By Jo Rittey


Going to Jethro Canteen is a little like entering a game of truth or dare. I understand that insects are going to play a large role in our diet in the future and that they are packed with nutrients and that camel’s milk is absolutely the sustainable and healthy way to go as far as milk goes. I want to embrace these progressive products which appear nonchalantly on the menu and, in fact, I should, shouldn’t I, as an adventurous food writer? But, when faced with them at breakfast time, I was a complete chicken. Having said that, I’m very happy these things are on the menu, nestled up against the mixed grain porridge, smoked trout, super green salad and the Jethro chilli dog. I think it’s important to ease gently into the realm of future eating.


Former head chef and previous co-owner of the café Merchants Guild, Paul Davies, has come on board as head chef and has a methodology built on the fairly challenging trinity of environmental consciousness, nostalgia and experimental ideas.


The coffee menu is thankfully free of coloured lattes and, instead, remains firmly grounded, if you’ll excuse the pun, in the ethos of using beautiful beans to create amazing coffee. The Shady Lane house blend and rotating single origin options are provided by Wide Open Road Coffee, along with a batch brew and cold drip, as well as a range of specialty teas, Prana chai and a healthy, sustainability-conscious latte option, featuring the aforementioned camel’s milk.


Exposed brick and beautiful hard wood tables are softened with comfy chairs the most beautiful green tiles I have seen and greenery spoiling over shelves and beams. The old, raw, industrial building in which Jethro Canteen is located is an old medical centre near the intersection of Burnley and Swan Streets.


And the name? Owner, Billy Zarbos and his wife Sarah, when pregnant with their first child, chose the names Jethro for a boy and Gwenyth for a girl. When Gwenyth arrived the cafe naturally became Jethro and both keep them equally busy.


I will be back for the ambiance, the great coffee, and one day, I’ll take a deep breath and eat the insects.


385-389 Burnley Street, Richmond

Mon – Fri 7am – 5pm (kitchen closes at 3pm)

Sat and Sun 7am – 4pm



Jo is a French teacher, a freelance writer and needs good coffee to start her day. Armed with an exotic New Zealand accent and a winning (hopefully) smile, she likes nothing better than roaming the streets of the northside in search of new and old food-related wonders.



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