Archives for posts with tag: Fitzroy vegan

When a regular cafe touts they are ‘vegan friendly’ — what are you hoping for? I know for a lot of people they are expecting one or more vegan dishes on the menu. I actually don’t mind if there are no vegan dishes on the menu. If there is nothing vegan-ready on the menu, the kitchen is usually happy to take something off a dish and I’m cool with that. But i’ve decided the term ‘vegan friendly’ should mean that if there are no vegan dishes on the menu and you have to take several items off my plate to veganize it, that you will be happy to give me a couple of veg-friendly items in their place without charging me through the nose for it. I’m getting a little tired of ‘vegan friendly’ cafes explaining that almost everything on their menu can be veganized and that if I just take off the organic sheep’s fetta, free-range bacon and fresh pesto and add some mushrooms and tomato, that will be lovely. Then I get charged for the mushrooms and tomatoes on top of the original price of the dish (which was that price in the first place to cover the expensive animal ingredients) and end up with a $20 breakfast which is basically just a couple of veggies on toast. To me, that’s not vegan friendly.

The same old thing happened at Fitzroy’s Industry Beans on the weekend. With that gripe out of the way I have to say I really dug this little bean-obsessed cafe. Coffee beans that is. The team here are caffeine wizards, coffee alchemists, bean fiends! And I had one of the nicest cups of coffee I have ever had in Melbourne (and that is high praise indeed, perhaps the highest). The atmosphere was fab, they have a great little outdoor area that is covered in and canine friendly, and the wait staff were warm and helpful. Plus its proximity to the Rose Street Market makes it part one of the perfect little Christmas shopping combo.

The coffee menu is a delight, guiding you through an awesome array of single origin, single estate and blended coffees. And when I asked which drop would be the most soy milk friendly, the waiter went out of his way to check it out for me. The result was a perfect little brew that needed no sugar, such was its heart-starting perfection (I usually take one sugar in my coffee).

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Everything on the menu includes meat or dairy. There seemed to be a couple of sweet dishes that just required the yoghurt and honey taken off or the milk switched. But I was desperate for something savoury, such is my vegan brunching curse. Sweet breakfasts are easier to come by but I just never find eating oats or fruit salad when I’m out weekend brunching that appealing. Especially if I’ve had a bottle of wine in my hand the night before. A lovely waiter explained I could take the cheese off the avocado smash and replace it with some veggie matter from the menu. I was happy with that. But of course I was charged for the dish that had the expensive goats chevre taken off it and then charged extra for the tomatoes I had in its place. So, despite the dish being nice enough (although avocado on toast never makes one’s knees quiver does it?), I paid $17.50 for avocado on toast with 8 cherry tomatoes that had been chucked in the oven for a bit.

Okay now my whinge is over. Promise.
Everyone else’s dishes, including Captain Someone’s french toast with cold drip coffee beads, looked ah-may-zing. So I am keen to return here for lunch some time and see if that menu has a little more to offer us cruelty-free kids. And to have another coffee. Oh my quickening heart, that coffee.

Vegan options: Nothing vegan-ready on the menu but staff very friendly and ready to suggest modifications
Coffee: There is a hard cover coffee guide. Ya hear me? Enough said.
Soy: Bonsoy
Moola: I did not think $17.50 for avo on toast was a fair price
Ear candy: When I tuned in I heard Tame Impala and Sharon Jones. Thumbs up.

Am I being a big fat whingey pants? What do you think ‘vegan friendly’ should mean?

Mornin’ merry blogglemen and blogettes! Excuse my little absence, I’ve been all wrapped up (ahem) in the silly season. Twas the month before Christmas, when all through the house …tempeh tantrum was running around like a madwoman trying to get things done. It’s my favourite and busiest time of the year so do excuse me if I don’t manage a weekly post over the next lil’ while.

I haven’t been too busy, however, to fulfil my promise to you, dear readers, to check out the best vegan-friendly fare this fine city has to offer. So a couple of weekends ago I dragged myself out of bed and headed down to the Vegie Bar to do some ‘research’  for you. Do you see how I care?

I have been meaning to get down to Fitzroy early enough to check out Vegie Bar’s breakie menu for a while. For some reason Captain Someone and I struggle to get our act together in time (I had been informed over the phone 11.15 was the cut off for breakie orders) most Sundays. But this time we made it and boy am I glad we did! Because I think I discovered one of Melbourne’s top tofu scrambles! It had me grinnin’ indeed after a disappointing and overpriced t-scram (what?) at Ici a couple of weeks earlier. But I’ll blog about that another time.

I did forget my camera though — um, and I lost my notes afterwards — so do forgive the dodgy iPhone pics and iffy information. It is Christmas after all.

This dish was cheap, hearty, tasty as hell and I enjoyed every juicy (yes, juicy) mouthful. Highlights were the miso and tamari in the sauce, the juicy strips of capsicum and the little squares of roti sprinkled on the top (perfect for someone trying to limit gluten intake).

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Captain Someone ordered the Vegan French Toast. It didn’t blow my hair back but it’s a pretty yummy sweet-tooth option. Not sure how they do the ‘egg wash’ but there’s certainly a delicious coating on the bread.

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Vegan options: Just these two. For a vegie place they could do with adding a couple more.
Coffee: We didn’t enjoy our coffee actually. It was perfectly made. So it was the beans rather than the barista. Just not our cup of t…erm…coffee.
Soy: Pure Harvest, I think (where did those notes go?)
Moola: The Vegie Bar’s breakie prices are just as super fair as the rest of the menu. I think it was about $13-14 for the tofu and $8-10 for the french toast.
Ear candy: Damn notes.

Have you found a favourite t-scram dispensary in Melbourne?

Beans! Often vegan brunching in this fair city can feel like one long parade of the ‘musical fruit.’ I never thought I would get sick of ’em. I did. Whoa! No need for the dramatic worldwide (really, I flatter myself) collective intake of breath vegan comrades! I’m not about to give beans the it’s-not-you-it’s-me speech. I just wish Melbourne chefs would consider concocting something a little more exciting for the cruelty-free brunch hunters among us.

That bean said, I have had some of these little legumes served up to me in some of the most deliciously rich sauces — smokey, sweet, spicy, salty, slide down your throat and warm your very soul. I have been lucky enough to stick my fork into some of the best beans in the city, so, now I reckon I’m a wee bit fussy.

That may be why the beans at Fitzroy’s all-day breakfast institution, Marios’ Cafe, didn’t knock my socks off. There are no vegan-ready dishes on Marios’ (named after two Marios, nope, not a Luigi in sight) menu but they are happy for you to build your own breakfast — hold the dairy! I ordered baked beans on toast with a side of grilled tomato. The beans were in a rich and tasty tomato sauce, the bread was generously thick and the tomatoes were sweet. It may not have given me a When Harry Met Sally moment (if you want that kind of beans experience go to Ray or A Minor Place) but it was a nice meal.

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Despite the lack of vegan-friendly creativity it’s worth a trip to Marios’. It is, after all, a Fitzroy institution and where else do you get to sip delicious coffee, served up by waiters in waistcoats with a front row seat to the theatre show that is Brunswick Street.

Vegan options: You can build your own breakfast. The ingredients will be simple but well prepared.
Coffee: The two Marios are very serious about their coffee. They have their own blend, roasted in Fitzroy and it’s top notch.
Soy: Bonsoy (I think)
Moola: $15.80 for breakfast and a coffee
Ear candy: A little bit o’ gypsy. Why not?

Do you have a favourite vegan-friendly Fitzroy cafe?

Some of the best things in life come in a bowl: delicious, warming soup; hot and spicy noodles; creamy curries and lovely, velvety soy lattes (ok, soy lattes don’t come in bowls, but I believe with all my heart they should).

Today I had lunch with some sassy vegan bloggers — Hannah from Let Food Be Thy Medicineher skilled vegan-baking sister, Sarah and Vegie Head‘s Adele — and experienced a Munsterhaus bowl for the first time. My taste buds are still thanking me for the rainbow of fresh, healthy and delicious vegetable dishes and salads that were (for a very short time) piled high in my bowl.

Fitzroy’s Munsterhaus is an all-vegetarian, vegan-friendly, Deco-inspired café on St Georges Road.  The concept is simple: you choose a bowl size, whichever combination of vegie delights you’d like crammed in that bowl (and they ain’t skimpy), and whichever delicious dip you’d like to crown the whole lot with.

A small bowl is definitely enough for a meal, a medium bowl is for the hungry and the large bowls are for lumberjacks and girls that are going through a breakup.

I said, “I’ll have some of everything that’s vegan please.” Except it sounded more like, “I’ll have some of everything thas veg pleh,” because I had already started drooling down my top.

I won’t try to break down the different elements of my lunch (there were about ten) but I will tell you magic happened in that bowl of mine. Standouts were the quinoa salad, the tangy glass noodles and the creamy tofu dip. For a big ol’ bowl of seasonal and flavoursome food you can’t beat Munsterhaus — with good value and friendly service to boot.

Vegan options: Plenty! I think all but four of the buffet-style dishes were vegan
Moola: 
$10 for a small bowl, $14 for a medium and $18 for a large
Ear candy: 
The conversation was so stimulating I didn’t notice the tunes this time.

What’s your favourite way to fill a bowl?

I’ve been meaning to try kombucha for a long time. Kombucha is a fermented tea. The production involves making a sweet tea, adding a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast), and letting the SCOBY consume the sugar to produce a drink full of B vitamins, amino acids, enzymes and probiotics. Basically, if you want to become besties with your gut, drink this stuff.

I’ve heard about its abundant health benefits and have looked at a couple of online recipes but brewing my own seemed like too much trouble. Yesterday I found some bottled kombucha in my local health food store and grabbed a few bottles to take home and try.

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The verdict?*
Mojo Kombucha is made by South Australian company Organic & Raw. I like it because it’s organic, raw and vegan — and it tastes great! Yesterday I tried the Organic Original flavour. It reminded me a little of beer, it tasted a little like apple cider vinegar and it was wonderfully bubbly and crisp tasting. The addition of ginger in the Ginger Tonic flavour was even better! They also have a Lemon Citrus flavour I’m yet to try.

This health elixir has been around for thousands of years and the list of benefits to your body, especially your digestion, is pretty long. Websites that sell kombucha cultures and kits report its ability to: alkalize the body, detoxify the liver, increase metabolism, improve digestion, rebuild connective tissue, reduce headaches, alleviate constipation, boost energy, and more.

If you’ve been wondering about kombucha but, like me, have been too lazy to try making your own — try Mojo. I have to say I feel pretty good knowing there are literally millions of living bacteria having a ball in my belly as I type this. Go to town little guys.

Where it at? I found these bottles at Organic Wholefoods on Smith Street in Fitzroy.
What’s the damage? I can’t find the receipt, sorry. But I think they were around $3.50 a bottle.

*any vegan product reviews found on this blog are my own opinion and have not been paid for or encouraged by the company. I simply get excited when I find awesome vegan products and want to share them with you lot.

As I mentioned in my last post, I recently turned the big three-oh. And to celebrate I threw a 1950s inspired birthday bash. It was a brilliant night. It’s pure magic to have a room full of all your favourite people, dancing and drinking and feasting together. And what made it even better for me was that it was an all-vegan event. I had it upstairs at Gertrude’s Brown Couch in Fitzroy. And the crew there were fantastic about helping me to make it a cruelty-free celebration. They got the chef to come up with an all-vegan menu and they even stocked the bar upstairs with vegan-friendly beers and spirits. Despite them being a typically omnivore bar, they were really accommodating and I recommend getting in touch with them if you’re vegan and looking for a place to throw a shindig. Here’s their site.

Unfortunately, there are no great food-related photos from the event. Because I did what any self-respecting girl who had just worked her butt off keeping to a strict 21-day detox would do — I promptly got drunk. Ahem. And then forgot all about documenting the vegan elements of the party.

But I can tell you it looked delectable and tasted even better.

There’s something a little strange about using the term ‘finger food’ for a vegan event — but here is the finger food menu:

  • Panko fried mushrooms with a bush tomato relish
  • Felafel with a smoked eggplant dip
  • Gourmet vegetable skewers
  • Tempura vegetables with an ‘asian dipping sauce’
  • Potato and beetroot croquettes
  • Seasoned potato wedges with a sweet chili dipping sauce

To add to this spread my beautiful friend Jes made delicious tomato and eggplant, beetroot and hommus dips. And  the darling Jones sisters who really know how to cook delicious vegan fare (Hannah Jones is the brains behind Let Food Be Thy Medicine, a vegan blog and online store. Have you seen it yet? What!? Are you crazy? Quick, go there now and I promise I won’t tell anyone you were so out of touch. Click here for the store. And here for the blog) brought a plate of amazing dolmades.

And then she cried, “let them eat cake!” And the food fun escalated to a whole new sugar coma-inducing level. Because, for goodness cake, there’s no point messing around when you’re dealing with the business end of a vegan event. I’m talking about dessert. That’s why I went straight for the cream (cheese) of the crop in vegan cakery (I know that’s not a real world) — Mr Nice Guy Cupcakes. Melbourne-based Mister Nice Guy cupcakes are all vegan, all delicious and available in vegan friendly cafes, bars and cinemas (Westgarth) around town. Or you can go in and see them at their pop-up bakery at Prahran market. Here’s their website. To me, they are the best in cruelty-free cupcakes. And their vegan cream cheese frostings are to die for. They showered sugary goodness on my 30th with their:

  • Rockin’ Roller — strawberry frosting on a chocolate cake, topped with chocolate ganache and a choc chip
  • Peanut Butter Cup — peanut butter frosting on a chocolate cake, covered in chocolate ganache
  • Beetlejuice — cookies ‘n’ cream frosting with smunched (their word) up cookies in a vanilla cake topped with chocolate ganache
  • Key West — key lime frosting on a coconut cupcake topped with toasted coconut

Thankfully, there were a couple of left-over cupcakes, delivering a smile to my post-party-blues-blushed face and the only image for this post. Here’s a Rockin’ Roller in its final moments of existence.

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It was a vegan affair to remember. I’m still riding high on all the love poured on me that weekend *happy little sigh*

I didn’t much fancy writing two café reviews back-to-back but my internet access is minimal at the moment so I should take any chance I get to drop in on the blogosphere. Also, it’s a bit of a novelty for me to be eating out again anyway.

You see, I’ve spent most of this year living out the struggling artist cliché. You know, surviving solely on things you can find at the supermarket under $1, dancing dangerously close to a clash with the ol’ scurvy. Thank god things like cask wine and two-litre bottles of cider aren’t vegan or, I’m ashamed to admit, they may have found a home in my shaky hands. A sin that is only acceptable if you’re a uni student or homeless.

But I have a few more pennies in me pocket these days. So here’s another breaky review for ye. And I promise a couple of recipes are on their way soon.

Today I hit up the always bustling Babka Bakery Café on Brunswick Street in Fitzroy. Even on a school day, Captain Someone and I were lucky enough to grab the last tiny table in the somewhat cramped little café. On a weekend I have noticed the queue for this place spill out onto the street.

There is only one breakfast option for vegans at Babka. You can order their beans on toast without the fetta. And that I did. This plate of beans was not messin’ around. They were kidney beans in a lovely rich, spice-filled sauce. They came with Babka’s delicious, thick house-baked bread and I asked for a serve of grilled tomato in place of the fetta. I was surprised they suggested I pay for that as an extra side at first, but a wee bit of lash batting and a smile got them to see that popping it on the plate in place of the goat’s puss, ahem, I mean goat’s fetta, was only fair.

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Vegan options: Only one option, their house beans on toast without the fetta. Make sure you ask them to replace the fetta with avo or tomato but make it clear you don’t want to pay extra for them as a side.
Coffee: Romeo
Soy: Vitasoy
Moola: Not so bad at $17.20 for breakfast and coffee
Ear candy: A little bit of swing. And I dug it, see?

Do you know any great places to grab a vegan breakfast/brunch in Fitzroy?