East Elevation is not currently offering a weekly dinner service, but they do run the odd special event. When we caught wind of their July vegan dinner we were signed up in seconds - their equivalent event one year ago was delightful. (Hot tip - they've another on August 7 that's sold out and they will consider an encore on August 8 if enough people show interest!)
With this $60 six courser, East Elevation outshone the all bright hopes I held for the meal. I don't think you can find anything else like it in this city. It began with small plates presenting Jerusalem artichoke as a puree with pepitas and truffle, but also fried to a crisp and salted - a nice interplay of comforting savoury softness and light crunchy touches.
Tilting further to soft comforts were these jars of soy custard with surprisingly sweet fresh and pickled mushrooms, topped with a kombu and shiitake broth at the table.
The night's crowd pleaser was a buttery confit Nicola potato set in a soy emulsion with toasted shallots, burnt leek and vegan parmesan. I reckon this is what a sour cream-and-chive baked potato looks and tastes like in heaven.
The final savoury course was more divisive. While the baby carrots - baked, pickled and pureed - were sweet and inoffensive, not everyone took to the grassy-earthy tones of the Coopers stout soil and the hay puree. The larger clods of 'soil' reminded me happily of Weetbix, and I enjoyed the sights and smells of a paddock that it evoked. For me the only hiccup was that, on a cold and dark winter night, this dish was served at room temperature.
Nothing gets me onside a degustation like a menu with two desserts! Never mind that I couldn't quite reconcile my taste buds to the first fruity one - poached rhubarb and blood orange served with a dollop of lumpy, ricotta-like almond curd, a pretty but bitter nasturtium leaf and a disorienting stem of smoked rhubarb.
By contrast the chocolate and almond-themed finale really hit home with its sweet scatter. A spill of almond milk, a shard of dark chocolate and a puff of Persian fairy floss; a crunchy crush of praline, equal parts almond and amber toffee; a tiny sundae of shaved chocolate and almond milk granita that started with matching textures then melted unevenly in the mouth to matching temperatures. And a cup of East Elevation's specialty Monsieur Truffe hot chocolate on a base of almond milk - until I drank it I was yearning for more and more of this meal, but I finished completely, deeply satisfied.
Here are our previous one, two, three, four, five, six blog posts about East Elevation. This particular evening has also been blogged on quinces and kale.
351 Lygon St, Brunswick East
set menu $60
Accessibility: Excellent. A ramp on entry, great light, lots of space and spacious individual unisex toilets, at least one of which has disability signage. Ordering happens at the table and payment at a reasonably low counter.