The greenest cafe we’ve ever encountered, Greenhouse by Joost popped up at Melbourne’s Southbank this month as part of the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival, with an aim to change the way we think about food.
Part of the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival, Greenhouse by Joost popped up at Melbourne’s Southbank this month, having already debuted in Sydney last year.
A pop-up café by day and bar by night, Greenhouse is the brainchild of Dutch-born eco-entrepreneur and artist Joost (pronounced ‘Yoast’) Bakker, who has built the concept around an ethos of using “the stuff other people throw out”. But it’s safe to say that Joost has taken the word ‘green’ to a whole new level – the entire site runs off fuel that is generated from its patrons’ urine. That’s right, Greenhouse captures your wee in a nifty separating loo, uses it to fertilise soil to grow mustard seeds on a farm in Daylesford, which is then used to fuel their groundbreaking generators. Even the water you use to wash your hands is recycled the next time someone flushes.
At first glimpse, Greenhouse is exactly that – very green, with a vertical garden made from mini strawberry plants adorning its external walls. Look closer and you’ll notice all the structural elements are made from all-natural materials including hay and even glue made from soybeans. Inside, you’ll find wheat being stone-milled (which is used to make Greenhouse’s lovely baked goods), various fungi growing, and furniture built from aluminum irrigation pipes.
The food, as you can expect, is a delicious product of everything on the menu being organic, biodynamic, and sourced from ingredients grown onsite or locally; beef arrives from Hopkins River, and the corn-fed chooks travel from Glenloth Game, where we are assured they have been well cared for.
We arrive bright and early for breakfast, presented with a short menu with an emphasis on fresh produce. There’s house-baked bread, toasted and served with jam or honey (it’s worth noting at this point, that Grenhouse keep their own bees on the rooftop – a special stinger-free species that is apparently one of the only legally permitted varieties), organic eggs, oats, and a couple of mezze options. I choose the fresh tomatoes with mozzarella and flatbread – a tasty salad-for-brekky style plate that I wash down with one of the best orange juices I’ve ever had, served in a recycled jam jar.
The coffee is deliciously creamy too, presented in gorgeous recycled jars with faux milk spilling from them.
Upstairs you’ll find a roof bar serving Little Creatures ales on tap, and Natural Selection Theory wine, interestingly on tap also, along with the healthiest tapas menu I’ve ever encountered. Forget your deep fried calamares fritos and patatas bravas; at Greenhouse, you’ll find wild rice and shitake with curd, spiced chicken served with quinoa and yoghurt, and other locally foraged options.
With views right across the Yarra, Greenhouse has again assumed prime position (first taking residence on Sydney Harbour), so it’s safe to say we will be back for a cheeky rooftop brewsky soon. But we’d better be quick – Greenhouse are packing up and heading to Brisbane soon, where they will be making themselves comfortable for a more long-term stay.
Head to Greenhouse by Joost during the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival: 2 – 21 March, 8:00am – 10:00pm daily at Queensbridge Square, Southbank, Melbourne.