Eat here: Cafe Zen Den, Melbourne

Cafe Zen Den, Eltham, Melbourne


TGIF people!! I’m coming up to my one year anniversary of working a job in the “real” world; as in, Monday to Friday, 9 – 5 type stuff. I spent the first 10 years of my working life in jobs that required early morning starts (5.30am), late night finishes (10.30pm), split shifts and weekends. Every damn week. Last year after a, well let’s call it what it was, a break down, I finally came to a compromise: instead of killing myself working in jobs that I did actually enjoy, but had crappy wages based largely off commission and therefore varied week to week (shit when you have a mortgage and HECS debt to pay off!), rotten hours that meant I was usually working while my husband and friends were not, and serious stress, I decided to take a job that was a bit more boring and not in an area of my passions for a much better pay, WAY less stress and great standard hours which then allowed me to follow my passions (like cooking and writing) in my spare time, as well as being able to save enough money for travel while still being able to pay the bills! Pretty good compromise, I think!

Anyway, the best part about this, is that I GET WEEKENDS NOW!!!!!!! A full 2 days off, EVERY WEEK!!! I’ve NEVER had this before – I’ve worked weekends from the time I started working as a casual in my teens until last year as a 27 year old – insane! I’m also now learning to slow down and enjoy life, now that I don’t have to try to fit all my weekend activities into one morning or afternoon off like I used to. One of my favourite weekend activities now is catching up with a friend for lunch – last weekend it was a long walk around Eltham’s park lands with Sibba and lunch at Cafe Zen Den! We chose it because it’s a favourite place for her, I’d never been, but had heard great things. We also both like to keep active, so we thought catching up over a pre-lunch walk would be nice too, and Eltham is the perfect place being half way between our houses.

Sibba went with the tofu macro bowl ($11.00) – a delicious bowl of goodness – tofu, chickpeas, brown rice, veggies, and the most magnificently flavoured soy infused tahini. It was really good, and incredible value for money; it’s a deceptively large bowl!


Personally, I’m a big fan of breakfast for lunch, and I’d been feeling a bit off and felt like something pretty simple, so I went with the poached eggs on sourdough with avocado and bacon ($15.00). The toast was pretty small, but other than that, I couldn’t complain! A surprisingly generous serving of avocado and bacon, perfectly poached eggs, happy days! I know bacon and eggs is pretty simple, but it really makes a difference when the ingredients are fresh – you can taste the difference, and that’s what made my lunch delicious.


The cafe itself was fantastic – really cute little set up, gorgeous art work on the walls (all for sale too, if the wallet can stretch!), beautiful wooden tables and mismatched chairs. It did have the other hallmarks of a hipster establishment too, like the incredible looking smoothies served in mason jars, raw/vegan desserts in the window, and the communal cutlery-and-napkin-in-a-wooden-box set up. But, unlike a lot of hipster establishments, it didn’t have the attitude. It was warm and cosy, the service was friendly and welcoming; there was no elitist, too-cool vibes, which made it pretty great in my books.

The other thing that I absolutely LOVED was the fact that they serve a doggy’s breakfast – for only $3.50, your special furry friend can have their own bacon and sausage breakfast, too! I can’t wait to head back now with Marley, take him for a nice walk along the river, and treat him to some breaky while we eat ours 🙂 too cute! If you’re looking for a brunch spot this weekend, make your way on over to Cafe Zen Den – and if you have another favourite place to brunch, either in Melbourne or interstate or overseas, please let me know – I’m always looking for new places to try, both at home and on my travels!


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