06/11/2012: We're sad to report that Purple Patch has now closed.
The distribution of restaurant reviews on our blog reflects the fairly limited focus of our Melbourne explorations - we mostly eat in the triangle of Melbourne that has points in the CBD, Brunswick and Northcote, with just the occasional foray further afield. A fairly vacant Sunday gave us the opportunity to go one of those forays, and when Troy and Clamps suggested riding out to Sandringham to check out a new veg cafe, I was sold.
Purple Patch has been around in Sandringham for a little while, but we'd only heard third-hand mutterings about it. It turns out to be a fairly minimalist sort of place, with the emphasis on the coffee and the food. They use Monk Bodhi Dharma coffee beans and produced a series of excellent (and excellent-looking) coffees while the three bike-riders awaited Cindy's arrival on the train. We also snuck in some of the chunky chips with rosemary lime and relish ($7).
The chips were great - thick wedges of beautifully cooked spud, with subtle hints of lime and rosemary. On the other hand, the relish was pretty drab - it seemed like a bowl of mashed up raw tomato without a lot else going on. Luckily the chips could stand alone.
When Cindy arrived we got stuck into the menu proper: there's a wide range of breakfast options, plus $12 lunches, with a rotating cast of dishes (e.g. mushroom stroganoff, white bean and rocket medley, dahl, moussaka, etc). Almost everything is either vegan or vegan-adaptable. I had the breakfast special - a big vegan fry-up ($16.50) which included a massive hash-brown, mushrooms, avocado, caramelised onion, tomato and toast.
This was a pretty perfect post-ride lunch - the mushrooms a particular stand-out thanks to the creamy vegan sauce they were fried in. The avo too was spot on - ripe and fresh and lemony without being overpowered by citrus. The only downside was the lack of protein - I want veggie sausages or something in a fry up, although to be fair I would have struggled to fit them in. $16.50 was a bit expensive but it was a big plate of food - I've paid more for less.
Cindy ordered one of the vegan pies ($6), which was filled with a satay vegetable mix. The vegan pastry was excellent and the filling was okay, though Cindy wanted a bit more oomph in the satay.
We spent most of our lunch eyeing off the sweets cabinet and, after a brief pause, we dived in to try it out. I took on one of the vegan chocolate cakes ($6), which was a dense, moist delight. Cindy went for a yo-yo ($3) which was another success story - particularly thanks to the tangy whipped passionfruit icing in between the bikkies (we're not sure if these were vegan - they were about the only unlabelled thing in the whole place).
Purple Patch ticks a lot of boxes: great coffee, friendly staff, a wide-ranging vegan-friendly menu, delicious sweets and a laid-back atmosphere. The food we had was mostly great, with just a few disappointments (the reliance on the raw tomato relish across most of our dishes was particularly odd). There's a lot more to try on the menu, although it may be a while before my body is up to another 50km ride (Purple Patch is about 150 metres from the train station for more sensible people). It might be a while before we get back, so we'd love to hear updates from anyone else who visits!
19 Bay Road, Sandringham
veg dishes $6.5 - $16.50
Accessibility: The door looks to have a small lip on it (see top picture) and there's a fairly spacious interior. Ordering takes place at the table, with payment at a low-ish counter. The bathroom is unisex and a little on the crowded side.