Robert de Santis, a co-founder of Carlton’s DOC, and Xavier Nalty, his former head chef at the Rocks in Mornington, are behind Urban Ground, a family- and dog-friendly food truck park. With a mix of high and low tables set under a big transparent roof and outside, it hums throughout the seasons. Expect up to four food trucks serving DOC pizza (naturally), American barbeque, fried calamari, doughnuts, dumplings and other options.
Urban Ground is also home to two other businesses. Bowl’d is a health-focused cafe with two separate menus. The first is available until 11.30am and covers cafe basics such as smashed avo, tofu scramble and bacon-and-egg rolls. The second, much more extensive menu, runs from midday until dinner and features a range of highly customisable “bowls”, built by choosing a protein (such as sesame-roasted tofu, shredded chicken breast or pulled pork) and adding a rainbow of vegetables, nuts, grains, cheeses and dressings.
There’s also a sizeable range of smoothies and smoothie bowls, plus St Ali coffee, Golden Grind turmeric lattes and Tea Culture loose-leaf teas. The cafe’s bar window conveniently connects to the food-truck area, for those who want tap beer or wine with their meals.
The second business is Saint Felix, a distillery that works primarily with fruit. It follows Nalty having a gig at The Craft & Co’s in-house distillery, and completing brandy-production training at Calvados Christian Drouin in France.
The distillery’s forte is unsurprisingly brandy, but the traditional copper-alembic still produces a few creative unaged spirits, including a “super punchy” gin infused with mastic (a sap with a musky, pine-like flavour that’s been harvested from trees on the Greek island of Chios for at least 2000 years). There’s also a Japanese-style spirit that unites yuzu and green tea, made using the distillery’s rotary evaporator (also known as a rotovap). Tastings and food pairings are available at the bar.
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