“Normally you do anything to keep bugs out of a salad,” says head chef Paul Davies.
Not so at Jethro Canteen, where there’s a Vietnamese roasted-cricket salad, and a bowl of the insects listed as a side dish.
“We started with crickets as they’re the most approachable bug,” says Billy Zarbos, who owns the Richmond cafe with his wife, Sarah. “It’s been really well received. It’s by no means our biggest seller, but it’s definitely our biggest talking point.”
Sourced from the Edible Bug Shop, whose breeding facility is in western Sydney, the insects arrive pre-roasted and packed like a bag of chips.
“I’m very keen to get the conversation started about eating bugs,” says Zarbos, who adds that insects are a nutritious, vitamin-packed form of protein that requires less water and land to farm than other meat sources. “I think it’s going to be a big thing, whether it’s in one year or 10 years. It’s a small part of our menu, and it by no means defines us, but it’s something I was really keen on doing as a point of difference.”
Crickets are a new ingredient for chef Davies, a former co-owner at The Merchant’s Guild. He has put together a menu that also provides for the less adventurous.
The Louisiana plate, with corn remoulade, chilli prawns and a jalapeno popper, is already a hit. As is a smoked-trout dish with sweet potato, fried eggs and sweet-pea pesto. Waffles come with roasted pear, honeyjoy crumble and a cereal-milk panna cotta (the milk used for the panna cotta has been steeped in cornflakes).
Manager Tara Cairnduff, who previously managed Camberwell’s Bar None is behind the recipe for the cafe’s house-made lemonade and cola, and already has plans to use the homemade cola in a Cuban Libre when the liquor licence comes through. Coffee is supplied by Wide Open Road.
Jethro Canteen also offers camel’s milk, which is naturally lower in lactose and fat than regular cow’s milk. When frothed in a latte it has a notable density and richness to it, with a hint of salt, though not a particularly distinguishing taste.
385–389 Burnley Street, Richmond
(03) 9421 2900