When you find the coming together of good coffee and a good conscience, great things usually follow. Fest of Merit, the newest venture from youth social enterprise YGAP, proves this to be true. Found in an open space on Swan Street in Richmond, they haven't held back on the interior. It's raw, exposed and perfectly executed. Hanging lights and plants finish the look perfectly (as do the handsome wait staff, but that's a whole other story).
As YGAP's newest project, Feast of Merit donates all of their profits to youth education and youth leadership in Malawi, Ghana, Rwanda, Bangladesh, Cambodia and Australia. On top of this they focus on seasonal produce, raw foods and locally sourced drinks. Local, ethical and sustainable food is served up with a distinct Middle Eastern flavour.
The breakfast menu caters to a range of tastes with the sweeter side of things looking like Bircher muesli, coconut water, apricot, pistachios, and hung yoghurt ($11.50) and a bowl of backyard fruits, chia seeds, orange blossom, yoghurt ice and smoked almonds ($12.50). For those going down the savoury path, you can opt for the young asparagus, ricotta and avocado with harissa toast and a soft egg ($16) or the beetroot (pickled, raw and roasted) with wild rice, candied walnuts, salted ricotta and za'atar spice ($13.50).
Lunch is a 'choose your own adventure' experience with three salads available with three optional proteins for a more hearty meal. You might see a roasted Dutch carrot, mint, pistachio, currant, freekeh, harissa and preserved lemon salad topped with roasted Milawa chicken. Job done.
Smoothies, juices, and digestives dominate the drinks list with a raw almond milk creation calling out our name. Warning: raw treats may tempt you as you're paying the cheque. But don't worry — your money is going to a good cause.