We've been looking forward to seeing the Guggenheim Collection at the NGV and jumped at the chance to attend the preview screening on Friday night. As far as dinner goes, the surrounds seem to be dominated by overpriced bar food and the Crown. Rather than succumbing to the neon lights we discovered the more zen Enlightenment Cuisine Chinese Vegetarian Restaurant, tucked away a little further along Queensbridge St. Much like the White Lotus, this is a very mock meat experience (chicken, duck, beef, lamb and a variety of seafoods) although there are also tofu-based and vege-only dishes in the menu as well. Meals are free of garlic, onions and leek and the restaurant strives to be vegan-friendly. The meals are a dollar or two more here than at the restaurant's North Melbourne ally, but for those dollars you'll receive a more meditative atmosphere: tables are large, of lacquered dark wood, and well spaced; decorations are similarly sparse and tasteful, and piano music tinkles on the stereo.
Mindful of the few hours that the art gallery remained open, we reluctantly skipped the entrees and soups, heading straight for the mains. For Michael, it was Kung Po Lamb: gluten, mushrooms, capsicum and dried chillies in a sweet, tangy and somewhat fiery sauce. I thought it was great and I can only assume that Michael did too given how quickly he finished it. I tried the roasted duck: its 'skin' was super-crispy, probably due to the light use of plum sauce (sweet, but not syrupy). I, too, managed to clear my plate! Some more veges would have made a more well-rounded meal, but this portion size didn't sit heavily in my stomach and we comfortably bustled on to the main event.
Given its closer proximity to our home, we're more likely to make repeat visits to the White Lotus than Enlightenment Cuisine. However, Enlightenment Cuisine does a equally enjoyable line of Chinese mock meats and I may well rely on this haven again when I'm hungry and in the shadow of the casino.
Address: 113 Queensbridge St, Southbank
Ph: 9686 9188
Price: veg mains ~$12-23, rice extra