We're still working our way through Aduki's awesome Melbourne Veg Food Guide, so a Christmas party trip to the Fitzroy Bowls Club was the perfect excuse for me to meet up with Cindy on St Georges Road and check out Melbourne's latest pay-what-you-feel veg restaurant: Ganesh Vegan and Vegetarian Cafe.
Ganesh seems to have gone through a few iterations - when Kristy and Toby went last year it was the Dhal Bar, and when the Aduki folk reviewed it there seemed to have been fixed prices. Nowadays there's a smallish menu (about 7 dishes), some friendly staff and a big pot in which deposit whatever price you think is fair. Once we'd told the guy who greeted us that we'd not visited before, he suggested that we just try a little of everything and neither of us were going to argue.
Our table was quickly laden with food (all of which was vegan): purri, rice, a potato curry with peas and sundried raisins, a pumpkin curry with roast sesame, dates and Szechuan pepper, a Thai tofu and spinach masala, broad beans with seaweed, smoked tofu and tomato, coconut and tamarind pickles and a little bowl with vadai in it. Wowsers.
As if that wasn't enough, our waiter ducked back straight away and added a huge bowl of stir-fried mixed vegies.
Despite the ridiculous amount of food on offer, Cindy insisted that we sample from their few dessert options, going with some maple syrup walnuts and poached spiced figs.
The walnuts were basically candied - sweet and crunchy, combining well with the chewier poached figs. They, like the whole meal really, were pretty tasty without being mind-blowingly good. The pay-what-you-feel ethos means that this can be as cheap or expensive as you like, which means it's hard to complain about the value, and the array of vegan dishes is impressive. The food was plentiful and tasty - it was hard not to make comparisons with Gujju's - Ganesh wins in terms of variety, but the dishes themselves were a bit less impressive than the delights served up in East Malvern.
Update 10/5/10: Word on the street is that Ganesh has closed down. Very unfortunate.
Address: 376 St Georges Road, North Fitzroy
Ph: 9489 4615 (although it's not working at the moment apparently)
Price: Whatever you like (cash only)