Cindy and I spent all Monday afternoon napping to recover from Golden Plains, meaning that dinner time came around and we had an empty fridge. We were both lacking the energy for any major food excursion, so it was lucky that Johanna had recently gushed about the Vina Bar on Lygon St. Cindy and I have almost entirely given up on the Carlton stretch of Lygon, with only the occasional visit to Trotters in a strip of dozens of tacky-looking Italian places. It was good of Johanna to remind us that there are still treasures to be found amongst all the dross and the speedy, cheap Vina Bar lived up to her enthusiastic recommendation.
We parked ourselves in the small and slightly crowded indoor area, escaping both the heat and the cigarette smoke outside. The menu provided a fairly decent number of vegetarian options, and I was tempted by the idea of curry, but in the end I had to follow Johanna's lead and order the vermicelli noodles with spring rolls ($10). I told myself that it was mainly about the crisp fresh vegies and slivers of tofu, but really the key to the meal was the deep-fried spring roll pieces. These are some fine morsels of flavour - filled with a much more interesting mix of vegies than the usual cabbagey mush and without a hint of the oily sogginess that blights spring rolls elsewhere. The only disappointment was that I ate them all too quickly and was left with more than half a bowl full of healthy bits. Still, even the noodles and vegies were thoroughly enjoyable - particularly when the chilli/soy sauce was poured through them.
Cindy went for the vegetarian crepe - which was actually more like an omelette than a crepe, a very eggy batter full of onion and mushroom bits wrapped around a gigantic pile of bean sprouts. It probably didn't quite fulfill the healthy role that Cindy was originally looking for to make up for three days of deep-fried festival food, but it certainly hit the spot. And there were some nice fresh salady bits on the side, so we could pretend.
Edit 04/05/09: We're sad to report that Vina Bar closed last month. I wish I'd had one more chance to enjoy their terrific spring rolls!
Address: 253 Lygon Street, Carlton
Ph: 9347 2510