Chameleon Junction is a place where the owners’ principles hold strong, from emphasising sustainable practices to refusing to bend to the assumed requirements a venue needs to survive in Melbourne.
The eatery doesn't have smashed avocado on its menu. Don’t expect to find any almond milk, either.
“We don’t believe almond milk complements coffee well,” says co-owner Harriet Pellizzer. “And there are plenty amazing things to eat other than smashed avocado. So many places do it well, so we figured we’d leave it off the menu.”
Instead there are pea fritters with poached egg, smoked almond crumb and goat’s cheese – a bestseller. Vegan black porridge is also on offer, with wild rice, black rice and quinoa, caramelised banana, macadamia granola and coconut yoghurt.
After 11am you’ll find dishes such as the sesame soba noodles with greens, marinated tofu and enoki mushroom, as well as gnocchi with sage, brussel sprouts and roasted root vegetables.
“We have healthy things, but also have things like the Three Little Pigs – which is bacon cooked three ways,” says co-owner and head chef “Tinka” Lander. He and his wife Meadhbh Ni Flannagain also own wholesale business Tinka’s Fine Food Emporium. This is their first public venue.
True to its name, Chameleon Junction morphs throughout the day, opening as a cafe, then transforming into a restaurant and bar at night. Importantly, the kitchen stays open continually, with no break in service.
“We didn’t want to make the mistake of setting up this space solely to serve as a cafe, and decide to open at nights later down the track with a cafe whose design doesn’t allow for it,” Lander says.
Lander’s father played a huge role in the fit-out, recycling timber from his farm to make Chameleon Junction’s four-metre-long communal table, the panelling on the back wall, and the bar countertop – all with his own hands.
“We don’t like to waste too much, and also try to use products that are environmentally friendly wherever possible,” Pellizzer says. “All of our takeaway containers, cups and lids are made from sugar, corn and/or plant products. We also try to source ingredients locally, including our free-range organic eggs from South Gippsland. Our coffee grounds go to our egg farmer, too, which are composted and are very useful for growing other vegetables.”
Chameleon Junction supplies food to nearby bottle-o Grape and Grain during its wine bar nights. Grape and Grain sends beers back the other way. The wine list, curated by Pellizzer, features wines to complement the menu’s Mediterranean and Asian flavours.
Shop 4, 4–6 Station St, Moorabbin
(03) 8525 1757
Mon to Sun 6.30am–11pm