We made plans for one of our spare holiday weekdays to go exploring in Preston. Stop one was Mad Cowgirls Vegan Grocery. Stop two (following a few op-shop visits) was meant to be the relocated Discobeans. Sadly, they were still on summer holidays. "No problems," we thought, "we'll just head down to La Panella for pies." Another bust - closed until the 3rd. Luckily on our wanderings we'd stumbled across a newly opened branch of Lentil As Anything. Our failures left us with the perfect excuse to check it out.
It's closer in spirit to the St Kilda branch than the big one in Abbotsford - there's a set menu with about a dozen dishes, a coffee machine and homemade lemonade to drink. The overarching premise - not-for-profit and pay-what-you-feel - is the same, as is the slightly hippyish vibe. The menu covers the staples: a veggie burger, a few Indian and Thai curries, a vegge lasagne and so forth. Gluten-free options are marked and but vegan ones aren't, so double check that when you're ordering.
Cindy tried the okonomiyaki - an already sliced up pancake dotted with mayo, sweet soy sauce and pickled ginger surrounding a fresh salad.
The pancake was thin, but retained a soft centre. Flavour-wise, the pickled ginger was the star of the show, cutting through a pretty sweet dressing.
I ordered the Vietnamese salad - shredded vegetables, marinated tofu, peanuts and crispy shallots dressed in a soy chilli garlic dressing.
The salad was nice and fresh with a decent sprinkling of peanuts and fried shallots for crunch. The marinated tofu was sweet, thin and heavily marinated. The sauce was sweet as well - too sweet really - and lacking in any sort of chilli punch. The whole thing was a tiny bit disappointing - if they cut down the sugar/honey, added a bit of vinegar and a big whollop of chilli then this would be an excellent dish.
It feels a bit churlish to grumble about the quality of the food - Lentil As Anything is doing great work based on wonderful values and is well worth our support. I prefer the Abbotsford version, where you get a rotating selection of dishes, but it's lovely to see them expanding their operations northwards.
You can read about our previous visits to the St Kilda and Abbotsford branches. Nobody else has blogged about this new Preston branch yet.
Lentil As Anything
288 High Street, Preston
pay whatever you want!
Accessibility: There's a single large step as you enter and a reasonably spacious front room. We ordered at the table and paid via one of the magic boxes installed quite high on the wall. We didn't explore the courtyard or visit the toilets.