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 the same building that was home to the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service almost twenty years ago.

The smart service and elegant decor 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 commissioned from Victorian indigenous artists.

Charcoal Lane's dishes are contemporary, complex and well presented. Items like the Wallaby sirloin with parma ham, sweet potato and rosella flower on a red wine and pepperleaf jus, or the fan fillet of emu roasted with brussel sprouts and Kaiser Flesh bacon and potato gratinshowcase a subtlety and tenderness to native meat.

They're 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 the cooking and teaching in the kitchen at Charcoal Lane.