Wednesday, January 01, 2014

where's the best in 2013?

Another year has passed, which means it's time for us to update our where's the best? page once again. It's been a big year - Cindy sampled all the Auckland had to offer, I binged on Glasgow's vegan pubs and enjoyed some more of Brisbane's veggie options. We've also moved house, so expect a few more Brunswick posts and a few less Carlton posts in the years ahead.

a vegan variation on the a la carte dessert menu at Milse, Auckland
We've had a big year of eating out, which means there aren't as many exciting new recipes to add to our list this year. Cindy's had a good run with sweets - adding two new kinds of choc chip cookies to her rotation (can't-stop choc chip cookies and rosemary choc chip cookies), along with a suite of choc-peanut delights (peanut butter caramel slice, Reese's pretzels and sniggers bars). She also made a vegan version of an old family favourite, bienenstich.

We said farewell to our old home with these incredible bacon 'n' egg muffins and tested out our new oven with delicious walnut crusted tofu cutlets. We discovered that ribbons are the best way to enjoy zucchini with this pad Thai salad and zucchini ribbons in almond pesto. We impressed a potluck crew with pumpkin and kale harissa polenta patties, recipe-tested and fell in love with Leigh Drew's pâté en croûte and warmed ourselves with chilli lime tamarind tofu and chipotle mac 'n' cheese with roasted brussel sprouts. Our crowning achievement? Probably the ridiculously good bbq pork bao.

  BBQ pork bao

In terms of eating out, we lost two of Melbourne's classic vegan-friendly eateries. The Gasometer (which we've reviewed one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten times) sadly shut its doors, while South's run at The People's Market was cut short. Thankfully, the brains behind the menus at both these places helped make The Sweetwater Inn an exciting Southside pub for vegans (also keep an eye out for Smith & Daughters in Fitzroy in 2014).

 The pie floater at The Sweetwater Inn, South Yarra

A couple of other old favourites have morphed - Coco Loco is now the Mexican-themed Papasito (which is still very vegan friendly), while L'atelier Monsieur Truffe has become East Elevation, maintaining its past breakfast excellence and provided us with a very fine dinner.

Chipotle-braised tempeh et al. at East Elevation, Brunswick East
We've been pretty impressed with a few veggie restaurants. Fina's Vegetarian Cafe, A Caterpillar's Dream and Vegie Mum all serve excellent mock-meat dishes, while Munsterhaus will load you up with fresh and healthy delights and Mister Nice Guy's Bakeshop will ply you with vegan pastries.

Vegie Mum, Doncaster
It's impossible to keep up with Melbourne's brunch scene - we've been impressed by newcomers Stovetop and Code Black as well as longer term success stories Small Victories, Acustico and Beatrix.

 Acustico, Brunswick

The Reverence Hotel, The Sporting Club and The Spotted Mallard have joined our ever-growing list of veg-friendly Melbourne pubs, while Bayte and UAE both offer high quality Middle Eastern meals with plenty of meat-free options.

Falafel at Bayte, Collingwood
Shu (twice) has probably been our most exciting discovery this year - I can't recommend their Wednesday night vegan nights highly enough. Shandong Mama and Dainty Sichuan provide top notch Chinese restaurant experiences that are a bit more conventional (if quite different to each other).

Wednesday night vegan degustation at Shu, Collingwood

We're behind the eight-ball dessert-wise (no visits to Spring Street Grocer or Messina yet!), but both Helados Jauja and Berrissimo (two, three) have impressed us with their vegan-friendly summery sweets.

Berrissimo, Fitzroy
Blog-wise we had a busy year, with 207 posts including 132 reviews of restaurants, pubs and cafes (for those keeping track - Cindy wrote 124, or 60% of our posts last year). Our top 10 most popular posts published this year are...
  1. Yong Green Food #5
  2. Thick golden dahl
  3. Lemon & sage white bean burgers
  4. Carnival cookies
  5. East Elevation
  6. Hello Aubergine (sadly closed, but replaced by the excellent Good Freakin' Food)
  7. Spoon's Vegetarian Butcher (also closed unfortunately)
  8. Gong de Lin
  9. Tofu-ricotta cheesecake
  10. Fina's Vegetarian Cafe
Our 2008 vegan sausage rolls post remains the most visited page on our blog every week.

We've also finally joined everyone else on Facebook - head over and like us there if you're after a slightly more interactive where's the beef? experience. We continue to meet lovely people and make great new friends via blogging - Melbourne has a wonderful veg*n blogging scene, and much of it is compiled on Planet VegMel. Thanks for hanging out with us in 2013 - we're looking forward to another big year of eating in 2014.


  1. Thanks for all your great reviews! And the sausage rolls featured in our menu plan this week :)

    1. Happy new year, Veganopoulous! Thanks for supporting the sausage rolls so regularly. ;-)

  2. Yes another year of impressive dedication to veg$n noms. I would request that this year we see more partial photos of your co-diners.

    1. We can probably manage that, Anon - I've been honing my photography of hands and arms in particular.

  3. Such a fine year for eats! I'm pleased that I was able to share some of them with you both, and that your recommendations, as always, lead to me having a year of fine eats myself! :D

    1. Hayley, it has been a pleasure to share several of them with you - I hope there's more co-dining ahead for us in 2014.

  4. Despite living in Sydney, Where's the Beef is still my favourite food blog. You guys got me hooked when I first tried your tahini granola. Thanks for all the goodness!

  5. A fabulous wrap up, it's been great reading along on all your adventures! Excited to see what's ahead for you in 2014.

    PS. Spoon's Vegetarian Butcher has closed however Suzy Spoon's Vegetarian Butcher opened in Newtown. You must come check it out when you're next in Sydney!

    1. Happy new year, vegeTARAian! Thanks for the Spoon's update, I hope we'll get a chance to visit the new version in 2014.

  6. belated happy new year - that is a lot of blogging and a lot of eating out! I love your recipes and whenever I need to find a cafe recommendation I am in your index searching - have now discovered east elevation which is current favourite place to go - hopefully catch up with you during the year

    1. Happy new year, Johanna! I hope we'll see each other at a picnic before the summer's over. :-)