673 Bourke St
Melbourne, VIC 3000
Being an ex-pharmacist-future-doctor, I am all about working for the public sector (yes there are pharmacists in hospitals; no we don’t just ferry ketamine around like drug mules). On the other hand, as an IT dude, Chris is a big ol’ sell-out. Working in the private industry, he has perks I can’t even begin to dream about – company-funded lunches, foosball in the office, and not being yelled at by patients on a daily basis – just to name a few. And the closest I’ll ever get to that sort of glamour (at least until I’m 50 and a high-earning specialist physician) is taking advantage of his lenient lunch ‘hour’ to go on a quick date.
I’m extra smug about this public servant thing that I do, because lunch today is at Kinfolk, and I know for a fact that they think just like me. Set up in 2010 as a non-profit, with all their earnings going out to affiliated charities, they’ve so far rounded up a neat $175k to donate to those in need. As they say on their website, We Give A Fork.
Being a homely, volunteer-run sort of place, the food and service are both quite bare-bones compared to the more pimped-out places around the CBD. But what it lacks in finesse, it makes up for in enthusiasm and heart… and a wholesome, plant-heavy menu that changes with the seasons.
One of the few non-vegetarian options on the menu at the moment is the Brisket Baguette ($12.5), which we both jumped on gleefully. And this was top notch – crusty bread, slow-cooked beef, sweet caramelised onion, and an oozy combination of cheddar and mustard mayo – Kinfolk gets everything spot-on. The only complaint? It was a very, very small sandwich; not too unreasonable given the relatively low price and relatively high quality, but I still had to have a snack to make it through to dinner.
Even after seeing the baguette, the Small Soup and Salad ($12) combo still seemed impossibly tiny. Seriously, the bowls were barely larger than soy sauce dishes, but thankfully it was all good stuff. The soup of the day – potato and leek – was absolutely scrumptious, tasting thick and fragrant but without any accompanying guilt. The Quinoa Butternut Pumpkin Goji and Kale (sic) salad was a bit more pedestrian, doing what it says on the package, but does deliver a healthy dose of fresh veggies. The meal also came with a slice of buttered sourdough toast, and made for a relatively satisfying meal all-up, though I’d definitely go for the large next time.
It’s always hard to review a restaurant that’s not-for-profit, as it would be both unrealistic and unfair to pit it against a place that has deep pockets, and aims to make a profit. With that said however, the food at Kinfolk is surprisingly good quality for the price, even if it’s on the simpler side. My only complaint would be the teeny portions – I’d gladly pay an extra $5 to have a meal that didn’t leave me wishing for more. But other than that, it’s a pretty solid place for a meal, and you can come out the other end feeling good about yourself to boot.
Rating: 13/20 – bonus point for philanthropy.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.