like me, you'd rather tuck into something hot for breakfast, order the eggs which can be poached, scrambled or fried on toast.
Hungrier than that? There's pea, leek and zucchini croquettes with saffron soup, poached eggs and parmesan; baked eggs with baby lamb meatballs; beetroot cured salmon; the big breakfast; eggs benedict and more, to keep you satisfied.
There's also a lot of snacks (polenta chips, karaage chicken and harrissa) and sides to choose from with the usual coffee by 5 Senses and more; and the best part for vegans is that you can have it with almond milk. You'd be surprised how difficult it is to find almond milk coffee in this fair city of ours.
I found that out when my sister from Perth came to visit and it's all she drinks. It seems it's more commonplace in Perth and Queensland (so a girlfriend told me), than it is here in Melbourne. Well now you know. Go to Mister Zen for it!
Lunch is served from 11.30am onwards (that's nice, coz sometimes we just can't wait till midday) and that's when the slow cooked lamb baguettes; soft shell crab on a brioche bun; super food salad; coconut and lemongrass poached chicken; the pan fried salmon and reuben sandwich, descend for your eating pleasure.
However, that's not all Mister Zen is. Throughout the seasons they play host to rotating pop-up markets and stalls. Located on a busy main road near the Alfred hospital in South Yarra, if you're a pop-up business, they'd love to hear from you. If you make donuts or iced tea, and love the cafe lifestyle, chatting to customers, perhaps you'd like to be a part of the Mister Zen outdoor marketplace experience. Call Nat on 0431 215 723 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Needless to say, Mister Zen also caters and can house 40 - 90 guests and have affordable packages if you'd like to host a party at theirs. If you'd rather host your own, they can come to you with mouth watering finger food, dessert buffets and made-to-order cakes. Contact them at the same number and email above. You can also stay in touch via their website or Facebook page.