123 Swanston Street
On a recent work day I was trying to organise lunch with some mates that work all over the city (okay, both ends of Collins Street).
Suggestions were made and vetoed: A sandwich at Captains of Industry? Can’t, we need to save that for when Friend J is available. Ramen from Ajisen or Ramen Ya? Maaaaybe, but maybe we feel more like pho… Pho? But pho is better in Footscray than the city! Finally it was pointed out that N had no more than $10 to his name and that had to last him until he got his wallet back from the coppers due to a rather drunk Saturday night and a blessedly honest taxi driver, so we needed to choose a cheapie.
So “that Hare Krishna place” was settled upon. Also known as Crossways Food For Life. If you are in the mood for some vegetarian curry and brown rice, which comes with dessert, a glass of cordial, pappadums and is all you can eat, how much would you pay? If you guessed in the order of $5.50 if you’re concession, or $7.50 if you’re not… you’ve probably been to Crossways before because that’s a super-accurate guess. For everyone else who probably guessed higher, this place is a brilliant bargain.
They have a rotating menu but I’ve always managed to arrive on the aforementioned vegetarian-curry-brown-rice day. That’s fine though, because this isn’t fine dining but the curry is damn tasty. It’s packed with beans and other vegies in an Indian curry style and the brown rice is a nutty accompaniment, so much more interesting than white rice. Check out my huge serving below – and there was more on offer (that’s if I could even finish this plate, which sadly I could not).
Crossways also give you a dessert, which is excellent for people like me who love a sweet treat to finish the meal (and ditch their main plate before it’s finished to eat dessert). It’s always halawa, or as I liked to call it, “steamed pudding-y custardy thingo” and usually incorporates some sort of fruit. This time, it was peach. And there are drinks, a cordial or a lassi type of drink. If you skip the lassi and the dessert, your meal’s vegan, too, rather than just vegetarian, if that’s your bag.
The atmosphere is good upstairs; the space is light and bright, the people are from all walks of life (including some stingy suits like ourselves) and everyone’s smiling as they put their dishes away at the end. If you’re interested in Hare Krishna beliefs you can even read about them in little books on the table, although to be honest I’ve been concentrating on the food when I’ve been in there. It’s only open for lunch. Recommend!