We've had a couple of pretty reasonable meals at the Wesley Anne over the years, but it wasn't that high on our revisit list until we got an email from reader Leah raving about the new veggie options on their menu. It still took us a few months to get our act together, but we finally managed to tack a lunch visit onto a Women of Letters afternoon on the weekend.
It's always been a lovely room with the high ceilings, beautiful stone walls and a dark and understated vibe. It's a pretty popular place, but turning up for lunch on a Sunday gives you your pick of the tables. The menu has changed a bit since our last trip, with a broader range of vegan options and a nice mix of small plates and mains.
I went for one of the vegan mains: smoked tofu with soba noodles, spring onions, cucumber and wakame ($20).
I was very happy with this - smoked tofu is a sure fire winner, and the noodle-based salad was dressed with just the right amount of sesame oil. The price is probably a smidgen steep, but it's a filling and tasty meal.
The other vegan main (roasted cauliflower, quinoa, spinach, pine nut and radish, $20) sounded great as well, but Cindy only had eyes for the starters. She took Leah's advice and ordered the soft shell tacos with smoked tofu, salsa and chipotle ($12).
They look pretty simple in that picture, but they really were exceptional, with the condiments bringing out the best in the lightly charred smoked tofu. The salsa was sweet and a bit spicy, offset nicely by the smoky, hot chipotle. Add a squeeze of lime and you've got yourself some top notch tacos.
The second dish Cindy ordered was the mushroom tartlets, with Swiss brown and porcini mushrooms, frieze and basil salad and pecorino cheese ($12).
These were tiny little bites - basically a mouthful each. The filling was rich and shroomy, with the greens adding a burst of freshness on top and the cheese an extra salty dimension. I really liked them, but there was a general sense that you'd want a bit more food for $12.
We had a brilliant lunch at the Wesley Anne - the food has gone from strength the strength and the atmosphere is really pleasant before it fills up later in the evening. There's a good range of booze, the staff are friendly and efficient, and the whole experience really hit the mark. The prices are probably a bit over the top - we spent nearly $50 on these three dishes, which is pretty stiff for lunch, no matter how good. But you do at least get what you pay for - well prepared and varied food with a range of dietary options well catered for.
You can read about our previous visits to the Wesley Anne here and here. Since then only Where Adles Eats seems to have reviewed the Wesley Anne.
250 High St, Northcote
veg entrées $6-13, mains $20-25
Accessibility: Pretty poor. There's a step or two coming in and then a pretty dim and crowded interior. The toilets are small and a bit awkward (though they are unisex).