Our love of Mankoushe is no secret - we've raved about their bakery, gushed over the cafe and generally told everyone we know to swing by for a visit. So we were thrilled when a friend booked in their birthday dinner at the cafe.
The staff are completely on top of dietary issues and we basically sent them off to bring us as much vegan food as we could eat. They started well with this broad bean, tahini, coriander and pumpkin seed dip, served with freshly baked bread ($9).
Then came probably my favourite dish - cabbage leaves rolled with spiced rice and chickpeas ($14).
I'm often a bit disappointed by soggy cabbage leaf wraps, but these were lovely - rich and filling, with plenty of flavour in the rice stuffing.
Next up were a couple of salads - the lentil salad with caramelised onion, fresh coriander and sliced radish ($15)...
... and the fresh herb salad with tomato, roasted bread and sumac ($13)
The herb salad relied a bit too much on fresh tomatoes for my tastes, but the lentil salad was excellent - crispy radish giving some crunch to go with the soft lentils and the coriander and dotted pomegranate seeds providing bursts of flavour.
After all that freshness, the organic pontiac potatoes, stuffed with burghal in a tomato stew, topped with pomegranate molasses ($17) were a good hearty option - saucy and delicious.
The pumpkin kibe stuffed with curried potato and fresh green peas ($14) were super crisp balls of mildly spiced veggies, with a nice tomato/pomegranate relish for smearing.
The last dish were these excellent potato and ginger turnovers topped with carob molasses ($14).
Mankoushe Cafe really is a superbly vegan-friendly place - we were stuffed after all these dishes, unable to sample either of the two vegan pides on the menu (plus there's the felafel and all the bakery options from next door). They switch things around pretty regularly too - every time we've been in there have been exciting new dishes to try.
There is not much more to say about Mankoushe - it's simply one of Brunswick's best cafes - the staff are incredibly friendly, the food consistently excellent and the vegan options plentiful.
Read about our previous visit to the cafe here and to the bakery here and here. Since our last visit, Skinny Glutton and The City Lane have visited and loved the bakery.
323 Lygon St, Brunswick East
veg starters $7-13.50, veg main $21
Accessibility: There's a small step up through a narrow-ish entry but everything's more generously spaced once you're in. We ordered and paid at the table, and didn't visit the toilets.