First Look: Short Eats Café

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It’s a funky van like no other, and while Short Eats might be tiny, it never lacks flavor. But now the food truck has found a bigger home on the south side, and it has a new menu to match.

Located in the growing foodie neighborhood of Furzer Street, Woden (just around the corner from The Alby and eighty-six south), Short Eats Café has officially opened.

Offering a Sri Lankan take on a traditional Aussie cafe, Short Eats owner Michael de Silva has revamped a menu that showcases the bold flavors that made his van so popular.

“I’ve always done Western-style coffees, then when COVID hit I sold my coffee and brought the van,” says Michael.

“I hadn’t thought of returning to the cafe scene until this spot was created. But then I decided there was a lot of competition here and the only way to survive was to do something very different.

Serving breakfast and lunch six days a week (with the hope of eventually opening for dinner), Michael says he wanted to differentiate himself from other cafes in the area with his unusual menu (which includes a few Western favorites ) and its own specialty coffee. Beans.

Working closely with business partner DD Mishra, former manager of Espresso Warriors, they have come up with a signature coffee blend that pairs perfectly with the menu.

“A lot of people associate Sri Lanka with teas – and Sri Lankan coffees, like our food, are usually quite intense in flavor,” says Michael. “Specialty coffee is fairly new to Sri Lanka, and I’ve said from the start that I wanted to change the way people look at Southeast Asia… You associate wine with food, so why no coffee for breakfast?

While the cafe alone is worth a visit, what makes Short Eats breakfast offerings truly unique is that everything – and we mean everything – comes in the form of a toastie.

“We found that people here don’t have time to sit down and eat breakfast,” says Michael. “That’s why we moved all of our breakfast products to toast.”

“For example with the Lankan breakfast you usually get curry, eggs and bread so we just changed it to a toastie.”

And that’s only the beginning. The Sri Lankan egg Benedict toastie is filled with a curry hollandaise sauce, while the steak and egg offering includes slow-cooked peppered chunks of lamb with capsicum and a fried egg. For a sweet treat, a toast of Lankan toast (with palm sugar, cream and seasonal fruits) is also available.

If that’s not enough, four different smoothies are also on offer, including a Chunky Monkey, Michael’s favourite.

“Our breakfast is different. I want people to want to travel here for breakfast because it’s something you can’t get anywhere else. It’s for people with an open mind, who want that little something different. These are the people we want to attract,” says Michael.

While the breakfast menu is new territory for Short Eats, the lunch menu returns to what makes the stylish Tiffany blue van so popular: dishes from the heart and inspired by home.

“I learned to cook with my mother. I was a professional chef, but I was a western style chef. For the past 15 years I have learned from my mother and she has no chef training,” says Michael. “So the flavors are very authentic and I didn’t want to change that.”

Including dishes like Chicken Biryani (spicy yellow rice with chicken, yogurt, Sri Lankan-style salad and a boiled egg) and String Hoppers (a delicious combination of three homemade curries, noodles rice, coconut sambol and papadam), most dishes are gluten and dairy free, with vegetarian and vegan options.

But if you fancy something quick and easy, you’re spoiled for choice, including ham, cheese and tomato toast, panrolls, banana bread and gluten-free brownies.

It was Michael’s love of fusion that also inspired the unique interiors of Short Eats Cafe. Open and airy, the space features a giant graffiti-style mural of Michael and DD, as well as a traditional Sri Lankan mask that represents commerce.

While the café is already becoming a popular spot on Furzer Street, Michael and DD have many plans for the future, including using the space for functions, offering a special weekend menu – without toast – and open small satellite shops to sell their specialty. coffee and pastries.

But for now, Michael’s ultimate goal is to continue to introduce Canberrans to his vision of traditional Sri Lankan cuisine. But don’t worry, the Short Eats van isn’t going anywhere.


What: Short Eats Cafe
When: 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday to Saturday. Close on Sunday.
Where: G06/35 Furzer Street, Phillip
Instagram: @shorteatscafe

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