For Michael's birthday dinner we gave Albert St Food & Wine a long overdue try. Their menu's pretty meaty, with distinctly non-vegetarian charcuterie, grill and mains sections, but Marieke has reported several happy vegan meals there and Carla's given it a shot too. I suspect even Michael was keen to test chef Philippa Sibley's reputation for spectacular (albeit largely non-vegan) desserts.
Sadly his level of anticipation didn't stretch to packing the camera, so we're presenting some fairly ordinary phone photos. Sorry!
We picked through the starters, specials and sides and found plenty to share. First plate up was grilled haloumi topped with zucchini pickle ($16). We've eaten a lot of haloumi in our time, but nothing quite like this. It was like some kind of divine cheeseburger.
The next dish caused a little confusion but also plenty of pleasure. We thought the waiter called it cauliflower, but we couldn't find any of that. We later discovered that it was our avocado starter ($18), although there wasn't any of that in it either! (When the kitchen figured out their omission, they made sure we didn't pay for it.) As it was, the walnut skordalia proved rich enough to bring together the potatoes, sorrel and gem lettuce leaves.
The ancient grain salad ($12) was like something straight from Plenty - all quinoa, dill and pomegranate seeds, scattered with fried onion.
The cauliflower ($14) - when it actually arrived - was crisp and finely sliced, sweetened with grapes, tossed with micro-leaves and teamed with uneven chunks of blue cheese.
Our last and most substantial savoury dish was a seasonal mushroom pizza (~$20). It had a soft, light crust, was sparing on the cheese and generously drizzled with oil.
We made sure to leave room for dessert and met with Iggy Popcorn ($18), a milky chocolate mousse on a popcorn biscuit base with poached pear, pear sorbet, more popcorn and chocolate. Props for lending milk chocolate the kind of composure and sophistication that's usually reserved for higher cocoa content.
Goldy Hawn ($19) was a little upstaged by Iggy - the gingerbread cream lacked spark but the fresh pineapple propped it up, and who could quibble with doughnuts?
We had a lovely evening at Albert St - special but not starchy, with capable staff and vegetarian dishes that ranged from good to really great. I can't quite decide whether the price was right. Their variation from dish to dish didn't correspond directly to how much they filled me up or how I'd rate them. Like Cutler & Co, I left wondering if they'd be amenable to a 9pm dessert drop-in.
We previously wrote about their breakfast here.
Albert St Food & Wine has had the vegan treatment on easy as vegan pie: Carla loved the food but baulked at the price. You will struggle to find a bad word about the restaurant on an omni blog. Since our last visit it's been covered on two Munch, Almost Always Ravenous, Gourmet Chick, I Eat Therefore I Am, Kit's Cucina Culinaria, my seasonal table, Eat. Play. Shop., MoMo & Coco, Food Amie, Fitzroyalty, The Glutton and The Lush, grazing panda, A Sheepish Flog, This Food Guy, ChopinandMysaucepan, The City Lane, where Adles Eats and bonjourchickie.
Albert St Food and Wine
382 Sydney Road (cnr Albert), Brunswick
veg dishes $9-$30
Accessibility: Albert St has a ramped entryway and is fairly roomy inside. Ordering and payment happens at the table. We didn't visit the bathrooms.