August 13, 2016
Part of the reason we decided to do our Cheap Eats 2006 project was to catch up on some glaring omissions in our near-decade of blogging. Cindy covered off Fo Guang Yuan in April, and this weekend we made our first ever visit to Collingwood vego stalwart Friends of the Earth.
We haven't actively been avoiding it, but the fact that it's taken us so long to visit is probably at least partly due to a suspicion that FOE would serve up worthy but bland vego food. Luckily, that impression was completely wrong - the cafe has a lot more to offer than just lentil stews: there are doughnuts and other sweets, lunch rolls, pizzas and more, along with a seasonal mixed plate. Everything is vegan by default (although there's dairy milk and butter on hand), and they're good at gluten-free options as well. There's a handy selection of veg-friendly groceries, including organic fruit and veggies.
I really wanted to try the baked tofu roll with cashew cheese, slaw, spinach and sesame mayo ($9), but I was hungry enough to tackle the large seasonal plate ($12.50). This is a classic vego buffet plate: rice, salad, a delicious tofu curry - hearty, tasty and healthy. It's a good option.
Cindy wasn't hungry enough to tackle a real lunch, so she ordered a lemon currant scone ($4) and a cup of dandelion tea ($4.50 + $1 for almond milk). The scone was a departure from the classic Australian version, with its triangular shape and dusting of sugar, but Cindy was impressed by it nonetheless.
There are plenty of lovely-looking vegan sweets to choose from - at least partly provided by Crumbs.
Steph convinced me that I had to try FOE's newest special - a vegan croissant filled with smoked tofu and cashew cheese ($6). I took one home and had a wonderful breakfast the next morning - it's worth a visit to FOE on its own.
We can now personally recommend Friends of the Earth - it's doing much more than the daggy 1980s vego food we were half-expecting, and we really shouldn't have taken a decade to visit. It'll be much less time before we go back.
Friends of the Earth has received pretty limited blog coverage over the years - there are positive write-ups at The Wholefood Mama, Vegan About Town, Veganopoulous, New International Students and MEL: HOT OR NOT.
Friends of the Earth
312 Smith St, Collingwood
Accessibility: FOE has put some thought in - there's a shallow ramp on entry, non-gendered individual but standard-width toilet cubicles on the same level (the wooden floor is a teensy bit uneven) and a low counter for service.