Last month I spotted a new Brunswick St cafe under construction with a sign promising Herbivore Vegetarian. I was baffled but no less excited when Steph announced she'd visited brand new vegetarian restaurant Madame K's on Brunswick St. There was some confusion about whether this was the same business, but Michael and I resolved it by checking in for lunch the next day.
Indeed, it was the same shop front (formerly occupied by the cheap-and-cheerful enough Yume) but any hint of Herbivore had vanished. We were happy with what we saw instead: a neat cafe with a menu full of Asian vegetarian dishes, from Japanese-style eggplant to Chinese 'chicken' and corn soup, gado gado and Thai-style curries. Roughly half the dishes include mock meat.
The cafe is licensed but also offers a range of non-alcoholic drinks, from the usual soft drinks to freshly prepared juices and smoothies, tea and a mocktail. On this, their third day of business, they weren't quite prepared with the smoothies and mocktails yet but Michael got a cute apple, carrot and ginger juice all bottled up ($5.90).
Food took a little longer to arrive than we would have liked, but we figured that allowances need to be made in a business' first week. Once on the table Michael swooped on his nasi goreng ($15.90) topped with 'chicken' satay skewers.
While my Chicken Rice ($15.90) looked a little more insipid, all pale and grey-ish, it was actually the flavour-packing winner! The rice was so fragrant (infused with galangal, I think) and the salted bean sauce, just sensational.
The staff were slightly overwhelmed but extremely polite - hopefully a little more practice is all they need to generate the perfect cafe atmosphere. With the mains priced around the $16 mark Madame K's is a smidge more expensive than its obvious competitors but so far it looks like the quality of the food warrants the extra couple of dollars. I'm looking forward to a revisit!
I know we're not the only veg*ns chuckling over Tom Stanislavski's claim that ''In Fitzroy, apart from the Vegie Bar, there's nothing with a vegetarian focus.'' Tom's restaurant St Jude's may be situated within the most veg-dense couple of blocks in Melbourne! Yes, there's the long-running Vegie Bar, but also the terrific Yong, now promising Madame K and soon a gut-busting Lord of the Fries outlet, and that's not even starting on the dozens of veg-friendly restaurants spanning the rest of Fitzroy. Come on in, Tom, the water's fine - and there's no better place to start than Madame K's chicken rice.
Read the first write-up of Madame K's Vegetarian on Vegan About Town.
Madame K's Vegetarian
367 Brunswick St, Fitzroy
snacks & mains $4.90-16.90
http://www.madamek.com.au/ (currently inactive)
Accessibility: There's a small step up on entry and tables are quite densely laid out. We ordered at the table and paid at a medium-high counter at the back. We didn't visit the toilets.