We took a long overdue trip to Brisbane this summer, to visit family. Mostly we took it easy - jigsaws, beach walks, reading novels, chatting over cool drinks and cheese plates. I ate avocados and mangoes at every opportunity. Amid all that we visited just a couple of veg*n cafes that have sprouted up recently.
Vegan 'superfood bar' Charlie's Raw Squeeze has nine outlets around town, with more in the works. One is on the Redcliffe peninsula, where I grew up - this area has certainly evolved from those days of Sizzler and KFC. Charlie's Clontarf is staffed by numerous fresh-faced young women, who whip up juices, smoothies, acai bowls and banana-based 'loaded nice creams'.
Mum & I stopped in for a browse right from the airport. We took away a taco bowl (~$12, not pictured) to share for lunch - we were impressed by the walnut mince and the bean salad, and glad for the fresh veges on a hot day. We browsed the Vegan Pantry, where I spotted all sorts of non-perishable goodies I've come to love in Melbourne - mock meats and dairy, icecreams and chocolates, lip balm, nooch, and on and on.
A couple of days later I took home a couple of raw cakes that Mum was curious about, a Tim Tam raw 'doughnut', and a black forest slice ($6-8). While there was nothing doughnutty going on here at all, these were pretty and tasty. They had a smooth richness that must've come from cocoa butter or coconut oil. (And I think the half-Tim Tam was a non-raw Leda Choculence.)
An old high school friend and I laughed at the incongruity of meeting up there for breakfast. Instead of the popcorn and Burger Rings we once shared, we picked out acai bowls. I was delighted by my small bubblegum bowl ($12) with its frosty base of blended acai, dragonfruit and coconut water and cheery fan of apple and banana slices, chopped mango, coconut chips and cocoa nibs.
I don't whole-heartedly endorse Charlie's superfood ethos, but their fresh foods were great summer holiday treats. I hope they'll see great success in my hometown.
Next door to Charlie's Everton Park is Veganyumm, a bakehouse with all the white sugar, flour and non-raw foods that Charlie's avoids. I persuaded my Mum that we should lunch there after picking Michael up from the airport.
Though most of Veganyumm's customers seem to pick up their choice of desserts and leave, there are a few tables available for sitting in. We made good use of them, enjoying the shade, the people-watching, and the time to gaze across the sweets and consider the best combination for dessert.
For those of us taking a seat, there are a wide range of beverages to sip. The usual coffee menu extends to red velvet and turmeric ginger lattes; tea comes in a variety of colours, hot and iced; and then there are milkshakes, frappes, and fruit whips. I loved their gently sweet and very icy chai frappe, while Michael and Mum had berry iced teas.
Savoury options are limited but hearty. Their pumpkin pies were huge, flat rectangles formed from puff pastry sheets, stuffed not just with pumpkin but with tofu and mixed vegetables. A vegemite scroll was served warm and fluffy - I've never been a big cheesymite fan but this rendition won me over.
Sated for the time being, we negotiated sweets to take home and agreed to a wedge of chewy pecan pie, silky peanut butter chocolate tart, and a melting moment. The latter was our unexpected favourite, with its gorgeously tangy passionfruit icing. All these desserts are great ambassadors for the joys of vegan eating, and happily they seemed to have a bit of a following in suburban Brisbane.
For one day Michael and I roamed the city centre, meeting up with friends, bumping into others, and checking in on GOMA's anniversary exhibition. Tucked into a shopping centre food court, vegetarian-Indian stall Vegeto was a neat spot to grab a quick meal. Their dosa ($8.80) weren't extravagant but they really hit the spot; I paired mine with a ready-made mango lassi.
Sharp eyes would've seen a tell-tale bag in that dosa pic - yep, we stopped by the Noosa Chocolate Factory outlet for their signature vegan rocky road. We did our best to pack it coolly and safely to share with friends back in Melbourne but as the chip packets say, some settling of contents may have occurred during transit. This chocolatier was absolute chaos in the lead-up to Christmas, so we took a raincheck on the vegan-friendly hot and iced coffees and chocolates we noticed on their menu.
Fancy dining was never a goal for our Brisbane visit, but we had fun at these few newer spots we checked in on.