Where: Terror Twilight, 13/11–13 Johnston Street Collingwood
What: Sumac-crusted avocado, which are not two ingredients I’ve ever tasted together, but I can’t have one without thinking of the other now
Who: Resident Photographer
Bloat score: 0 – Living the dream
It was with a great sense of dismay that I learnt Bedford Street, which used to serve fried chicken waffles for breakfast, was being revitalised as Terror Twilight – a café specialising in deconstructed bowls and broths, smoothies named after fitspo aerobic sessions like ‘Body Movin’ and ‘Go Flex’, and ‘upgrades’ in the form of oils that you could add to your coffee to ‘get the most out of your day’ and ‘provide fast and sustaining energy’.
Cynicism aside, Resident Photographer and I could have used such restorative oils in our coffee after having registered ourselves for an all-day grammar course nearby. We instead opted for a DIY bowl each. You can choose a base of steamed brown rice, quinoa and freekeh, or cauliflower and broccoli rice plus a vegetarian salad and protein. The good thing about the bowl was that I was certain I’d be able to customise it to be onion and garlic-free because the last thing you want to do in an all-day course is asphyxiate the person sitting behind you.
The first choice I had to make was an easy one because freekeh isn’t gluten-free and cauliflower rice would have wreaked havoc on my digestive system, so brown rice it was.
After this, all hell broke loose. When I last went, the bowls were operating under a slightly different system where you could choose three vegetarian sides, a dressing and a protein side. I chose the roasted sweet potato (strike 1 for a FODMAP-intolerant person but I wanted something hearty), heirloom tomatoes, seasonal greens, a cashew dressing (strike 2 for a FODMAP-intolerant person but it sounded superior to the lemon vinaigrette and spiced yoghurt) and fresh silken tofu (strike 3 for a FODMAP-intolerant person because unlike firm tofu, silken tofu is high in fructans and galacto-oligosaccharides). When informing the waitstaff of my intolerances – I mentioned only the onion and garlic because the full gamut would have flummoxed her – she told me the sweet potato was roasted in a marinade that had onion and garlic, and so I replaced it with the avo + lemon (something else I shouldn’t have been eating). At the very least, I reasoned to myself, everything on my bowl would be devoid of wheat, onion and garlic. I tried.
Resident Photographer went through a more painless process in choosing the ingredients of his bowl and opted for steamed brown rice with roasted sweet potato, turmeric-spiced cauliflower, seasonal greens, the same cashew dressing I chose and poached chicken.
I didn’t expect to enjoy my bowl as much as I did. The cashew dressing was smooth, rich and predictably nutty, going especially well with the seasonal greens, and the crunch of the beans and the sesame seeds drizzled over the firm tofu added texture to the bowl. The avocado was prepared in an interesting way, where it appeared to be dipped in sumac. Paired with a few squeezes of the accompanying lemon and a generous spoonful of brown rice, all my ingredients were in sync with one another and complemented each other perfectly.
Resident Photography was less positively disposed to his bowl. He found the poached chicken overly gelatinous and didn’t enjoy the combination of ingredients in his bowl, finding the sweet potato too mushy an accompaniment to the already viscous chicken. He did however enjoy the cashew dressing, the turmeric-spiced cauliflower and the seasonal greens – you win some, you lose some.
I may have won some by escaping with zero bloats despite eating many ingredients that I shouldn’t have, but both Resident Photographer and I noted the steep price tag attached to our relatively small bowls. Mine came up to $20.50, which felt slightly pricey for something that almost exclusively contained vegetables, and Resident Photographer’s came up to $21.50 due to his choice of chicken.
Although I didn’t have a coffee on this occasion, Terror Twilight has almond milk and soy milk for those of us who can’t ingest lactose. It also has a batch brew, a cold brew, a pour over, something called a chai la lai and a coconut brew which my friend Dreamcatcher (who last appeared in my four-bloat review of Camus) swears by.
I’m slightly disappointed that Terror Twilight tweaked its DIY bowl menu – I really liked the option of that cashew dressing and the combination of ingredients that I ordered, but there are a few things that have caught my eye otherwise: from the cold smoked kingfish to the gluten-free chia and matcha pudding. I may be back, but with the unrelenting wave of new cafes that continue to mushroom in every corner of Melbourne, it may be a while until me and that sumac-crusted avocado meet again.
Terror Twilight is open from 8am to 5pm on Sunday, from 7am to 4pm Monday to Friday and from 7am to 5pm on Saturday.