The Glass Den came to my attention through the vegan community, when there was a bit of a buzz about a new vegan menu coming up. I also love this part of Coburg, with the historic Pentridge Prison that was built in 1850 (closed in 1997) and have wandered around there many times. I was excited to hear of more vegan options around the Bell Street end of Sydney Road, but also to see what had been done with the space.
I wasn’t disappointed– it’s roomy, colourful and light filled inside with plenty of original features. It’s clearly a popular place too: there were two large smiley groups finishing up when I left and lots of people coming through.
I enjoyed spotting original features here and there– the big prison-y gates, bare bulbs and of course the bluestone walls. I loved the large tables such as the white one you see in the pics. It used to be a (very large) door. The gate door stop is even from Pentridge days of old and the chairs are a cheery mismatch from past decades:
The ‘outdoor’ space is enclosed and like the inside, it’s roomy and colourful. There’s a play space for children in the far corner (with an awesome old trunk). It’s doggy friendly too!
It was the lure of the new menu and the recommendation of the coconut hotcakes from Where’s The Beef? that drew me to The Glass Den, but I was tempted by many of the options. First off, the vegan meals sound great– very well thought out and I’ve mentioned before on the blog that I always love a vegan-options menu where you can tell at a glance that the business has really sat down and thought about how best to serve vegan customers, or those with certain dietary requirements. The Glass Den ticks all those boxes and I was also impressed with the interaction between one of the staff and the vegan communities on social media, showing they were listening to what vegan customers want.
I had gone there with the coconut hotcakes in mind but I faltered a bit when I read more of the options, like the crushed avo (seeded loaf, avocado, dukkah, coconut bacon, macerated raisins and beetroot relish, $14.90) and the crispy wonton pad Thai (crispy wonton skin, tofu, alfalfa, radish sprouts, bean shoots, chives, chili, red onion with a tamarind dressing and toasted cashews, $16.00). I was there more at brunch hour but the lunch options, like the breakfast options, are served all day. The coffee menu vegan milk options include Bonsoy, almond and coconut at a small charge and sweet accompaniments are available on the counter, including treats from vegan bakery The Compassionate Kitchen.
But coconut hotcakes ($16.00) it was. These are gluten free and are served with grilled banana, berry foam, maple syrup, candied almonds and a big dollop of a coconut cream. I was chatting with the person at the table next to me and although he had enjoyed his meal, he told me he wished he’d ordered the hotcakes too as my meal looked so nice. I saw a few of these being served and a lot of googly eyes watching the plates go past:
I also went for the flu fighter juice ($7.00) made with carrot, orange and ginger:
It was an excellent meal all up (in case the photo alone doesn’t tempt you!) I was nearly defeated and wondered if I could fit in the last couple of forkfuls and bit of juice (I did). The hotcakes were really filling and the coconut cream on top was a generous serve. Cindy from Where’s The Beef? compares the texture to a flourless almond cake and I agree. These aren’t light fluffy pillowy bouncy castle pancakes though I’m happy to say they’re far better. A truly excellent gluten free vegan breakfast, with the bonus of being available all day!
There’s also a small kids menu with the vegan option being a pancake with coconut icecream for $6.50.
Service was great too and I didn’t wait long for my order. My neighbour at the next table and I had a good chat about how meals like the hotcakes really do well to represent how awesome vegan (and gluten free) food can be.
The Glass Den are currently not open in the evenings but starting on the 30th they’ll be having happy hour on Friday nights from 4pm to 7pm with a tapas board (vegan available) and a jug of Thunder Road Brewing Company‘s Pacific Ale for $20, or the jugs for $12 until 10pm. You can follow The Glass Den’s Facebook page to keep updated.
Coburg really has itself a winner here. Located parallel to Bell Street (near the intersection with Sydney Road) and right near the Moreland Council offices, The Glass Den is easy to get to with public transport. The #19 tram stops a short walk away, along with buses 903, 527 and 513. The closest train station is Coburg. There are car parks nearby (though possibly ticketed, I’m not too sure as I use public transport to visit that area) or you can try your luck in Elm Grove, which has a few spots just off Bell Street. When you’re done with dining, take a little walk around the Pentridge site or up to Coburg Lake.
The Glass Den
15 Urquhart Street