The idea behind Charcoal Lane is simple: to transform lives through food. A social enterprise restaurant providing Aboriginal and disengaged youth with meaningful work and hospitality training. The Gertrude Street location is situated in the same building that was home to the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service almost twenty years ago.
The smart service and elegant décor suggest nothing ‘trainee’ about Charcoal Lane. The heavy black doors of the once-condemned building open onto a crisp, black and white dining room, punctuated simply by hand-crafted eel trap lighting and art commissions from Victorian indigenous artists.
Head chef Andy Bedford, is hitting his stride by experimenting with native flavours to create dishes that are contemporary, complex and well presented. Dishes like Wildfire Spiced Kangaroo Loin with Pomme Puree and Paper Bark Smoked Barramundi with Sautéed Chick Peas and Broccolini, showcase a subtlety and tenderness to native meat. And with a small request, all meals are customisable to your liking.
Bedford is also committed to sourcing ingredients from businesses where Aboriginal communities will benefit, using native flora like saltbush and samphire from local markets. It’s this ethos that drives Bedford's cooking and teaching in the kitchen at Charcoal Lane.