Okay, don’t shout at me! I know this isn’t strictly a post about a Cape Town based eatery. You may just be inspired after reading about my experience, so get out those reading glasses!
Last night I returned from a 12-day trip to Melbourne, Australia for a wedding. I had zero expectations and understood (from the little bit of research I did on Google) that Melbourne would have a few vegan options.
OH. MY. ****!
Melbourne is literally the vegan Mecca of the world, with one suburb, Fitzroy, boasting vegan restaurant after restaurant after vegan shop, after vegan clothing store, etc.
I happened to travel two hours out of Melbourne to a little seaside town, called Lorne expecting zero vegan options and walked away with a trolley full of vegan food (ready-grated cheese, biscuits, ice cream, mayo, burgers, etc.) and even a jam donut from Grandma Shields Bakery that was (you guessed it) vegan!
These folks down under are seriously clued up and happy to answer questions about vegan options.
These were my highlights; eateries that blew my mind…
LORD OF THE FRIES…
is a vegan and vegetarian junk food chain that cleverly disguises its menu to SOUND like you are ordering meat. Wait! What? A quick glance at the menu makes you think you are looking at a normal burger joint but the names of their burgers are how they cleverly disguise the fact that you are eating plant-based foods: “Original, Spicy, Chick’n, New Guru, Poutine, Parma, Phish”. Hell yes! EVERYTHING from their nuggets, to their peanut butter chocolate shakes have a vegan option, and there are eight branches to chow at throughout Melbourne. I have to confess that I went three times. I had to try everything. And it’s GOOOOOOD.
reminded me of eating pizza that looked similar to what the Ninja Turtles ate I walked for days to find this place and trotted out of their shop in Flinders Street with a large (vegan) ham and salami pizza. When I got back to my AirBnB I had already eaten a slice (or three) while on foot, so I settled down to devour the rest and I must admit, it was quite a religious experience.
SMITH & DAUGHTERS
in Fitzroy was probably my second favourite experience as it was definitely one of the most quirky. EVERYTHING on the menu was plant-based (including the cocktails!), and the tapas vibe made it a pleasure to share their exquisite food with my friends (none of whom were vegan) who absolutely devoured every mouthful. Their Latin-inspired cuisine highlighted dishes from Mexico, Columbia, Peru and Spain to mention but a few and their faux prawns were so realistic (to the eye and the tastebuds) that I actually couldn’t eat them! Mention has to be made of (what seems to be) a mildly “satanic” theme – almost like sitting in a restaurant that had been created by Tim Burton. I was in no way offended and had a good chuckle at how edgy this place was and even walked away with a t-shirt. The service (like everywhere in Melbourne) was impeccable. Prawns aside, we feasted on paella fritters, sopa seca, patatas con chorizo tacos and finally ended the evening with warm Spanish doughnuts that were filled with quince and dusted with spiced sugar!
ALSO located in Fitzroy has sort of bought up the restaurant next door and named it Transformer Fitzroy as well as a dessert café next door (Boys and Girls Fitzroy)- all of which (you guessed it) have menus that are MOSTLY plant-based (with some limited vegetarian options)! I actually went here twice – the first time I had their baked vegan nachos that had a wicked sour cream and then a week later devoured another delicious pizza with a base of rich tomato sumo and vegan pesto topped with baby spinach leaves, vegan mozzarella, caramelised onion, roasted pumpkin and cherry tomatoes. This place was literally all about comfort food – but had options for gluten-free and raw vegan patrons as well.
has to be the all-time best vegan den of sin! They have VEGAN EGGS. Like LITERAL EGGS – that look and taste like eggs (although fractionally sweeter), with a yolk that actually runs when you cut it open. Again – I went twice in the time I was there -firstly for the two poached eggs with saffron hollandaise, corn fritters, fried cauliflower, crispy kale and barbeque pulled jackfruit and then secondly for the potato and leek rosti with asparagus, truffle hollandaise and another one of their world-famous vegan eggs.
I felt like Columbus after I discovered a “Cruffin” which a croissant baked in a muffin pan and stuffed with “notella” a variation on Nutella!
There are too many places to mention – so these are literally just ones that really stuck out for me.
To sum up my trip I will list 10 things I learnt about Melbourne…
- There is vegan food EVERYWHERE and it is EASY to find
- Fitzroy is where I want to live when I grow up
- Vegan doughnuts are a thing in Melbourne and I even found one called “Cornelius Fudge” that had a magical vegan chocolate glaze topped with hazelnuts and vegan fidge pieces!
- The service in Melbourne is exceptional and (believe it or not) you DON’T TIP IN AUSTRALIA because the waitrons earn a great wage
- I walked to a vegan bakery one and a half hours from the CBD in a suburb called Ascot Vale and got sunstroke – wear sunscreen kids
- Melbourne is like a mini Singapore – both from its inhabitants to its restaurants and culture
- Vegan Eggs are a real thing
- The public transport is reliable, safe and easy to use, unlike other cities…. no names mentioned *cough* *capetown*
- You will come back from Melbourne one dress size bigger
- Vegan prawns still taste like prawns
Next stop internationally is London, but first – time to tear up some more restaurants in and around the Mother City.
PS – SO not food-related, I thought I’d share some other pics from my journey…