Friday, May 30, 2014

Warung Agus II

May 17, 2014


After talking up tempeh on twitter last month, we arranged to make a long overdue return to Warung Agus with a couple of friends. This restaurant's menu has only changed marginally since our last visit but we were still overwhelmed with the options, electing for a vegan banquet selected by the chef ($50pp).


Throughout the meal I sipped an expensive Es Jus Campur ($9), slushie of fruit juice and ice that tasted primarily of banana. Bowls of eye-watering chilli sambal and lemongrass-spiked onion pickle turned up early, to perk up all of what was to come.


Our first bites were the Krapuk Singkong, thick but airy cassava crackers served with the smoothest peanut sauce I've ever eaten, sweetness offset with fried shallots.


Next, mountains of steamed rice and a procession of 'proper' dishes. The room temperature Apokat Mebasa Santen Misi Oong won me with its mushrooms, generous avocado chunks, cherry tomatoes and coconut cream sauce.


Warung tested the strength of our satay love with tofu-tempeh-vegetable skewers drowned in more of the sauce and we passed, clearing the plate with only the briefest of second thoughts. Only I dabbled in the lightly pickled tomatoes and cucumber on the side.


The Pecel was a charming coconut-based stew filled out with mung beans. We'll have to hunt down a recipe for this one, as I reckon it'd make a great stand-alone winter meal to curl up on the couch with.


More of the tempeh we came for! This dry-fried Tempe Jagung, sticky with kecap manis, did not disappoint.


The Mie Goreng, though good, suffered for all the fine food we'd already filled up on. I enjoyed the vegetables but could only pick at it.


I just barely performed better on the widely recommended Tuung Mebasa Santen Lalah Manis, a silky eggplant and tofu dish that's a worthy centrepiece in other circumstances.


To finish, the four of us shared a single bowl of the Bubuh Injin, a thick black rice porridge. While it was comfortingly warm and only gently sweet, we wished for more of the coconut cream to thin it out.

We couldn't even entertain extra warm beverages at this stage, so full were we. (This banquet has previously defeated the largest appetite we know.) This is a huge portion of comforting food in an equally cozy restaurant. Warung Agus is a lovely, gentle family-run business that shows no signs of changing - here's hoping they never do.
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You can read about a previous visit to Warung Agus here. Since then it's received entirely positive reviews, from vegos at words@random, The Good Hearted and veganopoulous, then omnivores at All hail your Huiness and Asian Restaurants in Melbourne.
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Warung Agus
305 Victoria St, West Melbourne
9329 1737
menu: entrees & accompaniments, mains, dessert, drinks
http://www.warungagus.com.au/


Accessibility: There is a small step up into the restaurant and a step down between the two dining rooms. Tables have only low-to-medium amounts of space around them, though a fairly wide path has been made from the front door, right around to the farthest tables. There's full table service. We didn't visit the toilets. The air is very thick with incense so beware if you have a sensitive olfactory system.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Breakfast Thieves

May 17, 2014


We had Saturday morning plans in Fitzroy and spent almost an hour weighing up the pros and cons of various brunching options: Smith & Daughters, Storm in a Teacup and The Vegie Bar all opened too late for our purposes, Hammer & Tong looked a bit *too* fancy for breakfast, Grace and Industry Beans were carefully considered, but in the end we decided we'd better finally go and check out Breakfast Thieves. It's been on our radar at least since Fitzroyalty blogged about it and we've had Hayley repeatedly gush at us about it, but still it took us two years to finally drag ourselves there.


It's a not a big place - ten or so tables inside as well as a few big outdoor benches. The first thing that caught my eye was the wall of cakes and pastries, provided by the increasingly ubiquitous Matt Forbes. The two lamingtons (white chocolate and nutella or dark chocolate and salted caramel) sounded particularly alluring, but we wound up eating ourselves into a stupor on our savouries, so they'll have to wait for another visit.


The menu is pretty short, with a few vego dishes and a bunch of others that can be made meat-free but, as far as we could tell, nothing vegan friendly on offer. You're basically eating something egg-based or muesli (the French toast includes bacon and isn't marked as being available vego). The lack of completely sweet options left Cindy a bit disappointed, but she tried to make do with the breakfast chain, a kind of sampler of brekkie dishes: soft boiled eggs with cheesy toast soldiers, marbled berry yoghurt and a nectarine, apple and blueberry crumble ($18.50).


This is a really cute idea for a breakfast dish, saving you from having to make the agonising choice between sweet and savoury. Cindy decided to prioritise sweet and ate just one of the eggs - they were gooey and soft-boiled (too gooey for Cindy's taste in fact) and there were a generous pile of thickly cheesed soldiers for dunkin'. The yoghurt wasn't particularly memorable - the crumble was easily the star of the show.

I went for a purely savoury dish - The Leprechaun (crisp fried corn fritters, on rosemary roasted carrot puree, avocado-yuzu mousse, pickled cucumber and pomegranate salad plus two poached eggs, $18).


I've had kind of a downer on avocado mousse ever since Cafe Vue served up weird coils of it to us a few years ago and this didn't really win me over to the cause - I just find the texture of it off putting I think. The fritters themselves were good - they reminded me a lot of St Ali's version (both fall short of Lolo & Wren, surely Melbourne's best corn fritters) - and the eggs were well cooked. The pickley salad made the whole dish taste a teeny bit too vinegarry for me, but I'm really just nit-picking. I think my main issue was that this dish kind of tipped me over the fancy breakfast edge. It's time for a return to messy splodges of avo, chunky mushrooms and a pile of beans - I've had my fill of these slightly fussy high end brekkies.

I feel like I'm being a bit unfair to Breakfast Thieves here. They do what they do very well, it just didn't quite match up to what either of us were feeling like. The coffee was excellent, the service friendly and the vibe of the place quite pleasant (although getting busy by 9:30 or so when we left) - it's definitely worth a look if you're an egg fan and you're after something a bit fancy to get the day started.

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There's no shortage of positive blog write-ups about Breakfast Thieves - Food, booze, shoes, Fitzroy Australia Dog Blog, Yellow Eggs, Please sir, can I have some more?, I Spy Plum Pie, Wanderlust Melbourne, Mon's Adventures, Just Keep Eating, The Bake-a-nista, Petit Miamx, GOOD FOOD GOOD MOOD, Brunch Addict, two munch, Occupie Fitzroy, Deconstructing Comestibles, Mr & Ms, where food is, i am, justb, I Heart Good Food, The Chronicles of Ms I-Hua & The Boy, The Hungry Excavator, Windy. Is. Wigun, Samson Girl, Melbourne Delicatesses, my diet "starts" tomorrow, Kish + Co, Eat. Play. Shop., Almost Always Ravenous, Melbourne Din(n)ing Blog, Rumbly in my Tumbly, I'm so hungree, J & J's Food Adventures, chillipadi's kitchen, new international students, Golden Delicious Smile, Let's Get Fat Together, Peach Water, A Miniature Take on Food, melbournetime, Fitzroyalty, Thanks for the smile, TOT: HOT OR NOT, The Blog of Sharlene K, Pixturesque, Gourmet Chick, melbourne's guinea pig, Popcorn & Toast, Gastronomical ramblings, secretemple, Little Miss Peckish, A Food Trail, eggswithsides, Peanut Butter Jelly, Food, Fitness & Foucault, PAINTING RACHEL RED and Melbourne Food Blogger all give it the thumbs up, while Couchfoodies, Peekashu and Breakfast of Champions were a bit less enthusiastic.
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Breakfast Thieves
420 Gore Street, Fitzroy
9416 4884 
menu: 1, 2, 3
http://www.breakfastthieves.com.au/

Accessibility: Breakfast Thieves has a flat entryway and a reasonably spacious interior. You order at the table and pay at a low counter. The toilet is fully accessible (although the seat is a bit rickety).  

Monday, May 26, 2014

The Beaufort II

May 16, 2014


We've enjoyed the Beaufort's succession of burger-like veg meals over the past year-and-a-bit, especially the scorching Philly Cheese Fake and gone-too-soon battered tofu. Michael caught wind of their new kitchen venture and we made sure to give it a shot within the week. While the pub is still full of salty hipster bluebeard-alikes, the pool room's had a rack shack renovation.


This means ribs. Pork ribs, beef ribs, lamb ribs and... no kidding, vegan ribs! A half rack will set you back $15, but Michael insisted we share the full rack ($28) for full review. As you can see, it's quite the spectacle, and it's not even seitan. It's made of quinoa and corn, though it's no hippy-dippy patty. A thick crust and smoky paprika basting really bring the barbecue, and the rib 'bones' are softer-hearted vegan cheese sticks.

The ribs come accompanied by a pleasant medley of pickled vegetables and slabs of crumbling warm jalapeno cornbread.


Our side salad managed to hold its own against this showstopper - a creamy, nubby, lightly pomegranate-dressed bowl of lentils, avocado and pecans ($9). I could take or leave the slug of truffle oil.


This rack o' ribs is a novel and tasty contribution to Melbourne's mock meat market, and goes a little way to filling the Gasometer-shaped hole in our hearts and stomachs.
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You can read about our first visit to the Beaufort here.
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The Beaufort
421 Rathdowne St, Carlton
9347 8171

Accessibility: The Beaufort has a single step on entry and notably spacious table arrangement - mostly at standard height and with few tables at tall bar height. The rack shack is a little more crowded and includes an additional step up. The lighting's dim and the music is loud. Ordering and payment happens at a high bar, though food is brought to the table. We didn't visit the toilets.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Aunt Maggie's

May 15, 2014


I discovered Aunt Maggie's last year when they opened a branch near my workplace. The wide range of veg-friendly goodies, organic fruit and veggies and friendly staff put it into my regular grocery shopping rotation. So I was super excited when Cindy spotted some Aunt Maggie's signage on an old Crazy John's right around the corner from our house.


They got the renovations done in almost no time and the store opened last week. I sneaked in before the big opening day extravaganza and poked around while things were still quiet.


First things first: it's massive. Bigger than the Fitzroy store I'd say and with a beautiful light-filled vibe. Things are quite spacious - even on the Saturday with the crowds there was plenty of room to poke through the shelves and suss out all the products they offer. There's a great selection of fresh produce, heaps of vegan-friendly stuff (Vegusto, cashew yoghurt, coconut icecream, tofu, tempeh, soy condensed milk, etc.), organic toiletries and cleaning products (including this household's new brand of toilet paper) and on and on. 


So far, it's literally been a one-stop shop for us (as opposed to the usual trip via the fruit shop, the IGA and Coles). It's not doing wonders for our shopping bills - buying organic or ethical products is always going to cost more than supermarket stuff - but it combines ready availability of some otherwise difficult-to-find items with the feeling that we're supporting some worthwhile products and companies. It's our go-to grocery store at the moment (although they don't seem to have the cheap lunchtime soup bar that the Fitzroy store offers).

24/5/2014: Correction - they do indeed offer soup at the Brunswick store, it's $6 for small and $8 for large. The spinach and lentil soup I had today was excellent.


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Aunt Maggie's
74-78 Sydney Rd, Brunswick
8388 7358
www.auntmaggies.com.au
(and their slightly more informative facebook page)

Accessibility: There's a wide, flat entry and a reasonable amount of space throughout. The checkouts are at a reasonably low level.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Lord Newry Hotel

May 14, 2014


The Lord Newry Hotel was our most recent pub club destination, one of many unassuming 'locals' nestled in Fitzroy North. It's warmly lit and heated, with a menu of classics like parmas, steaks, fish and chips, with a few burgers and a couple of pizzas on rotation. Gluten-free options look rare, but the staff can point out some adaptations. Vegetarian dishes are more abundant - there's an eggplant parma, pizza special, lentil shepherd's pie and a vegan burger.


Michael had a go at that vegan burger ($18), which features a pumpkin, walnut and rosemary pattie. It was huge, made an unholy mess and tasted good enough. The chips provided solid back-up.


The vegetarian pizza on offer had a thin crunchy base, topped with grilled zucchini ellipses, ricotta and (apparently) mint ($14). It didn't have quite the light, summery vibe I'd visualised but it was a comforting meal nonetheless.


The food at the Lord Newry is pleasant and reliable if not rave-worthy - this is the third time we've visited and the first time I've been motivated to blog about it. I like that it's a very comfortable, unpretentious spot for locals with friendly and knowledgeable staff. It'll remain on the pub club rotation for some time to come.

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The bloggers of walk, talk, fork also had a nice night at the Newry a couple of years ago.
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Lord Newry Hotel
542 Brunswick St, Fitzroy North
9481 3931
menu: front page, mains, specials
http://www.lordnewryhotel.com.au/

Accessibility: There are two steps up on entry and a reasonably spacious but dimly lit interior. We ordered and paid at a high bar, and had food delivered to our table. We didn't visit the toilets.

Monday, May 19, 2014

True North

May 10, 2014


Cindy and I finally got our act together and visited The Heide Museum on the weekend, something I'd failed to do in over seven years of living in Melbourne. One of the reasons we hadn't made the trip before was transport, so when we realised that the best bus there passed by Sydney Rd in Coburg we decided to make a day of it. Stop one: breakfast at Coburg's newest (and probably hippest) cafe - True North.


It was bustling when we arrived around midday, and we waited a minute or two for a table to clear before nabbing a spot in the back corner. The signs were promising when the first question we were asked was whether either of us were vego or vegan. It turns out that True North have made a real effort to cater for vegos - they've got vegan bacon, chorizo and chicken to sub into many of their dishes and have just started stocking vegan cheese as well. A lot of the savoury menu is egg based, so vegans will have to do a bit of substituting, but the staff were helpful and knowledgeable, so I'm sure there'd be plenty of options. We noticed muffins from Crumbs at the counter as well, which is a promising sign.

The cafe in general has a bit of a Mexican vibe - there's huevos rancheros on the main menu and the three specials were all heavy on the chorizo/chipotle flavour combinations. There's the usual array of beverage options alongside one unique choice - house made kaffir lime lemonade ($4.50). Cindy couldn't resist.


It was a brilliant choice - tangy and sharp with just enough sweetness to balance out the citrus. A high class lemonade.

Cindy's heart had been broken by the unavailability of the waffles (with candied banana, maple butter, toasted pecans and bacon, $15.50), but she recovered enough to order the True North breakfast roll (a fried egg, mock bacon, bubble 'n' squeak served with house made relish on a toasted white roll, $13).


It was a very mushy roll - runny egg yolk, free form bubble and squeak and loads of relish. Not pretty, but pretty damn delicious - the mock bacon (this brand we think) was good stuff too.

I opted for the baked eggs with chorizo ($15) and had my pick of about fifteen different types of hot sauce to accompany things.


This was a very satisfying dish - the eggs baked through but with a hint of runniness in the yolk and the Cheatin' brand chorizo chunks adding surprisingly good bursts of smoky mock-meat.

I was super impressed by True North - our food was great, the provision of mock meat alternatives always makes me happy, but more than just that we found the staff lovely and friendly (even while under some pretty serious weekend-rush pressure) and the vibe of the place cool without being painful. Coffees are good, prices are reasonable and the whole experience is one I'd happily repeat again soon - score one for Coburg!
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So far only Green Gourmet Giraffe has blogged about True North - she seems to be quite a fan.
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True North
2A Munro Street, Coburg
9917 2262
menu: 1, 2
Facebook page


Accessibility: There's a small step on entry and a pretty crowded interior (especially on the weekends when the stools at the bar are in use). You order at the table and pay at a medium height counter. The toilets are out the back via what looked like a carpark - we didn't visit, but they'd require negotiating a step or two at least.

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Gasometer Hotel

May 9, 2014


The previous incarnation of The Gasometer, which we loved enough to blog ten times, closed unceremoniously late last year. It reopened last week under new management, boasting some minor renovations, a new menu and a couple of bands that piqued our interest.

The front bar hasn't changed much at all, until you take a close look at that menu. It's got vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free labelling that starts strong in the starters and mains but peters out confusingly as the list moves on to sides, desserts and kids' options. There's none of the mock meat Americana we knew and loved, with vegans apparently restricted to the mushroom and walnut tacos (and presumably the green salad and chips). There are a number of other vegetarian items, including potato and leek pierogi ($12/22), eggplant croquettes ($12), a lentil burger ($18), and lentils with roti ($18).


Michael had a shot at the Double Sandwich ($17), a tiny and inexplicably named brioche bun stuffed with a nice chickpea curry and yoghurt sauce. (P.S. the name has been made explicable by Hannah in the comments.) The portion of crunchy crinkle-cut fries was more generous.


Meanwhile I tested out the cauliflower hotdog ($14): another brioche bun, this time stacked with caramelised onion, cauliflower in a creamy sauce, cheese, hot sauce and parsley. It was an excellent combination of flavours, but didn't evoke a hotdog at all.


Finally, Michael and I shared a pair of the vegan mushroom and walnut tacos ($12). These ingredients had the potential to form a satisfyingly savoury mince-like texture but were taken to almost the puree stage, to my mild disappointment. The tacos were under-seasoned too: a little more salt and lime juice would have really livened these up.

So it seems that the Gasometer is no longer the punky, vegan haven of yore. As a vegetarian I'd try more of the menu, but it'll take another really good dish or two for this venue to climb its way back into our favourite pub shortlist. Scheduling a few more gigs like this one wouldn't hurt their cause either.

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The Gasometer Hotel
484 Smith St, Collingwood
9417 2725
menu
facebook page

Accessibility: The Gasometer has a small step on entry. The tables are crowded in some areas but the booths and tables closest to the entry are relatively spacious. Ordering and payment occurs at a high counter. Male and female toilets are on the same level as everything else but are not particularly spacious.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Braised celery & potatoes

May 7, 2014


We've recently resumed a fortnightly veggie box (this time from CERES) and have been enjoying the prompt to eat more seasonally. Unfortunately, seasonality at this time of year means celery, and lots of it. We've gone through a few old staples, but were starting to run out of ideas. Luckily, Cindy had stored this recipe away for just this situation.

Jackie raved so much about it as a way to use up celery that we had high hopes. Throw in our favourite staple (spuds!) and a simple recipe and this was a perfect school-night dish. It takes a little while to make but it's all just chopping and simmering so you've got plenty of time to work on an accompaniment (we made a serve of the tofu from this recipe).

The result? A success - the braised celery is soft with a hint of sweetness, a slight creaminess from the potato and some bite from the lemon juice. We've still got half a bunch of celery to get through - this may even get another run out this week.


Braised celery and potatoes
(based on this recipe from Gretel was getting fatter)

1/4 cup olive oil
4 large potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1 inch cubes
half a bunch of celery (about 5 big ribs), chopped into big chunks (about an inch long)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup white wine
1 cup vege stock
juice of a lemon
handful of chopped parsley
salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a big pot and throw in the celery. Cook, stirring regularly, for about 10 minutes.

Throw in the potatoes with a generous shake of salt and stir everything together. Cook for another 5-10 minutes until the veggies start to soften slightly. 

Add the garlic and the wine, stirring everything together and making sure nothing gets too stuck to the bottom. Let the wine reduce a bit and then throw in the stock. Simmer until the liquid has reduced away to almost nothing and the potatoes are cooked through. 

Kill the heat and stir through the lemon juice, parsley and salt and pepper.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Salero Kito Padang Restaurant

May 6, 2014


After our visit to Warra Warra last month, Claire alerted us to the existence of Salero Kito Padang next door. It promises Melbourne's only West Sumatran cuisine, with a range of cheap and seemingly authentic dishes. The setting is pretty basic - bare wood tables, bright lights and a food-courty vibe. Food-wise it's all bain marie dishes (aside from a few specials) and the veggie options are pretty limited. We basically sampled them all. All of the veggie dishes except for the egg seemed vegan and the curries looked gluten-free, but there was no labelling.


From the bain marie the deal is three dishes and rice for $12 or two and rice for $11. We went all in and filled up our plates.


Cindy kicked off with a spicy egg, a corn fritters and the silverbeet curry on rice. The spicy egg was really spicy, a hard boiled and battered egg with a spoon of explosive chilli sauce. The silverbeet curry packed a decent kick as well, and the coconutty sauce soaked its way through the rice pretty effectively. The corn fritter was the star of the show - a salty, savoury delight of crisply fried corn and veggie chunks.


I had the silverbeet curry as well, alongside the jackfruit curry and some fried soybean. The fried soybean is basically deep-fried tempeh, which is about as delicious as it sounds. It would have been great to have some chilli sauce to smear on top, but there wasn't any on the table and I was too lazy to ask. The jackfruit curry was interesting - a long way from our experiments with jackfruit - it was mildly spicy and soft, without a huge amount of its own flavour.

We couldn't resist ordering some of the more intriguing drinks from the fridge - these were super sweet but had a decent burst of floral tea flavour under all the sugar.


I'm glad we tried Salero Kito Padang, but it's not really a place aimed at vegetarians - the meat-eaters have a lot more to choose from. Still, it's cheap and offers something a bit different to the usual - it's a rare restaurant that offers deep-fried tempeh.
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There a handful of positive reviews out there about Salero Kito Padang's sister establishment in Malvern - see Tea and Cupcake, In Melbourne and Udang Kering.
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Salero Kito Padang Restaurant
18/235 Bourke St, Melbourne (in the Tivoli Arcade)
9639 7268
menu
http://www.salerokito.com.au/

Accessibility: There's a smooth entryway and a reasonably spacious interior. Ordering and payment happens at a low-ish counter. We didn't visit the toilets, they're presumably located somewhere in the arcade.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Brunswick Foodstore

May 4, 2014


When we can resist the siren-song of Wide Open Road, Cindy and I are gradually working our way through the cafes of our new(ish) neighbourhood. On the weekend we finally hit up the Brunswick Foodstore, which used to be Toby’s Estate but seems to have changed hands and modus operandi a couple of years ago. They still use TE coffee beans, but otherwise it seems to be a quite separate entity.


It’s a big, spacious room, with some neat engineering diagrams covering a few surfaces, high ceilings and light streaming in through the front windows. The menu takes a Middle Eastern approach to breakfast – there’s a manoushe on the menu, eggs come with babaganoush or zaatar and muesli with orange blossom. There a handful of vegetarian dishes, but vegans are seemingly limited to the foul mudammas ($13.50), about which more in a minute.


The two coffees I had were both excellent, strong but not bitter. Early on a Sunday morning there was a pretty high ratio of staff to customers, so we were well looked after – food and coffee were speedy and the service was friendly.

Cindy’s love affair with rosewater is strong, so I wasn’t surprised when she ordered the buttermilk pancakes with pistachio, rosewater, raspberries, vanilla icecream and rosewater syrup ($15.50).


Cindy was broadly positive about the pancakes themselves, but wasn't thrilled about icecream for brekkie or the tiny portion of fruit. It was the rosewater in the syrup that kept her interested the whole way through.

I wavered over the poached eggs with babaganoush for a while, but eventually settled on the foul mudammas (boiled broad beans seasoned with garlic, lemon, olive oil and served with warm pita bread, $13.50).


This turned out to be the perfect meal for me, putting back some of the energy that Friday and Saturday's ridiculous Trailwalker exertions had taken out of me. The seasonings were generous with slatherings of olive oil and punchy garlic flavour bursting through. I scooped up most of it with the fresh and warm pita bread and then scarfed the rest down with a spoon - it's deceptively filling. Value-for-money wise it can't beat the foul medames at Half Moon Cafe, but it's one of the more affordable Brunswick brekkies around.

Brunswick Foodstore is a solid option in the neighbourhood, although I'm not quite sure what it's niche is - Green Refectory has the cheap brekkie down pat, while Code Black and Wide Open Road have fancier vegan-friendly menus. If you're after a heaping bowl of tasty beans though, then this is the place to be.
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There are a handful of mostly positive reviews of the Brunswick Foodstore out there - see Hannah MacDougall, Chomp and Slurp, Yosie's Journey of Food, Night Owl, melbourne's guinea pig, Good 44, dining nirvana and heart named desire, while At Your Cafe was much less impressed.
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The Brunswick Foodstore
29 Weston St, Brunswick
9388 8738
menu: breakfast, lunch

Accessibility: There's a small step on entry into a flat and spacious interior. The toilets are through a big sliding door and up a half step, with large cubicles. We ordered at the table and paid at a low counter.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Banh mi

May 1, 2014


On Thursday morning I had a dinner plan and a shopping list to match. But at lunch time someone was talking up a new banh mi on the menu at the Vegie Bar, and I was reminded of the pork roll I'd enjoyed at Buddha's Day the previous weekend. Suddenly I really, really wanted banh mi for dinner.

There've been a few veg-friendly recipes for it in my feedly lately, and I picked out Vegan Dad's version. I cut a few corners, letting the tofu marinate and carrots pickle for just two hours rather than overnight. With lots of purple carrots (and no daikon) in the vege box, my pickle was a lot pinker, but it had the same sweetness. The star anise infusion added a surprising and very welcome depth.

These rolls were a delightful dinner. The warm tofu was enough to provide a bit of comfort on a cold night, even in amongst all that watery salad (I'd snuck some extra leftover lettuce and grated beetroot on the unphotographed rolls). The meal finished with a debate about whether it would be more fun to eat seconds right then, or save the remainder for lunch the next day. We all felt mighty smug when noon rolled around on Friday.



Tofu banh mi
(adapted slightly from Vegan Dad)

marinated tofu
500g firm tofu
1/4 cup light soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil
juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon Sriracha
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced

carrot pickle
2/3 cup white vinegar
2/3 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
2 medium carrots, shredded with a vege peeler
1 whole star anise

6 long rolls
vegan mayonnaise
1 cucumber, shredded with a vege peeler
fresh coriander, roughly chopped
fresh red chilli, sliced

Slice the tofu into rectangles, no more than 1cm thick (I made about 9 slices). Place all of the remaining marinade ingredients in a large baking dish and whisk them together with a fork. Lay the tofu rectangles in the marinade, allowing them to soak it up for at least 30 minutes on each side.

Place the vinegar, water and sugar in a small-medium saucepan and bring them to the boil. Stir in the ginger. Gently add in the carrot, get it submerged and bring it all to the boil again. Take the pickle off the heat and add the star anise. Allow it to cool and infuse for at least an hour.

Preheat an oven to 200°C. Bake the tofu in the baking dish for 20-25 minutes, flipping it over at the 10 minute mark. When it's done, it should have soaked up all the marinade. Slice the tofu pieces diagonally into triangles.

Slice the rolls longways and spread one side with mayonnaise. Arrange tofu triangles over the mayonnaise, then layer up some drained carrot, cucumber, coriander and chilli, to taste. Close the sandwich and nom. Make the other five if you have to, or let your co-diners fend for themselves.