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Mavis the Grocer

Delicious, ethical food with old world neighbourhood charm.
By Jo Rittey
September 23, 2015
By Jo Rittey
September 23, 2015

Mavis the Grocer is the latest addition to the burgeoning Abbotsford cafe scene. Housed in an old shop on the corner of Nicholson and Vere Streets, the quaintly named Mavis has a strong focus on creating connections with the local community. The team are striving to bring people together over nourishing food and great coffee — and by the looks of it, they're succeeding.

The renovation of the corner store has been done well. The interior is fresh and light thanks to large windows that look out onto the street. In fact, it feels a little as though you are entering a big old neighbourhood kitchen with its weatherboard walls, wooden crates of fruit and greenery sprouting from pots.

The menu has the usual brunch suspects with a few twists thrown in. Homemade muesli and eggs are breakfast menu staples, but a brown rice, steamed greens and tofu brekky bowl ($16) muscles in on the latest breakfast salad trend. Delicious bread is made on the premises and accompanies several of the dishes, including the slow braised spicy beans with a cheesy herb sourdough crust ($15). Citrus-cured salmon with roast and raw beetroot ($18) is a rich, yet healthy dish, and certainly meets the requirement of being photogenic, as did the flashback to childhood pikelets with sweet ricotta, strawberries and honeycomb ($15).

As you move towards lunchtime, there is a selection of sandwiches (fresh and toasted), salads, and a specials board with more European-style slow cooked offerings, such as local mussels cooked in a tomato, fennel, chilli and basil broth, a risotto, and polpette. These reappear with more evening appeal when the sun starts to dip, the candles are lit and a glass of wine or a local beer is possible.

Coffee is by Seven Seeds, with a permanent house blend and a single-origin blend that are well executed by knowledgeable baristas. There are also smoothies, cold pressed juices, kombucha and organic tea by Tielka.

Co-owners Maurice Manno and Dan Zeidan — responsible for Collingwood favourites Lazerpig and The Grace Darling Hotel — are serious about their philosophy of using seasonal, local, sustainable or organic produce. All suppliers are chosen according to their ethical and environmental practices. The Mavis team want to minimise waste, reduce food mileage and keep their overall environmental impact as small as possible. Food scraps are reused as compost, farming and to feed their chickens. And as well as outdoor pavement seating, there's a heated courtyard out the back with a healthy looking veggie patch, which contributes to the kitchen's creations.

In keeping with the grocer aspect of its personality, there is a small range of artisan products are for sale. Organic milk, pasta, olive oil, homemade jam and — intriguingly, but patriotically — jars of vegemite adorn the shelves. There are take home meals available too, making Mavis a bit of a one-stop, wonderful destination for your conscience, your belly and your need for community connection.

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