3

Dinner At Smith and Bellas

Last week, a group of vegan food enthusiasts met up for dinner at Smith & Daughters (currently a.k.a. Smith & Bellas), to try out the new winter menu which is all Italian themed. Now I’ll admit when I first heard the menu was Italian I felt disappointed. I love Italian food, but I’m very used to it either with what I make at home, and that there a million Italian restaurants in Melbourne.

Well, I should have just done a Bon Jovi and kept the faith because some of the dishes I tried were excellent and I’d go back to have them again, despite my personal rule of never ordering the same thing twice when there’s more on the menu to try.

We each paid $55 (or was it $58?) excluding drinks for these plates-to-share. The menu also boasts a number of gluten free options.

First up, the meatballs ($12 for three). I loved these and counted them as an excellent start. I don’t know what’s in them but I would love these on top of spaghetti. The texture was quite meatbally and the napoli sauce lovely.  Low light photos with my phone sorry, I decided to leave the camera at home because I wanted to enjoy the food and not have the hassle of trying to take great pics:

Next was the garlic bread ($8, has a gluten free option), which reminded me there’s standard okay garlic bread but also, like this, bloody good garlic bread:

Next, the carpaccio ($18). House made thin slices of mock meat, topped with horseradish cream, figs, fried capers, shaved parmessan and a mountain of rocket. Another standout for me:

Now moving in to the Big Plates and Pasta section of the menu, we had the gnocchi ($22) with broccoli rabe pesto, cream, chilli and lemon. Gnocchi done perfectly:

I was especially looking forward to trying the ragu on polenta ($24, gluten free), as I’d heard so many positive comments about it. I’m not really in to polenta, but as a shared plate arrangement it’s fine. I agreed with the positive comments on the ragu and it was my favourite of the night. The slow-cooked texture and appearance was wonderful and I loved the red wine flavour. The polenta was very good too. I want to return just to have this again:

From here we had a couple of sides come out. First up the creamed silverbeet with chilli and preserved lemon ($10, gluten free). I liked the flavours but as silverbeet is one of my least favourite veggies, I just had a little sample and passed on the rest. Others at the table loved it:

I’m also not that keen on Jerusalem artichokes, so the slow braised artichoke-leek-fennel Cheesy Gratin ($14) was something else I had a little sample of and left for others:

The silverbeet and artichoke sides came out at the same time as the Milanese schnitzel in a parmesan lemon herbed crumb ($25). The menu says it’s big. I say it’s massive. I wouldn’t recommend getting it for less than three people sharing and even then I’d say it’s perhaps better for four people sharing a number of dishes. While I really liked this, and it was very chicken-schnitzely, there was a bit of a general agreement that it needed something to go with it like a sauce. It’s essentially a huge tasty slab of mock meat, though the sides of silverbeet and cheesy gratin could have added that little something:

Then we were on to dessert. I loved the tiramisu ($16), which is the closest-to-dairy-tiramisu vegan tiramisu I’ve had to date:

Finally, the bomb Alaska style Baked Vesuvius ($15). This was a lovely mix of chocolate sable and ganache, spiced quinces and black pepper ice cream smothered in a quince and amaretto Italian meringue and torched in front of us. Very nice:

I really enjoyed this meal and had my initial disappointment of a new Italian menu totally, and rightfully, obliterated. I’m trying to find an opportunity to go back now because there’s more on the menu that looks great: the braised broccoli crostini, baked eggplant involtini, rigatoni napolitani caponata, cacio e pepe, tubetti in brodo and the limoncello rice pudding.

Cindy and Michael over at Where’s the Beef? have a great writeup on Smith & Bella’s here.

 

Smith & Daughters

175 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy

http://www.smithanddaughters.com/

3

Ubuntu Vegan Cafe In Hawthorn

Ubuntu Vegan Cafe is another one of Melbourne’s brand new all-vegan additions, this time on Burwood Road in Hawthorn. I’d seen a few photos of some lovely looking meals and today was the day, thanks to an Instagram photo of a hot chocolate. It’s cold and rainy today, therefore perfect for a good hot chocolate.

I was told the Wholesome French Toast ($20) wasn’t too sweet and that sounded good to me, so that’s what I went with plus the Mork hot chocolate with a house made blend of cashew and coconut milk:  

Both were excellent. The French toast is described as ‘thick cut brioche pan fried and topped with whipped mascarpone, berry compote, crushed pistachios and maple syrup’. I was tempted by the Big Breakfast ($24, ‘sunny side up or scrambled egg with smashed avo, haloumi, crispy tempeh, blanched kale, portobello mushroom stuffed with pistachio pane croccante, served with buttered sourdough’), though I’m not that keen on tempeh so French toast it was. The person next to me had the Big Breakfast and it looked beautiful.

There are gluten free options and all the desserts in the cabinet are raw and GF. The menu also boasts some Superfood Lattes such as the intriguing-sounding Butterfly Pea Flower Latte ($7, ‘butterfly pea flower (Blue Tea), maca, lucuma, monk fruit juice, natural dates, cinnamon and all spice’). Maybe next time, because today for me was all about that lovely hot chocolate.

The cafe is nice and bright with friendly and helpful staff. It’s a short walk from Glenferrie train station and the Victorian Telecommunications Museum which is open to the public on the last Wednesday of the month from 10-3. The museum is awesome, I suggest you visit then follow it up with a meal at Ubuntu for a good day out!

Ubuntu Vegan Cafe

460 Burwood Road

Hawthorn

https://www.facebook.com/ubuntuvegancafe/

http://www.ubuntuvegancafe.com

 

4

Excellent Sandwiches From Sandwitch

A couple of weeks ago I had planned to go to Coburg Farmers Market but didn’t end up going. I kicked myself later on when I saw an Instagram photo of a new stall called Sandwitch and how they had vegan options. Aaand how I had missed out because I stayed home. I checked out Sandwitch’s Facebook and Instagram: ‘enchanted plant based North African street food’ and kicked myself even more.

Well today Sandwitch were back at Coburg Farmers Market (which has now moved to the new location at Coburg Primary School on Bell Street) and I wasn’t going to miss out. The two pita-style sandwiches on display, both in ‘Moroccan style bread’ looked great and I went with the Hash-Burger ($12): ‘sliced warm eggplant and potato fritter, on a bed of slow-cooked red delish capsicum matbucha salad and fresh lettuce’, seeing as the description contained three of my favourite words (eggplant, potato and fritter).

This was fantastic and immediately rocked in to my top three favourite sandwiches/pita foods. I wish I’d taken the big camera to get better photos but I only had my phone on me today. Beautiful fresh flavours, perfect eggplant and bread. So, so good:

And because it was so good, it meant I had to go back and splurge on the Colli-sour sandwich: ‘crispy cauliflower between layers of pickles, green salad and topped with preserved lemon tahini’. Sure, it meant I ran out of money to buy, well, vegetables but hey I now have a new number one sandwich in my life. This was so freaking good:

… and while I was there, I tried the ‘sweet dessert delight ($8): coconut milk cream, flavoured with rosewater, topped with crushed nuts, coconut, 7 spices and hibiscus syrup’. Now, I don’t even like rosewater much but because the two sandwiches were so good, I wanted to try it. This was really good too, no overpowering rosewater and not too sweet either. I’m getting it again next time:

The hummus menu item ($10) is gluten free. There was some eggplant and salad sitting in the middle of a plate of hummus so perhaps it gets served with veggies like that. It looked pretty good! I also had a sample of a delicious lentil chickpea soup, which I’d like to have in the future.

Sandwitch are at farmers markets, so keep an eye on their Facebook and Instagram pages to learn where they’ll be next.

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Sandwitchau/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sandwitchau/

 

3

Lunch At Cafe 435 In Pascoe Vale

Pascoe Vale has a new all-vegan cafe: Cafe 435 on Kent Road. It’s located in a strip of shops and marks the first all-vegan cafe in this area.

The menu is quite sizeable, with a few Middle Eastern, Turkish and Greek/Cypriot dishes in amongst the burgers on offer. My sister and I employed our system, that being we never order the same dish as the other, instead getting two separate meals and having half each. I forgot to take photos of the menu and so can’t remember the names or prices, but we got the double pattie ‘Big’ burger and another with salad and mayo (possiblly called the Vopper). Each burger came with a large bowl of chips.

The patties I don’t believe are house made, but the burgers were tasty nonetheless. The dessert menu had loads on offer, with many treats by one of my favourites, The Compassionate Kitchen. Baklava and kadaifi were in the desserts cabinet but we were way too stuffed for any more food.

Cafe 435 is spacious inside with loads of outdoor seating and a play area for kids:

 

Brunswick and Coburg tend to be the more vegan friendly areas in the inner north, so it’s pretty good to see Pascoe Vale, which is the next suburb to the north-west, on the map too. Pascoe Vale has a handful of very vegan friendly places, but an all-vegan place is fantastic to see.

Cafe 435

104 Kent Road

Pascoe Vale 

https://www.facebook.com/Cafe-435-570396236661717/

5

Blissful Station in Box Hill Central

Blissful Station is an all-vegan food outlet at Box Hill Central shopping centre and train station. It’s been around for a while now but I never got the chance to visit because I’m never in that part of town. I was today though, well about ten minutes away by bus so I made sure to make time for a quick visit.

First I did two laps of the food court to find Blissful Station. I had to ask someone for help and it turned out Blissful Station is located more towards the market/fruit-veg area (judging by the huge ‘market’ sign) than in the main food court.

We were in a bit of a hurry so I just went with the advertised vegan lunch special, which was $9.90 for a large serve of rice and the three mains on offer:

We also got a radish cake and a zucchini pastie, which I’m sure contained the same filling you get in the dumplings. It was pretty good but my favourite was the sweet potato peanut ball:

For a quick fix food court meal, Blissful Station is a great option.

Blissful Station – Vegan Wisdom

Box Hill Central Shopping Centre