Sean Goedecke is a freelance writer trying to visit every cafe in Australia. If you enjoy his articles, it can't hurt to click the 'like' link at the bottom or subscribe.
Published July 31st 2011
In our world of fancy coffees and Masterchef-inspired meals, simple food can be hard to find. That's the beauty of Thresherman's Bakehouse: an unpretentious restaurant dedicated to providing plain food at reasonable prices. Situated at 221 Faraday St, near Melbourne University, Thresherman's provides long tables for the students and other patrons to chat while they eat. Even the enormous seating space and, being a converted warehouse, it is enormous is filled every lunchtime.
The staple of Thresherman's meals is a twelve-dollar three-course feast, chosen from fifteen or so options on display canteen-style. While there are no labels and it's often hard to tell what's vegetarian and what's not, the staff are happy to describe each dish for you. The Asian noodles and roast pumpkin are standouts, but other options are perfectly competent no-frills dining.
Students looking for a cheaper meal often go for other options: two salads and a slice of quiche, or a self-served bowl of soup and bread roll for under ten dollars. The sign above the soup bowl says to only take one ladle, but it's common to sneak another one if nobody's looking. Thresherman's pumpkin soup is hearty and filling, and for most people one ladle will be more than enough.
The coffee is not as good as many other nearby options (although with Lygon St and Brunetti nearby, that's not saying much) and comes hot enough that experienced latte addicts will be able to discern the taste of burnt milk. The smoothies and milkshakes, however, are excellent.
Thresherman's real attraction appears in the late afternoon: huge discounts on perishable food. Sandwiches and rolls drop to under five dollars although don't ask for them toasted, as the toaster is ancient and will take half an hour and the table near the register fills with pastries for a dollar or a dollar-fifty. It's not uncommon to leave with a huge bag of muffins or banana bread, and indeed some students will buy two sandwiches: one for dinner and one for lunch the next day.
On their way to perfection.
All in all, Thresherman's doesn't hold up well as a Melbourne restaurant. That's because it doesn't try to be. Considered as what it is a cross between a cafeteria, a delicatessen and a café it excels, and is an excellent option for students, pastry lovers, and hungry people of all kinds.
You're right - not the place to go for fine fare by any stretch of the imagination, but I do recall it is a haven for many an impoverished student. It's decent enough if you want quick, cheap and easy.