November 22, 2016
Hotel Lincoln (now called The Lincoln) has had several changes in management in the decade we've known it. This has meant a few makeovers in look and menu, although I think the atmosphere has been pretty consistent. The front bar has the typical Melbourne pub feel, while the dining room out back is much fancier. There have never been more than a couple of vegetarian options available, although we've enjoyed the ones we've had. When we visited as part of a large group recently, we were happy to order their set menu (The Half Lincoln, $45 per person) and let them show us how broad their vegetarian options really were.
The appetisers were light and fun - individual crackers piled with pink pickles, and kelp-salted edamame that kept our hands busy as we chatted.
One of the meal's high points was the shared entree of roasted cauliflower with a medley of buckwheat, pomegranate seeds, currants and mint. The puffed-up crunch of the buckwheat was unexpected and welcome, a switch-around on the Ottolenghi-style grain salads we seek and eat so often.
(Clockwise from top-left:) Asparagus with fried egg mayo and toasted crumbs was a winning side, the triple-cooked cooked could never have gone wrong, and a plate of cos hearts with fresh curd and shallots kept up the right ratio of green. I was skeptical of their teaming lentils with seaweed in the mushroom dish: the result was better than I expected, but not one of the night's favourites.
Dessert was another memorable point: Michael and I shared a feather-light beetroot and chocolate pudding. While it wasn't strongly flavoured, it was served in a pool of perrrrrfect anglaise.
The Lincoln's daily menu didn't much excite us vegos, but they're professionals who delivered a great experience. Staff were enormously accommodating of our group's various dietary requirements and various choices to eat communally via the Half Lincoln and individually a la carte. The lentil-mushroom dish is the one official vegetarian main currently on menu, but through the Half Lincoln we learned that some of the sides are even better. With cheese and eggs liberally served throughout our meal, it remains to be seen how well they'd cater to vegans.
Staff didn't hinder us from chatting and chair-swapping into the night, even as the rest of the pub emptied out, and were easy-going as we split the last of the bill. I daresay they helped Melbourne make a great impression on our globe-trotting guests of honour, who are usually found fine-dining their way through DC.
You can also read about one, two of our previous visits to Hotel Lincoln. Fellow veg blogger Nouveau Potato was less impressed.
Hotel Lincoln's several iterations are universally beloved by omnivorous bloggers, see The Bakeanista, half-eaten, Dining Nirvana, foodie about town, I'm So Hungree, Simple Palates, Seriously, Spoonfuls of Wanderlust, MEL: HOT OR NOT, Champagne & Chips (freebie), Sharking for Chips & Drinks (freebie), Melbourne Din(n)ing Blog (freebie) and Gastronomical Ramblings.
91 Cardigan St, Carlton
Accessibility: Entry is flat. Indoors is quite crowded with high and low tables with stools and backed seats, respectively. We ordered at our table and paid while standing by the bar (but not across it). We didn't visit the toilets.