18

What I Ate: The Smith & Deli Edition

Smith & Deli croissants

Wowwww I’ve been mega slack with the What I Ates yet again, so I’ve decided to make lateness with What I Ate posts a regular theme.

For this What I Ate, I’m featuring a mega backlog bunch of eats from one of my favourite vegan places, Smith & Deli in Fitzroy. I blogged about Smith & Deli shortly after they opened last year and you can read my review here. Since then I’ve had plenty of visits and still maintain that their Home Alone sandwich (which is like a roast meal in a bread roll) is one of the best sandwiches anywhere, any time. Here it is, I can’t even look at a photo of it without making big pathetic lovesick eyes:

Smith & Deli Home Alone

Then there was the exciting day where Smith & Deli had made a deep dish pizza. This was so good, I started eating it right outside instead of taking it home to eat it warmed up with salad on the side. Pffft salad. Ha ha, so good I started eating before taking a photo:

Smith & Deli deep dish pizza

They make a pretty good Reubenstein too:

Smith & Deli Reuben

The Little Havana. Look at all that meltiness! Birdy likes it:

Smith & Deli Little Havana sandwich

I probably took this photo sitting down outside somewhere, given the head-in-the-feedbag angle. This is the Wiggum:

Smith & Deli Wiggum

I loved the Maury Ballstein which is meatbally and another excellent offering:

Smith & Deli Maury Ballstein

The Truffle Shuffle has vegan ham, cheese and truffle oil. Tasty with excellent bread, but a bit too rich for me:

Smith & Deli Truffle Shuffle

Aaaand because I’m ages late with this What I Ate I’ll bombard you with some pics of Melbourne scenes (well, Brunswick, Fitzroy and Footscray specifically).

blue fencepostbackyard flowers old scale

footscray window Footscray housestreets and roads

Have a fabulous week folks!

 

10

Fina’s 2 Vegan Restaurant, Fitzroy

Fina's 2 Vegan Restaurant Fitzroy

Fina’s 2 Vegan Restaurant is a relatively new-ish restaurant (about a year old) in the heart of vegan town– Brunswick Street in Fitzroy. Like Fina’s Vegetarian Cafe in Richmond, Fina’s 2 boasts delicious Vietnamese cuisine, though Fina’s 2 is all-vegan.

The menu itself is the sort I appreciate most because there are pictures of everything. I make no secret of the fact I get more use out of cookbooks that have pretty pictures, but that’s not for here. Aaaanyway, moving on people, I went for my default in Vietnamese restaurants which is pretty much any kind of curry and a noodle salad. After ordering I realised I’d ordered the same (or similar) curry the last time I went to Fina’s in Richmond but that’s cool cos I really like it. This one didn’t disappoint either, though I did sneak some of the tofu from the vermicelli noodle salad in to the curry sauce just to up the amount of tofu. The photo is up the top and I had it with white rice.

The noodle salad was great too, full of tofu, chopped spring rolls and those beautiful fresh flavours of Vietnamese cooking. It’s served with a small bowl of sweet dressing, or you can dunk your spring rolls in to it:

Fina's 2 Vegan Restaurant Fitzroy

On one other occassion I ordered the satay chicken claypot with rice. This was really tasty though it’s only mock meat and no veg and didn’t have the kind of satay taste I was expecting. I ordered it by mistake, thinking I was getting the similar menu item with veggies. It’s the kind of dish to order when you’re with a group and can share it out:

Fina's 2 Vegan Restaurant Fitzroy

The kids wanted a drink and both decided on the strawberry frappe made with crushed ice. I tried a bit and it was nice, not sickly sweet as I was expecting. It was sweet, but not waaaay sweet. Arthur and DeeW said they’ll try the mango frappe next time:

Fina's 2 Vegan Restaurant Fizroy

We visited around 1pm for lunch and the place was pretty busy, though the two serving staff were great and our meals and drinks were on the table in ten minutes. Same with when we visited around 8:30pm. It was really busy at that time but again our food came out quickly.

Fina's 2 Vegan Restaurant Fitzroy

I can see myself back at Fina’s 2 any time now. It took me long enough to get there (almost a year… losing vegan food blogger points for that) so I gotta make up for it and eat through the menu. Problem is so much looks great, I’ll have to take a Nerf gun or something and fire randomly at a picture of food to make my choice. Other menu options included a banh mi, pho, grilled pork skewer, rice paper rolls, spring rolls, tofu dishes, stir fry veg with tofu, Vietnamese pancake and more. The desserts cabinet was heartily stocked with goodies from some of Melbourne’s great vegan businesses like The Compassionate Kitchen and Rawfully Healthy.

Fina’s 2 has been visited by Where’s The Beef? and Not My Bread and Butter.

FIna’s 2 Vegan Restaurant

339 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy

https://www.facebook.com/Finascafe2

Fina's Vegetarian Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Fina's 2 Vegan Restaurant Fitzroy

 

12

The Harvest: A Vegan Degustation at Transformer, Fitzroy

Harvest Vegan Degustation at Transformer

With a number of vegan degustation evenings happening around Melbourne this time of year, I was happy to see Transformer were holding their own vegan evening. I enjoyed my first dinner there back in July and this seemed like a great opportunity to go back!

‘The Harvest- Celebrating the Best in Vegan’ was Transformer’s first ever completely vegan dinner, held on October 22nd, showcasing organic spring harvest ingredients in a seven course degustation. We had the choice of the food on its own, or paired with Australian vegan wines and cocktails. The latter was my choice, I rarely drink alcohol but I was really keen to try the pairings. There was a beautifully designed sheet at each place setting giving us some hints about what we’d be having.

Harvest Vegan Degustation at Transformer

I forgot to take a pen to write everything down because my memory isn’t the greatest when I’m around great food I want to get in my face, so many thanks to Lydia at Transformer for emailing me the tasting notes.

Our first Nibbles course was * hazelnut polenta with tofu cream cheese, sous vide mandarin and micro thyme * Pickled vegetables with dry miso * Tomato tartare with hijiki and nori on a lotus chip * Paired with gin garden aperitif cocktail

These were delicious, though I loved the flavourful tomato tartare more. The cocktail is pictured further down below with the sprig of thyme:Harvest Vegan Degustation at Transformer

Harvest Vegan Degustation at Transformer

We were off to a great start! When the second course came out I was rapt to see it included pulled jackfruit as I’ve never had it before (making me potentially one of the last vegans in the village who haven’t) and this was fantastic. Probably my favourite of the night.

* Activated Charcoal Steamed Bun with BBQ jack fruit and Sriracha mayo * Paired with a lime and coriander elixir:Harvest Vegan Degustation at Transformer

I suspect the charcoal steamed bun was a favourite with others in my group but the asparagus Hollandaise served next won some praise for the Australian morel mushrooms which were great– I’m not adventurous with mushrooms other than your standard button shape but these morels were really good. I also enjoyed the Hollandaise sauce and we had a bit of a discussion about what the ingredients could be. I’m also not a huge asparagus fan unless it’s done properly (too many overcooked spears in my time) but these were prepared beautifully.

* New season asparagus, yuzu hollandaise, morel mushrooms, edamame, cherry tomatoes + purple basil * Paired with 2011 Box Grove Vineyard Roussanne:

Harvest Vegan Degustation at Transformer

Next up was artichoke with garlic puree. The black garlic puree was caramelised for four to six weeks and for me, made this dish. I’m not big on artichokes and can take them or leave them (mostly leave) but with the garlic puree, they were dressed up beautifully. The green strip in the photo is shaved artichoke.

* Globe artichokes with warrigal greens, broad beans, black garlic puree,capers and chilli * Paired with 2014 Sam Miranda Arneis from the King Valley:

Harvest Vegan Degustation at Transformer

The Tofu Dashi was next. The tofu came out in a bowl, with a plate of peas alongside. The broth was then poured in to our bowls. This was lovely, not as fully flavoured as other dishes but still good.

* Crispy silken tofu, fresh truffle and smoked dashi * Paired with 2015 Save our Souls Sangiovese:

Harvest Vegan Degustation at Transformer

Time for the ‘chocolate + peanut surprise’! Chocolate and peanuts, I knew I’d love it. I thought it would be some kind of pudding or small tart but nope, it was a soy based ice cream with salted peanut and coated in dark chocolate with gold leaf. A very nice surprise indeed, the sort of thing where if I made say a dozen of these at home, I’d eat a dozen in one day.

* Chocolate + Salted Peanut Surprise ice cream stick * Paired with Prickly Moses Otway Stout:

Harvest Vegan Degustation at Transformer

Then the slightly sad part of the evening where you realise this is the final course but wow, what a stunner. The aged rice pudding had a crispy sugary shell and was truly excellent. Don’t even think ‘mehhh, rice pudding’ for a nanosecond! This was superb and I snuck looks at my dining companions and they were all nodding along about how excellent this was. A fantastic end to a night of wonderful food!

* Aged rice pudding with compressed pineapple, rum foam and a caramelised banana passion fruit sorbet * Paired with House made Tea and Coffee cocktails:

Harvest Vegan Degustation at Transformer

For our final beverage (with the aged rice pudding) we had the choice of a coffee or tea cocktail. The tea cocktail (shown with the sliced pear below) was an Earl Grey Tea with Laphroaig 1/4 Cask. I chose the Averna + cold filtered coffee cocktail (pictured with the raspberry, mint and citrus peel). I don’t drink coffee but figured this would be a good choice as everything else had been so good and I was correct:

Harvest Vegan Degustation at Transformer

The food and service were both excellent. The wait times between courses were well spaced out and we weren’t left waiting for ages. I found everything well paced and left there very, very happy– happy enough to sign up to the next Transformer degustation as soon as I see it advertised.

Many thanks to the staff at Transformer who made this such an enjoyable evening! And many thanks to my dining buddies too who waited patiently while I took photos– a difficult task when the food was so lovely.

Transformer

97-99 Rose Street

Fitzroy

http://www.transformerfitzroy.com/  to book online

https://www.facebook.com/transformerfitzroy  for more information

17

Dinner At Transformer, Fitzroy

Transformer, Fitzroy

I visited Transformer for dinner about two weeks ago to catch up with a friend who was visiting from out of town. Located in Fitzroy near other popular vegan and vegetarian eateries, Transformer offers an elegant, mock-meat free vegetarian and vegan dining experience from the owners of Vegie Bar and Rice Queen.

I was the first to arrive and took my time checking out the interior. I love the space inside: exposed brick, recycled timber, lots of greenery, brass fittings and high ceilings as shown in the top pic. In the past the building was a factory that produced electrical transformers. My apologies, I only had my phone camera to take photos with that night!

Although we were aware the plates are designed to be shared, there was still a bit of a mix up at our table. Two of us ordered the smoked tofu and pickled ginger brochette with dried miso ($4.50 each), but when the dish came out we were under the impression the two skewers were for one person only. No smoked tofu for me unfortunately! Never mind, I still had the spelt and seed steamed bun with crispy organic tofu, pickled cucumber and gojuchang mayo ($7 each). The tofu was lovely and crisp and the mayo packed a nice little punch:

Transformer, Fitzroy

Someone ordered the roasted sweet potato, togarashi with coconut yoghurt and lime ($12) and I got to have a taste. I loved this and immediately began taking mental notes about recreating this at home:

Transformer, Fitzroy

Not shown is the vegan option of the freekeh, quinoa, kamut, Mt. Byron lentils, barberries and hemp seed ($14). This was my favourite of the night but by the time I got to try some it was almost finished and not exactly good photo material!

I’m not really one to order a chocolate dessert but the only option for me that night was a chocolate brownie with hazelnut cream– unfortunately I can’t remember the exact details of everything on the plate but I do remember it was rich and overall pretty great.  For a non-lover of rich chocolate desserts, I’d order this again:

Transformer, Fitzroy

Service was really good, we’d had a bit of a numbers issue with our group (more people had decided to join us after the initial booking was made) and the staff did their best to accommodate us and everything worked out well. This was on a Wednesday night though, I don’t think we would have had much of a chance on a Friday or Saturday.

I’m looking forward to visiting again and trying out all the available vegan options. Although the plates are designed to share, half our party decided that some of the smaller dishes don’t lend themselves as well to being shared and you may as well order one dish for yourself. I’d probably order some for myself yes, but other dishes like the roasted sweet potato (shown above) are fine to share. For a peek at more of the dishes and drinks available, read the review by Where’s The Beef?.

Transformer, Fitzroy

Transformer

97-99 Rose Street

Fitzroy

http://www.transformerfitzroy.com/  to book online

https://www.facebook.com/transformerfitzroy  for more information

 

19

Smith & Deli, Fitzroy

Smith & Deli Fitzroy

Whenever I blog about a new vegan place, I get quite a few comments from readers overseas saying how Melbourne seems to be so ace for vegans and plant based eaters. Well, Melbourne now has yet another fantastically super all-vegan food outlet I’m excited to share with you: Smith & Deli in Fitzroy.

Co-owners Mo and Shannon are the masterminds behind the all-vegan and much loved Smith & Daughters restaurant. Smith & Deli is, as the name suggests, more a deli style set up. There’s no seating but there are shelves, display cabinets and fridges full of goodies, many of which are made on the premises. There are housemade pizzas (I saw margherita and pepperoni), dips (garlic aioli, tzaziki, fava bean dip, red capsicum dip), pesto, quince paste. You can grab some canned hominy, uncooked beans, chickpeas and such as well as syrups like agave, maple and coconut syrup. There were beverages, Tofurky products and Miyoko cheeses in the fridges, with chips, confectionery and more on the shelves. The food display cabinets contain more housemade foods like pastrami, turkey, marinated artichokes and other foods suitable for an antipasto platter, pretzels, croissants(!) and the sweeter baked goods like almond croissants(!!!), pain au chocolat, sticky challah rolls, biscuits (cookies), slices, doughnuts and more.

And the sandwiches– oh my word the sandwiches. YOU GUYS, THE SANDWICHES. Just… sandwiches. There’s the Rocky (sliced Philly steak, grilled onions and peppers, melted mozarella all toasty, $14), the Maury Ballstein (meatballs in Napoli sauce with fresh basil pesto, rocket and buffalo mozarella on a toasted roll, $14), Club Sandwiches Not Seals (turkey, bacon, lettuce, tomato, mayo and cheddar on sourdough, $14), Buffalo the Vampire Slayer (buffalo tofu, ranch, shredded iceberg, carrot, red onion and celery in a roll, $12)… and so so much more. There’s even a Truffle Shuffle, which is a grilled cheese with ham and truffle oil for $12.

I’m going to stop talking now, because I’m likely to start talking all ludicrous-speed in a shrill voice. Because love can do that to you.

Lotsa-photos time, with my purchases at the bottom.

Smith & Deli FitzroySmith & Deli FitzroySmith & Deli FitzroySmith & Deli FitzroySmith & Deli Fitzroy

Smith & Deli FitzroySmith & Deli FitzroySmith & Deli FitzroySmith & Deli FitzroySmith & Deli FitzroySmith & Deli Fitzroy       Smith & Deli Fitzroy Smith & Deli Fitzroy Smith & Deli FitzroySmith & Deli Fitzroy Smith & Deli FitzroySmith & Deli FitzroySmith & Deli Fitzroy

I’d studied the menu for a few days, since Smith & Deli opened on Tuesday. I ended up getting the Home Alone. Best sandwich I’ve ever eaten everrr. Put it this way, I don’t really like Brussel sprouts but I had absolute faith in this sandwich because it contains turkey, roast brussel sprouts, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potato and gravy in really nice bread. The deli had run out of the turkey so I opted for the chicken instead. I LOVE THIS SANDWICH. It cost $15– pricey for a sandwich but I’m happy to pay that for something where the ingredients are fresh, housemade and did I mention an entire roast meal in a sandwich?! I had a ten minute walk to the car after buying this and stopped when I saw a little community garden setup. I had to hurry up and photograph the sandwich (half is shown below) because I wanted to stuff it in my face and there was no way I was going to wait another eight minutes or so before getting to the car. Half the sandwich was really filling and the other half will be toasted in my panini press. This was magic:

Smith & Deli Fitzroy

Update: another sandwich, this time the Rocky. Oh my word…

Smith & Deli Fitzroy

The kids asked for a plain croissant each. I had a little and while I was not expecting this to be anything like a non-vegan all butter croissant I’m sure this is as close to a ‘real’ croissant as you can get. I’m happy with that! Shannon has done some wicked awesome sorcery with these and if I ever crave croissants I know where I’ll be going. Oh and hey, check out what I did with bringing a gingham tablecloth as a prop. I got all matchy-matchy with the shirts the Smith & Deli staff wear (but I didn’t get pics of their shirts, doh):

Smith & Deli Fitzroy

On another visit, I got the ham, cheese, tomato and mustard Croissantwiches of Eastwick ($12). Think toasted croissant with all those fillings. Toasting made this seem more ‘real’ croissant like than the plain untoasted croissants. Brilliant. Action shot:

Smith & Deli Fitzroy

For a sweet treat, the kids asked for a jam drop biscuit each and a chocolate biscuit to share. I got a quince custard Danish for Husband. I had a taste and like the croissant, I know exactly where to go now if I am in desperate need of a Danish. Really well done:

Smith & Deli Fitzroy

Another sweet treat to share with family was the vanilla custard slice. It was pretty cold in Melbourne today and the icing stuck to the lid of the container and was really hard to take off, though I did manage it well after this photo was taken! Wobbly custardy goodness with pastry and sweet icing done well:

Smith & Deli Fitzroy

Finally we got a Challah sticky bun ($7) to share. Think cinnamon bun, but more butterscotchy-caramely than cinnamony. Sticky gooey loveliness:

Smith & Deli Fitzroy

I wish I had more time just to hang out and check every single thing on the shelves and in the fridges. Smith & Deli is already so popular, with many of the fresh food items selling out during the day. I love the New York Deli styling, the gingham shirts, the friendly service but most of all I love the thought and effort that has gone in to everything they make. There was a lot of excitement in the lead up to Smith & Deli opening and when you’re in there checking out what’s available and how beautiful the space is, it’s easy to see why.

Where’s the Beef? have blogged about their visit. You can also read reviews at Quinces and Kale and over at The Good Hearted.

Smith & Deli Fitzroy

Smith & Deli

11 Moor Street, Fitzroy

Smith & Deli on Facebook

Smith & Daughters on Facebook

Click to add a blog post for Smith and Deli on Zomato