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3 Bowls Cafe highgate hill

Plate of food wrapped in plastic gift wrapping paper


3 Bowls Café is a secret temple of delicious food and warm hospitality tucked away in a gorgeous Highgate Hill colonial shopfront and is unlike anything to be found elsewhere in Brisbane.

3 Bowls Cafe shop front

At Three Bowls, patrons are not customers, they are guests, with owners Mo and Lynne treating everyone like members of their extended family. This philosophy starts with the warm welcome into a gorgeous Oriental red-hued space with chilled out music that invites hanging out, and extends to the menu, in which all food comes presented as a surprise gift that the recipient unwraps.

3 Bowls Cafe Highgate Hill

Dark wood tables are set up with three bowls* of condiments and flower petals and the leather bound menu does not list choices but simply alludes to the type of meal with clues in parentheses: Breakfasts come as Delicious and Decadent (sweet), The Individual (savoury) orTraditional with a Twist while Mains (Lunch, Supper or take Home dinner) are divided into Surprisingly Subtle (Fish), Playful and satisfying (Chicken) Epicurean Treat (Vegan/Vegetarian) or Seriously Fulfilling (Beef).

Breakfast dish served in 3 bowls

For those after something lighter there are choices of Bites (such as Comfort Food or Creamy, Tangy and Delectable) or Light (such as The Health Conscious or Fresh & Zesty). Even cakes are divided into Opposites Attract and Moist and Mouth-watering.

Chicken curry dish with rice

Regardless of choice, all of the meals or snacks come served in 3 bowls* based on Zen Buddhist philosophy and ideal for sharing.

Seating inside the cafe

The idea behind not having set choices is that Mo, who in a past life used to invite people (friends and strangers) to his home every Friday night for a big feast that he would prepare and to talk philosophy and politics, wishes to keep the guest-in-a-home element to his café. As such he prepares food according to availability of fresh ingredients and what he is inspired to offer that day. The result is delicious nurturing dishes that are prepared individually with care and a Middle Eastern influence that stems from Mo’s Lebanese heritage.

Along with the food, drinks include a range of chais, herbal and assorted loose leaf teas, espresso, fresh fruit juices and boutique soft drinks.

Glass of freshly squeezed fruit juice on table

Need to know – *The philosophy behind Three Bowls is from the Zen Buddhist tradition of mindful eating, which incorporates both concepts of joyful giving and receiving. The symbolism is that the first bowl banishes negativity, the second attracts positivity and the third represents the freeing of all beings.

Nice to know – Three Bowls is the kind of place where guests find themselves lingering and strangers chat.

In a nutshell - Those who are in a rush, hate surprises or insist on certainty will either not like Three Bowls or, more likely, if they give it a chance, will find themselves falling under its spell.