Chapel Street Eats

These eats go back a while. The first was way back in April on ANZAC day – the bear and I met up with my mum and dad for lunch and a movie due to it being a public holiday. We met in between our places on Chapel St, and headed towards the Sweetwater Inn for a bite to eat. Unfortunately, they weren’t yet open when we got there, though that may be a good thing – this post may have had far too much deep-fried-ness otherwise. Yowzers!

I’ve never really spent a lot of time on the South Yarra end of Chapel st – it’s a bit more fashion-oriented than I can bear for very long. They do have a couple of cinemas though, and plenty of cafes and restaurants to drink cawfee and fill tummies.

We decided to stop at a Mexican place called Amigos, as it wasn’t too far from where we needed to be. Amigos has three location – South Yarra, St Kilda and the CBD, and according to the website they have been serving Mexican food and drink since 1981.

Upon viewing the menu, I noticed two items labelled vegan. Not a huge choice, but good to have the options labelled nevertheless.

amigosThe bear went for the Ensalada Verde – a green salad with avo, tomato, red onion, and a citrus and herb dressing, topped with tortilla strips. He enjoyed this, and even let me taste a little. Decent tasting though someone overpriced at $16.50 for some leaves and bread, in my humble opinion.

amigos2I had the Pico de Gallo – a blend of tomato, red onion, coriander, lime and chili with corn chips ($10.50). Nice and fresh tasting, and suits my love of snacking foods.

Afterwards, we went on the Jam Factory to see The Grand Budapest Hotel at the cinema. It was the first time I had been to the movies in quite some time, and I enjoyed watching a film in the dark on the big screen. Gotta love Wes Anderson, I enjoyed the unusual darkness of this film, as well as the usual quirky patterns of conversation. Since then, I’ve been to the cinemas two more times (Good Vibrations and All This Mayem) and am looking forward to more visits – hopefully I’ll catch a few films at the Melbourne International Film Festival starting tomorrow….look out!

Next up, a trip to Lord of the Fries. Why oh why do I continue to go here and not enjoy myself?

Perhaps that is a little harsh – it’s just that I have such high expectations! Vegans and omnivores alike, everybody tells me how great Lord of the Fries are..it makes me feel like I am missing something. Can somebody please explain to me why they are so good? Perhaps I make continually bad choices, I don’t know. Perhaps I need to visit at 3am after a night out – I bet I would enjoy it then.

lotf2The bear and I got a few bowls of fried stuff. Here is some chips and chili poppers with vegan cheese and hot napoli sauce. Yet another sauce that really didn’t do much for me, although it was better than the satay and the special vegan mayo that I’ve tried before. The sauce wasn’t spicy at all, and the chili poppers were pretty tasteless – just friedness, with bland cream cheese style filling.

lotf1Sorry for offending your eyes with this picture, I know it ain’t the prettiest. This is a bowl of chips and onion rings with vegan cheese and gravy. Admittedly, this was the best sauce of all the ones I’ve tried, despite its translucent gelatinous appearance. Not saying it was amazing, but definitely preferable to the others.

Maybe I need to try the sweet potato fries. Or the burgers or hot dogs. I had a burger once and it was okay, but nothing mind blowing. No doubt I will be back some time, as I feel the need to crack this mystery.

lotf3Oh my goodness – to think I almost let you get away without laying your eyes on this monstrosity! Okay, that was mean, I actually enjoyed this until I felt sick. The Chapel st store also does a few milkshakes, this one being Oreo flavoured. I know it looks a bit like sewerage, but it was not too bad – a bit sickly sweet, but hey, why else would you get a milkshake?


Amigos

7/478 Chapel St, South Yarra
Sun – Thurs – 11.30am – 12am
Fri – Sat – 11.30am – 1am

Lord of the Fries
170 Chapel St, Windsor
(see website for other locations)
Mon – Wed – 11am – 8pm
Thurs – 11am – 9pm
Fri – Sat – 11am – 5am
Sun – 11am – 9pm

Yong Green Food

At the start of June, my Granny came over from Perth to visit. On one of the first days she was here, she and my mum came to meet me in Fitzroy and we went to Yong Green for lunch.

I was happy to find they were open when we arrived, as I have been having some poor luck with them this year – every time I make an effort to try and go, they end up being closed for holidays! Thankfully, not this time.

Yong Green Food have a wonderful menu which is based around healthy, sustainable and seasonal food and conscious eating. Pretty much the entire menu is vegan, or vegan on request, and they also cater for other dietary requirements such as organic, gluten-free and garlic/onion-free.

If the food’s not enough to draw you in, their sustainability initiatives are also admirable – Yong Green have taken steps to reduce their greenhouse emissions by purchasing their own GreenPower and acquiring carbon credits through abatement projects. They also donate 10% of their profits to support farmer-managed natural regeneration in East Africa.

yonggreen2We had a lot of trouble choosing what to eat – we couldn’t decide between entrees or desserts. Ultimately, we went with mains to ensure we had room for coffee and cake afterwards.

I went with the famous dragon bowl – brown rice, topped with various veggies (I think there was carrot, cucumber, sprouts and more) and sliced soy beef. There is also the option to have it with tofu.

yonggreen1Excuse the crappy photos and shadows plz.

The dragon bowl comes with a miso soup and chili sauce – the warm miso an especially nice touch for a winter’s day. The meal was delicious, filling and nourishing.

I didn’t actually take photos of my mum or granny’s meals – mum went with the macro dragon bowl, so it was very similar to mine. Granny went with a Japanese curry, which was absolutely scrumptious.

Then the cake!

yonggreen3We got a piece of raw cake each, and split them three ways so we could each have a taste. This was the white chocolate raspberry cheesecake. Not too dense and with a generous amount of raspberries and sauce, this was lovely.

yonggreen4I’d never had a raw pecan pie before, and our first meeting was successful. I would definitely eat you again pie!

yonggreen5The tiramisu was my favourite, and unfortunately the smallest (and most expensive) of the three. This was also my first raw tiramisu, and the addition of spiced rum was most welcome.

The cakes were very nice, though I’ve probably had better elsewhere, and given the price ($9 – $10.50/slice) I would probably prefer to spend the money on entrees next time as the savoury food on offer is more interesting.

Yong Green Food
421-423 Brunswick St, Fitzroy
Mon – CLOSED
Tues – L – 12pm – 4pm, D – 5pm – 10pm
Wed – 5pm – 10pm
Thurs – Sat – L – 12pm – 4pm, D – 5pm – 10pm
Sun – L – 12pm – 4pm, D – 5pm – 9pm

Pizza and Gelato

This is the week. After experiencing some technical issues that led me to believe I’d lost a whole bunch of photos, and the subsequent joy of finding said photos, I’m doing it! I’m getting rid of the backlog!

And first on the list, a trip to Eat Pizza in the city.

I’m not sure just how long Eat Pizza have had inner city locations – there is one in North Melbourne and one in the CBD – but I do recall believing that they were only in Footscray and Maribyrnong. Now looking at their website, I’m not even sure the Maribyrnong one still exists.

Regardless of when they arrived, they are definitely there.

While Eat Pizza are not an exclusively vegan or even vegetarian pizza shop, they do offer vegan cheese, ham and salami at an extra cost. We headed in to the Flinders St location to check it out one evening on our way to a gig in the city.

eatpizzaWe went with a classic vegetarian with pineapple, vegan cheese and vegan salami (and a sprinkle of chili flakes). The first thing I noticed was how generous Eat Pizza are with their toppings! Every single slice had a large circle of vegan salami and there was plenty of cheese. The base was beautifully soft and doughy, and overall, the pizza was excellent.

A slight structural issue – as the salami took up almost the whole slice, and everything else was stacked on top of that, we had a few problems with topping sliding every which way. And personal choice – I would have chucked a bit more tomato on the base, and a bit more chili on top – but that’s just me.

I’m pretty psyched to have another vegan pizza option so close by, though it doesn’t seem like they do delivery which means you have to put in a bit of effort to get your pizza.

On another occasion, the bear and I went for a bit walk around the city, out to Carlton, Fitzroy, Collingwood and Richmond. It’s only natural that we would need an ice cream pitstop during this adventure.

Luckily, Casa Del Gelato was there to service our needs. Casa Del Gelato has been selling gelato from their Lygon st location since 1980 – holy moly! They have a huge range of vegan sorbets, but also a selection of six or so soya gelatos, which include creamy flavours like chocolate, hazelnut, pistachio and coffee.

casadelgelatoThe bear ended up going for some dairy flavours, while I matched the bacio and coffee flavours. What can I say? I love ice cream, and I especially love being able to choose flavours that aren’t usually on offer (read: something other than sorbet). Creamy and delicious. I don’t care if it’s winter, ice cream rules! Thank you Casa Del Gelato, I love you!

Eat Pizza
1c/557 Flinders St, Melbourne
(See website for Nth Melbourne, Footscray and Glenroy locations)
Mon – Thurs – 10.30am – 10.30pm
Fri – 10.30am – 11.30pm
Sat – 12pm – 11.30pm
Sun – 12pm – 10.30pm

Casa Del Gelato
163 Lygon St, Carlton
Open 7 days, 12pm – 12am

La Panella Bakery

I’m pretty sure every vegan in Melbourne knows about the wonderful La Panella Bakery.

Located in Preston, this completely vegetarian bakery offers a wide range of vegan treats, from savoury pies to sweet scrolls. You can buy hot pies – ready to eat, or cold ones from the fridge to take home and freeze/cook later. Whenever I go, I stock up with a few spares.

The prices are super decent – sausage rolls and pies go for around the $2-3 mark, and sweet treats vary according to the item. You can quite easily walk out of there with a bag full of goodies for under $20.

It isn’t gourmet quality, but it satisfies that craving for a good old pie and sauce when you need one. Oh and did I mention it is dirt cheap?!

This bounty is from a trip I took a couple of months ago, and continued to eat for the following weeks.

lapanella1 First up, a coffee scroll. A doughy piece of goodness, with a sticky sweet coffee flavoured icing.

lapanella3I can’t remember if this was the classic or the mushroom pie.

lapanella4They kind of look and taste the same to me – both are filled with a chewy TVP-based mince with a rich gravy-like sauce. Classic!

lapanella2The pastie! I was never the biggest fan of pasties, probably because it was always the only veggie option in lieu of pies and sausage rolls. This pastie was generous in size and packed with various vegetables, including what seemed like shredded potato. It had a kind of strange side flavour – hard to explain, but once I tasted it I couldn’t not.

lapanella5This is whatever the first pie wasn’t. I’m guessing classic, because it just has one little symbol on top.

lapanella6Mmm…pie.

lapanella11Sausage roll. Who knows what goes inside a sausage roll? Not me. This was a good replica of that sausage roll you’d get at the school canteen with one of those squeezy packs of tomato sauce that would always spit at you when you cracked it open.

lapanella7As you can probably guess, this is the curry pie. A different kind of gravy, with a few extra veggies thrown in. A nice alternative, but I prefer the plain.

lapanella8What’s this – a hot jam donut? You betchya!

lapanella9Almond and walnut hedgehogs. I wouldn’t recommend these – you can’t really taste much chocolate, so it kind of feels like eating a block of wax. Sorry La Panella, I still love you though!

lapanella10And finally, lemon and jam tarts. I liked the lemon – it had a bit of tang to it, however the jam was sickly sweet. From memory, they always are though.

So there you have it, my last La Panella haul. You all know where it is…get on board and enjoy some cheap, classic baked goods.

La Panella Bakery
465 High St, Preston
Mon – Fri – 6am – 6pm
Sat – 6am – 5pm
Sun 6am – 4pm

Banquet at Gong De Lin

A while back, Veganopoulous posted about a banquet lunch at Gong De Lin which she had bought through an online deal on Scoopon. After noting the array of food, I promptly went online and bought one for myself too. Nothing like a vegan bargain!

The voucher sat in my inbox for months, until this weekend when I finally realised I only had a matter of days left to use it. So the bear and I took ourselves out to dinner last night so as not to let it go to waste.

Prior to Veganopoulous posting about Gong De Lin, I had never heard of the place. They’ve only been around for a year or so, and they are somewhat easy to miss – on the third floor of a building on Swanston Street, up near QV. I had a quick look on Urbanspoon before we went and noted quite a few reviews detailing rude, angry staff and food being reheated in the microwave. This perhaps set my expectations a little lower than usual, however we were pleasantly surprised. The friendly waitress seated us in a booth by the window and brought us some corn soup very promptly. I love getting to sit by the window, especially at such a height where you can look out onto the streets below.

ImageExcuse the crappy camera photos please.

The corn soup was pretty standard, similar to one we had in Box Hill last week – I kind of like it, while finding the texture very odd at the same time. It was certainly nice to sip on something warm after coming in from the cold.

The waitress was very attentive, and offered us a choice of jasmine tea or soft drink (as they were out of plum juice), as well as a choice between spicy chicken or mushrooms for our main. I was so stoked about being given the choice, and ordered the chicken without skipping a beat. She also brought some dipping sauces for our dumplings much to the bear’s delight – just try and keep his paws away from a jar of chilli oil!

ImageNext up – spring rolls. As Veganopoulous said, spring rolls are spring rolls! They were enjoyable and not too oily, accompanied by a chilli dipping sauce. The bear was too busy smothering his in a concoction he had made in his own bowl to notice this sauce until the end.

ImageThe dumplings came out at about the same time as the spring rolls. The skin looked quite thick and I feared it might be cardboard-y, but they were softer than I had expected. I always like it when dumplings, buns or spring rolls are filled with mixtures that have identifiable bits in them. These had little chunks of tofu among lots of greens. I enjoyed them.

ImageNext up a bean sprout salad. This was a little soggy, but I liked the juiciness to break up the entrees – it was quite a palate cleanser!

ImageThis was bear’s dish of the night – sweet and sour pork. I am constantly amazed by the different textures that mock-meat takes on these days – it really is fascinating. Just last week we had some vegan prawns at Vegie Hut (which I hated – too prawny would you believe?!) The sauce was really thick and the flavour spot on. We were given a bowl of rice each to accompany the mains.

ImageThe other main was the spicy chicken. The sauce itself was not overly spicy, but there were chillis scattered throughout the dish which certainly packed a punch. This dish also had water chestnuts (which I haven’t had in SO long!) and peanuts. I liked the stringy texture of the mock chicken.

ImageFinally, dessert. I’m not going to lie – I didn’t enjoy this. Little flavourless balls of dough in some sugar water. Neither of us finished it. By that point we were pretty full anyway, so it was no big loss.

So Gong De Lin is now on the radar – I’ll remember it if I’m looking for a sure-fire vegan Chinese option in the CBD. It was a good deal – $39 for the two of us for all that food, however I did not get a chance to browse the menu to see what the standard prices are. Maybe we’ll just have to come back and find out!

Gong De Lin
Level 3, 264 Swanston St Melbourne
Open 7 Days – 10am – 10pm

Eating right at Vegie Bar

This post goes back to a meal I had a couple of months ago now – where did the time go? Looking at the pictures I can remember exactly when these were from – the sun was shining and it was a couple of days before I started my new job (so we’re going back to mid-March here). The bear and I were wandering around Fitzroy picking up a few last things, and putting an order in for some reward-for-new-job boots at Vegan Wares.

At the time, I was in the middle of a detox and all the walking around was getting my tummy rumbling. I can start feeling hungry and hold onto that feeling for a while, but once I cross over my hunger threshold, I turn to grumpy VERY quickly. Luckily for us, we were just down from Vegie Bar and I knew I would be able to find something detox-suitable, while the bear could choose from a range of more substantial options.

ImageI ordered the colourful raw Living Stack, which consisted of layers of zucchini, carrot and tomato on top of a marinated mushroom, with a tomato beetroot puree. It had a fancy dehydrated slice of tomato on top, as well as some pretty micro-greens. I’m sure there were other things involved in the stack, but I can’t remember this far on. It was served with a great big green salad on the side, which was topped with some long cheesy kale chips. This was just what I needed – lots of vibrant and fresh ingredients. I loved the bold flavour of the puree in the stack, but I have to admit the marinated mushroom was a bit too much for me – I had to pass some of it on to the bear. I’m still working on pushing the boundaries of my mushroom eating. I have another threshold – the raw mushroom threshold, which I definitely crossed on this day. It’s one of those things that I need to keep working on.

ImageThe bear enjoyed a satay tofu wrap, which despite its anemic appearance in comparison to my colourful meal, packed a lot of flavour and he seemed satisfied. I even took a sneaky bite, just to make sure everything was in order. Confirmation acquired.

Image

Bear also ordered a purifier juice – apple, carrot, celery and ginger, a combination that you can never really go wrong with. Despite declaring that I did not want a drink when we ordered, I thoroughly enjoyed drinking most of this one. Oops.

Another enjoyable meal at Vegie Bar, consistent with the last two visits I’ve made since being back in Melbourne. You can find the details of those trips here and here.


Vegie Bar

380 Brunswick St, Fitzroy
Mon-Thurs – 11am – 10pm
Fri – 11am – 10.30pm
Sat – 9am – 10.30pm
Sun – 9am – 10pm

Loving Hut Northcote

The other week, the bear and I decided to go out to Northcote to see a comedy show as a part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival that took over town for a few weeks. I haven’t really spent much time in Northcote – mostly because it used to be kind of far and out of the way for me, but living and working closer to the city now means it’s quite within reach. This is exciting news, given the experience we had at Loving Hut.

Loving Hut is an international chain of vegan restaurants, which focus on the provision of affordable, cruelty-free food. The Northcote restaurant has only been open for a few months, while there has been one in Richmond for some time now (incidentally it is RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER from my new place!). While I am yet to visit the Richmond one (I know, right?!), we popped by the one in Perth when we were in Western Australia, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

We decided to order a few dishes to share in order to make the most of the experience. First up, spring rolls.

ImageBilly really enjoyed these. I thought they were nice, but nothing out of the ordinary. A good, crispy spring roll.

ImageNext up we got some of the southern fried chicken. I had to try this after seeing it on Cindy and Michael’s blog, as well as over at Veganopoulous. It did not disappoint. The texture was amazing – a thick, crunchy batter with chewy, stringy insides…I honestly don’t know how they do it, it’s one of veganism’s mysteries. Served with a creamy spiced mayo, I enjoyed every bite.

ImageWe decided to get the rainbow salad to ensure we got some fresh veggies and not just a huge meal of mock meats. This was a good move. While the constituents of the salad were not particularly impressive, they provided a fresh, juicy break from the fried-ness of our other dishes. The two dressings were great, I particularly enjoyed the herb-y punch of the green one.

ImageWhile we were eating, I saw a specials board which had earlier gone unnoticed. On it was an entree item of fried silken tofu bites, which I knew immediately that I had to try. After ordering a serve, we were so glad that we did. These were hands down the most delicious things of the night. Perfect little golden crispy medallions that melted in your mouth when you bit into them. They were seasoned with herbs identical to those used on Grill’d chips, and served with a vegan tartare that was mind-blowingly spot on. I have no idea how they got it so creamy – another vegan miracle. The bear and I could not stop talking about these for days (possibly weeks?). Even the folks at the table next to us asked one of the staff members what was on our table and ordered themselves some. I am trying to come up with excuses to go back there, just so I can eat these little gems again.

All that only cost us around the $30 mark between us.

Completely satisfied, we wandered down to the social club to catch the comedy show, only to discover it had been cancelled. Not to worry, the night was still marked down as a success thanks to the delights of dinner.

With lovely staff, quick service and delicious meals, Loving Hut Northcote is definitely a winner.

Loving Hut
377-79 High St, Northcote
Mon – CLOSED
Tues-Sun – 5.30pm – 10pm
kitchen closes 30 mins prior to closing