Franco Caruso knows that the way we eat has changed. “When I started cooking 20 years ago, vegetarians were an afterthought,” he says. “But now people’s lifestyles have changed, people want to be healthier. It’s not just the vegetarians who want to eat vegetarian.”

He also recognises that sometimes all we want is a dirty burger and a beer.

It’s why the menu at Fitzroy’s New School Canteen, the all-day eatery Caruso owns with his wife Karen (they also own Lolo and Wren and Rude Boy Burgers, both in Brunswick West) and head chef Hamish Francois Cornelius, caters to vegans, vegos and meat-eaters. “If your boyfriend is a mad carnivore, but you’d prefer something light and fresh, we’ve got lots of beautiful options for both,” Caruso says.

More than half the menu is vegetarian or vegan (or vegan adaptable). Options for breakfast and brunch include The Green Canteen with free-range eggs, wilted “super greens”, feta, avocado, mushrooms and Bloody Mary relish. And the Scotch: a Scotch egg with pork and leek stuffing on grilled, cheesy toast. There’s banoffee porridge with caramelised banana and date compote, and hotcakes with toffee apple and mascarpone. This menu runs until 4pm.

Available all day – until around 10pm – is a big list of burgers, of which almost half are vegetarian or vegan. Deep-fried cheddar croquettes; slabs of grilled cauliflower; or a chilli and spring onion potato pancake replace the meat or chicken patties. Caruso is also passionate about using native Australian produce; finger lime, Warrigal greens, ice plant and salt bush appear all over the menu.

Coffee is by Seven Seeds and there’s beers, cider and wine on the drinks list.

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“We’re just trying to be on the pulse of what people are eating these days,” says Caruso. “We’re championing Australian native ingredients, we’re using top produce, we’re recognising that sometimes people want to eat vegetarian. It’s the way I like to eat as well.”

New School Canteen
379–381 George Street, Fitzroy

Mon to Fri 7am–10pm
Sat & Sun 8am–10pm