1/7-9 Florence St, Brunswick
regular menu, specials
I headed west on Sunday for brunch to meet some friends that had recently moved to Melbourne. We settled on Dad and Dave’s, a cute café amongst cute cafés in Yarraville. I’m always amused by the trendiness of Yarraville. Having grown up in the west, nobody would have been caught dead there when I was a kid. But it is lovely, with beautiful houses and a nice village feel. It always was, but it suffered from being in the not very desirable western suburbs. Things have changed.
While not a vegan café, Dad and Dave’s has had some good reports on vegan social media.
The café itself is cosy with a cute homey feel. The display cases are full of good looking cakes and other treats, some of them vegan.
There are four vegan or veganisable options on menu for breakfast. We ate two of them, the corn fritters with avocado and a beetroot chutney and the berry pancakes with maple syrup. Both were very good.
The service was friendly, the serves generous and the coffee great.
Dad and Dave’s
27-29 Birmingham Street,
03 9314 3038
Pizza by the slice is a common occurrence in the USA and Italy, but I haven’t seen it in more than a couple of places in Melbourne.
Lievita in Northcote offers pizza by the slice but takes it a step further than the USA by allowing you to choose how big or small you’d like the piece to be. They use scissors to cut off the size you want and you pay by weight. It costs $35 per kilo, which translates to a very reasonable $10 for a piece roughly the size of a small pizza.
The joy is that you get to try small pieces, rather than just one whole pizza. For a single food committment phobe like me it is the equivalent of pizza degustation. There is no problem choosing which pizza to buy, you can have it all. It also has the advantage you can buy as much as you need, rather than a set size.
I chose the Marinara – Roman style with tomato, garlic, chilli and parsley and also a slice with cooked onions, olives and oregano on a tomato base. Both were excellent.
On a subsequent visit I sampled the zucchini pizza which is just topped with grated zucchini and garlic. It was also delicious. Unfortunately I didn’t photograph it.
My son alerted me to the existence of Lievita and he tells me that he asked them what was the smallest slice they have cut, and they told him it was 2cm wide. So there is plenty of scope for trying several.
You can have it heated up there, you can sit down at a few tables, but I think it is perfect for on the run, or to take home.
There are five vegan pizzas on the menu. They don’t have all the pizzas made at any given time, but when I went they had five made, two of which were vegan. It is probably a good idea to check if the pizzas they have made at any given time are the vegan ones.
I took mine cold and heated it up in the oven myself. It is crispy and delicious, and while it is not quite as good as a freshly cooked pizza, it is still very, very good.
This is probably going to become a regular stop on my way home on a Friday night.
298 High St,
Sometimes an amazing recipe is created by taking an unintended path.
My desire to replicate a vegan version of feta cheese (I really, really miss Greek salads!) ended in me making what my family declared to be the best ricotta and spinach rolls they had ever eaten. It’s a bold statement I know, but they were pretty darn good!
My journey started with this recipe for vegan almond feta from One Green Planet. A great, simple recipe, but the cheese turned out much more like baked ricotta than feta. I don’t think I used enough salt and the texture was much softer than I wanted it to be.
I ate a bit of the cheese on some crackers which was nice, but there was no way that I could get through the whole round that way. After a couple of days of it sitting in the fridge I was determined to come up with a way to use it all up. The recipe I came up with was easy and really delicious.
I broke the almond ricotta into a bowl and mixed through 500g of chopped spinach (defrosted and drained) and approximately 3 generous tablespoons of Fifya’s amazing vegan basil, spinach and cashew pesto with salt and pepper and little lemon juice to taste. Note: This is a really wonderful vegan pesto that’s great in sandwiches, on pasta, with baked potatoes, etc – I highly recommend it.
I used ready made vegan puff pastry and generous dollops of the mixture to create rolls and triangles of varying sizes. A little soy milk brushed on the top of each roll helped them bake to a nice golden glow in about 20 minutes in a medium oven.
A single round of cheese and a box of frozen spinach made 8 small rolls, 2 triangles and a large family size roll. Plenty to last the week for school lunches and snacks. I never intended to make vegan ricotta cheese but it turned out to be a happy mistake after all.
I went to a birthday party recently and the vegan finger food was just wonderful. Most of it was made by a friend of the hosts and a couple of dishes in particular were standouts. These cauliflower bites were probably my favourite and I came home on a mission to recreate them.
There are a large number of recipes for buffalo cauliflower around on the internet. I settled on this one with some variations, substituting fresh garlic instead of powdered and using some smoked paprika. I also used lime juice instead of the vinegar in the ranch dressing.
I spiced them up by using Sriracha instead of Frank’s Hot Sauce in the marinade. Sriracha is five times as hot as Frank’s, 2200 vs 450 Scoville units (the measure of chilli heat). I like chilli so it was fine for me.
They are delicious and completely moreish.
Cold wintry nights call for deliciously spicy comfort food. Bring on the red lentil dahl!
I make a few types of dahl with different lentil varieties and added vegetables. Each one has it’s own unique flavour combination. I also find that the depth and heat of the spice can vary significantly depending on the blends I have to hand. Garam masala is one of my favourite Indian ingredients but the spices included in the blend vary and brands can taste very different from one another. It’s always a good idea to check the heat and flavour as the lentils are cooking, giving you the chance to add a bit more spice, lemon or coconut if it’s not quite to your liking.
Social media has gone nuts with the arrival of nine varieties of Gardein mock meats in Australia.
I bought seven of those varieties to taste. Fishless fillets, chicken scallopini, 7 grain crispy chicken tenders, Szechuan beef strips, mandarin orange crispy chicken, chicken sliders and teriyaki chicken strips. All the Gardein products are vegan. A couple are gluten free as well.
I know that lots of vegans and vegetarians don’t like even the idea of faux meats, particularly people who have never eaten meat. But for those of us who grew up with it, are vegans for ethical reasons and miss the texture and flavour, products like Gardein are a treat. They are also great for people making a transition to being vegan or meat eaters who think they can’t give up meat.
So far, I’ve tried the crispy tenders that make a great chicken parma sandwich, and also the fishless fillets that bear an uncanny resemblance to fish in both taste and texture. Last night I tried the sliders. The burgers in those are great but the buns are too soft and sweet for my liking so I took the burgers out and ate them on sourdough bread. Call me a yuppie, but I like my junk food stylish.
I’ve yet to try the others but I have to say, on the evidence so far, this is very convincing mock meat, both in texture and taste.
I’ve already bought some more of the fishless fillets. They are great for an easy fish and chip night with some tartare sauce. Hand me a pickled onion.
Gardein is available quite widely, I’ve bought them from Prahran Convenience and Smith & Deli. They are also available at Manna Fresh in Essendon and a number of IGA supermarkets. It is nice to see vegan food going mainstream.
June was a busy month for mainstream restaurants offering vegan nights.
These are restaurants that always offer good vegan options on other nights, but the special nights were all vegan offerings.
The first was at B’stilla, which I went to, the second was at Woodland House, which I didn’t get to, and the third was another all vegan night at Dandelion in Elwood to celebrate Buddha’s birthday. Dandelion has won hats in the Age Good Food Guide for the last four years.
We ate 5 delicious courses of Vietnamese and Thai influenced food and also received a water blessing by a monk. The meal was great value at $65.
First up was a sweet potato, carrot and coconut soup with crispy toasted yam and taro garnished with purple basil. This was lightly spiced and utterly smooth and delicious.
Next was a beautiful pandan pancake filled with pine and enoki mushrooms with a peanut sauce and crispy fried betel leaves. Also delicious.
The next dish was probably the only disappointing dish of the night for me. It was a small salad of barley, pink quinoa, avocado mousse and fried chilli dressed with a mulberry vinaigrette, but it lacked flavour and it was shown up by the first two dishes completely.
The next course was a deeply complex vegetable green curry with choko, kohlrabi, cauliflower, pumpkin and some other vegetables which I don’t recall. It was beautifully garnished with crispy lotus roots. It was accompanied by brown rice, some stir-fried tofu and snow peas in a mild yellow bean sauce, and a relish of pink grapefruit and herbs. The green snappy snow peas made a great textural contrast to the softer vegetables in the curry.
Two dessert dishes followed, a dark bittersweet chocolate mousse with a mangosteen sorbet, chunks of crunchy honeycomb and a pomegranate tuille. The mousse had a brulee top that gave a satisfying crunch. The mousse defeated me, it was so delicious, but so rich I had to give up up about half way.
Lastly a coconut, cashew butter and cumquat crispy slice/biscuit made a great finish with the coffee.
I loved my meal at Dandelion, the flavours ranged from delicate to bold, the food looked beautiful and I would be happy to return any time.
133 Ormond rd, Elwood
03 9531 4900
I’ve tried a few versions of tofu scramble at cafes and have never really liked any of them – too bland, too watery, etc. Today I made this recipe and it was absolutely delicious! Now I’ve got the flavouring right I reckon the vegies could be substituted for whatever is to hand or a favourite combination. This is a great alternative to scrambled eggs and would work well for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
This dish has made me very happy today :)
Recipe serves approx. two.
For the sauce:
As veganism grows in popularity and Melbourne experiences a burgeoning cruelty-free culinary scene, I’ve recently been reading some lively debate on social media around the issue of mock meat.
Some vegetarians love it and find it happily replaces a gap left in their diet after giving up real meat, and others are appalled by the very idea of trying to replicate the taste and texture of animal flesh.
As a lifelong vegetarian I don’t have any tangible concept of what actual meat tastes like or feels like to chew in my mouth. For me, mock meat is not a replacement for real meat, but instead it’s an extension of my plant based diet that adds a variety of interesting tastes and textures.
I don’t eat mock meat every day, but I really enjoy it when I do. I particularly like the chewiness of gluten based mock meats and the deeply savoury flavours that are imbued in them. I assume that these oral experiences are a large part of the appeal of real meat.
I actually can’t really see the difference in eating mock meat and drinking soy milk or enjoying nut cheese. They are all vegan foods based on the concept of an animal product. Each ends up with its own unique variation.
Mainstream supermarkets in Australia offer very little in the way of mock meat products but Asian grocery stores are often an Aladdin’s Cave of fake meats and seafood. They are also usually the best supplier of a wide variety of different tofu. I can easily spend a happy half hour perusing the fridges and freezers for new additions to my culinary repertoire. I tend to come away so laden that I have to clear out the back of the freezer when I get home to make space for my haul.
I believe that there’s no right nor wrong in the decision to enjoy mock meats as a vegetarian or vegan. After all, to live and let live is a motto that most of us try to live by. But my personal choice is definitely to fake it, and I make absolutely no apology for that.
I have always been terrible at making pancakes.
I have never really understood why, but it has always been so, both pre and post vegan. I produce sad, gluggy things that barely resemble the pancakes I remember. I like them light and fluffy.
I’ve finally worked out that it might be the flour I was using. I bake bread fairly often and I always have specialist high protein bread flour in the cupboard. I’d been using this for the pancakes and it isn’t really right. They need a softer, lower protein flour, so I recently made pancakes with some regular supermarket flour.
Not surprisingly they didn’t turn out sad at all, but light and fluffy, so I decided they deserved to be published. I mean look at them.They are gorgeous. If I sound a bit chuffed about them…that’s because I am.
I decided to take these in a Mexican direction so I topped them with some vegan butter and a salsa made from tomatoes, onion, coriander and avocado.
They also work as sweet pancakes, I ate the second lot with vegan butter and maple syrup.
I have finally conquered the pancake!
|Smith and Deli - Home Alone sandwich|
|Vegetarian hog's head|
|Liz O'Brien's sausage rolls|
|Celia's overnight sourdough bread|
|Street art - Fitzroy pool|
Tue to Sat 8am–7pm
Smith & Deli is an all vegan, New York style deli bought to life by our friends from Smith & Daughters. This is the place to stop by for bread, pastries, coffee, cheeses, meats (all vegan remember!), salads, soups, pies, meals to go and an incredible array of over 25 sandwiches.
Sandwiches are king at Smith & Deli and the menu may stun you with the sheer amount of options of available, so check it out before you go. The 'Rubenstein' ($15) is a good pick with pastrami, sauerkraut, pickles and Russian dressing on rye; or go for a 'Buffalo the Vampire Slayer' ($12) with buffalo tofu, ranch, shredded iceberg, carrot, onion and celery in a roll. Next time I think I'll channel Kevin and try the 'Home Alone' ($15) made up of turkey, roasted brussel sprouts, cranberry sauce, mashed potato & gravy, all on a roll. Gluten free bread is available for all sandwiches for an extra $2.
Some lighter options that are more in the breakfast camp are also on offer, including a variety of grilled cheese sandwiches ($8-$12), croissants, and chef Shannon Martinez's take on a popular fast food breakfast item with the 'Egg McMartinez' ($7) including egg, bacon and cheddar on an English muffin with your choice of sauce.
Meals to go, such as pizza ('pepperoni' $16), lasagne, pies (four different flavours everyday, in both single and family sizes), sausages, schnitzels, tofu and tempeh are all available.
The cabinets are full of sweet treats too, where (with options rotating daily) you might find 'Maple Bacon Donuts' ($5), 'Vanilla Slice ($6), 'Apple Pie Bars' ($5), 'Lemon Tarts' ($7) and much more.
Black coffee is $3.50 or $4 with non-dairy milk – or add an extra $2 for Smith & Deli's own fresh nut milk. The chai soy latte sweetened with agave nectar ($4) is great.
As their slogan goes: Thank you for being a friend, Smith & Deli!
Smith & Deli is finally here. It has been worth the wait. I didn’t think it was possible to love something more than Smith & Daughters, but I do.
I turned up at 8.15 am on the opening day thinking I might be able to dash in and grab something for breakfast. An Egg McMartinez perhaps? The place was buzzing, with a queue snaking its way to the door. I had to leave to do some volunteering so I headed out again, postponing my visit until 1.30pm.
When I arrived back there was a queue snaking its way out the door…
I joined it and spent my waiting time productively, collecting various goodies as I passed them on the way to the till. Like lollies at the checkout, I grabbed some shallot sourdough from Noisette bakery, some tortillas, a frozen chicken curry pie and spent a long time cruising the cakes and deli items for future reference. To my disappointment, the last vanilla slice disappeared before my eyes. Oh well, something to look forward to.
I also had lots of time to admire the cute retro decor, perfect right down to the gingham shirts worn by the staff and Patsy Cline on the stereo.
At the ordering station, staffed by the ever lovely Mo, I settled on a Home Alone sandwich. This might have been made for me, stuffed as it was with all the kinds of foods I love. Turkey, stuffing, roasted brussels sprouts, cranberry sauce, mashed potato and gravy. Utter, utter heaven. There were a couple of substitutions for my sandwich because they had run out of rolls and turkey. They subbed in turkish bread (fine by me, I love it) and chicken salad for the turkey. I don’t know what the original is like but this was fantastic. I cannot imagine a better sandwich. I got a bit teary as I ate it.
I love sandwiches, but frankly our options are often limited at non vegan places to hummus and salad. The sandwich list here is 32 varieties long and runs over two blackboards and every damn one sounds fabulous. I plan to blog the entire sandwich list as part of Vegan MoFo 2015.
As an unreformed pastry addict I also ordered a beef bourguignon pie. I confess I ate that as well as the sandwich. I am now very full.
I had intended to take the pie home to eat, but I scoffed half on the drive home. It was great, a rich buttery shortcrust pastry bottom with a flaky top, packed full of intense red wine, mushroom and beefy flavours. Even allowing for the fact that I think anything wrapped in pastry is special, this was a great pie.
The sandwich, I did manage to wait until I got home. I can’t begin to describe how happy it made me. Just let me say that any sandwich that leaves you tearing up is special.
But the joy doesn’t stop with sandwiches, cakes and pies. You can pick up take away meals, soups, pies, pizza, deli meats, cheeses and salads as well as dips, bread and all kinds of staples.
Any other shop where you had to wait for food might make people a bit grumpy, but the vibe was so nice, people in the queue laughing and talking to each other. The cheerful staff keep the queue snaking around in an orderly fashion to get people in from out in the cold and they give helpful advice as to what items are available quickly if you are in a hurry. By day three (yes I went the first three days in a row) they had improved the wait time by taking sandwich orders in the queue so they are made (or almost made) by the time you reach the cash register.
While I was waiting I had one man tell me he was so happy because he hadn’t had food like this for almost 20 years since becoming a vegan. We were almost a bit weepy.
Thanks S&D for making my day so happy (and gluttonous).
Note: I went again the next day and had a custard and quince danish. Crunchy, flaky, delicious. And the day after, another sandwich, the Temple of Doom. I’m stopping for a day or two now.
Smith & Deli
111 Moor St
We had a fantastic celebratory dinner at Ren Dao in Melbourne’s Elsternwick last night. The evening heralded the end of mid term exams for my son and we all felt like we deserved an evening out.
The all vegan meal was really great. We’ve eaten at Ren Dao a few times before but I felt it has improved recently. Everything we ordered was excellent and also beautifully presented. The service was great; attentive and friendly but not overbearing in any way. My only complaint was that the starter didn’t come out first and the dishes trickled out from the kitchen at different times. We were sharing all the dishes so the timing wasn’t a great problem, but I usually prefer to have the starter upfront.
We ordered vege prawns to start (supposedly, although they arrived half way through the meal). They looked amazing and were deliciously crispy with a sweet dipping sauce. I would have prefered a chili sauce but it was still great. For mains, to share, we had an amazing coconut butter chicken, mee goreng noodles and the fresh daily greens. The greens turned out to be a great mix of greens and mock meats in a lovely light sauce and were a nice compliment to the other dishes. The butter chicken was the standout dish of the night with its crispy balls of mock chicken ready to dip in a wonderful coconut sauce. I also really loved the mee goreng noodles. Mee goreng is my favourite go to dish in Asian restaurants and this version was excellent. We requested it spicy and the heat was spot on.
All in all, an excellent meal.
275 Glenhuntly Rd, Elsternwick 3185
Overall rating 8/10