The Workshop on Elizabeth Street at the top end of the city is an interesting spot. It's somewhat hard to find, although not in a 'too cool for school' way: it's on the first floor and the entrance to the staircase is actually on A'Beckett Street.
As you enter, you are struck by its dark and moody feel, and almost labyrinthine setup. It has plenty of nooks and crannies which would be perfect for some lunchtime romance, spirited conversation over a glass of the on-tap cider or a quick lunch. Or for the more nostalgic amongst us, a dollar will buy you a trip down 80s memory lane with a game of Space Invaders.
Whilst moody, there is also a balcony for arty types to enjoy a coffee or lunch when the sun comes out. The menu is highly affordable and features many choices of the vegetarian persuasion. From a lentil shepherd's pie, to a salami pizza, both carnivores and herbivores will appreciate the variety.
The food came out very quickly, which is obviously important for a weekday lunchtime in the city. We dined on the lentil pie and shared a nacho pizza, both were rustic, tasty and accessible in their offering. It's good, simple lunchtime fare, inexpensive and not fancy, and doesn't promise anything else.
The pizza was especially flavoursome, with the corn chips and a touch of jalapeño lending it a reasonably authentic Mexican feel. And the peppers gave it that touch of heat which brought it alive. There wasn't what you'd call 'bags' of flavour in the lentil pie, but it more than hit the spot.
As you sip your slightly watery and lukewarm coffee, strange original paintings watch you from the walls, all at the unusual prices of $233, $333 or $633, and this added to the quirky vibe and charm of the place. The service was attentive and friendly, without being too lingering. We were made to feel welcome by the host and waitresses and then left alone to enjoy our lunch.
All in all it was a very positive and different experience. If you don't expect absolute perfection (for example, the coffee was a disappointment), there is much to enjoy here, and the pricing is a very pleasant surprise.