Monday, January 15, 2007

January 14, 2007: Trotters

After a month of cruising Victoria and spending time with her sisters, my Mum returned to Melbourne and came by for lunch with next-youngest sibling Carol in tow. On their previous visit, Michael took charge of dinner and then we ate out for dessert: thus, I thought I'd turn the tables this time by going out for lunch and preparing a dessert to enjoy later at home. Once out on Lygon St, Mum swiftly picked out Trotters restaurant based on a glance at the menu. It was looking pretty crowded but a waitress said she'd open up the second level, where we'd have plenty of room and a specials board all to ourselves.

The dish at the top of this post is mum's "mushroom filled arancino crumbed & served on tomato with rocket & parmesan" ($13.50). This is like an enormous risotto ball, with a centre of mushrooms:

It was rich, a bit heavy, and very, very tasty. Carol ordered "soft polenta with mushrooms and pecorino cheese" ($14) from the specials board.

I didn't taste it, but Carol thought this was great and happily polished off the entire plate. This is high praise, given Carol's aversion to large helpings of anything: she's more of a grazer, as Mum noted that day.

Michael's "spinach & ricotta filled agnolotti arrabbiata (spicy tomato sauce)" ($14.20) was the least exciting meal in the looks department but, according to him, it easily made up for it with a full flavour.

While Mum and Carol were starving, I was still feeling the effects of a heavy but tasty meal the night before. Thus I took a chance on one of the smaller options, the bruschetta ($5):

This camera angle doesn't emphasise the generous portion I received: three sizable pieces of sourdough toast, topped with up to two tomatoes, diced. I often find sourdough a bit tough, but the bit of butter melted evenly into these slices ensured that wasn't the case. The parsley, garlic and teensy bit of cheese worked in subtle harmony, not overpowering the tomato at all. The tomatoes weren't of the finest quality, but I've struggled to find any better than this for years. If anyone out there can recommend an outlet of red, flavoursome tomatoes in Melbourne, please, PLEASE leave me a comment!


The four of us entered Trotters with different appetites and all walked out thoroughly satisfied and not too out of pocket (especially me, 'cause Michael paid for my meal). Although its offerings are omnivorous, our four meat-free dishes show just how spoilt for choice a vegetarian can be, with several of the specials also being meat-free. Highly recommended for a casual cafe-style meal.

Address: 400 Lygon St, Carlton
Ph: 9347 5657
Fully licensed
Price: veg mains ~$5-15


  1. It's true! Tomatoes suck.

    Apparently its because they harvest them when they are green and then let them ripen off the vine. Apparently this method makes them last long longer, so its better to store. But it means the flavour has been sucked out of them.

    The thing is, tomatoes are actually seasonal. We just have come to expect them all year long (how can you have a sandwitch without?). Fortunately, however, the season is summer, so you should be able to find some proper, recently ripened ones about at the moment.

    The best bet is going to the Queen Vic market. If you really want a good tomato, there is a place just next to the fish markets, outside the deli that think they do great tomatoes (No you can't pick them yourself!). And i'm sure if you had a look in the organics section, you could get some for some crazy 2 digit price (don't know if that means its good). But anything you get from Safeway is crap.

    I'm growing my own at the moment. They're big green things at the moment, just growing in pots, but they smell lovely and are being quite prolific, like good little tomatoes should. You touch the vine and you hands smell all tomatoey for minutes. Hopefully they'll be ripe in a month!

  2. Yup - I'd recommend Vic Market as well. On the fourth veg aisle from Therry St, there is actually a specialist tomato purveyor. It is about midway up the aisle, on the side closest to the meat section. They have a big sign up proclaiming their tomatoeyness.

    I was there last weekend, and they had some gorgeous Adelaides, juicy beefhearts, and some other ones (which I can't remember the name of!). And because they're in season right now, they're quite cheap!

  3. Ah huh! I will get myself to the Queen Vic Markets on Saturday morning and sample tomatoes at their local best. If I know what's good for me, Mellie, I'll scrawl down your directions before departing. ;-)

    Your home-grown tomatoes sound heavenly, Will! I hope they're worth the wait. :-) I absolutely agree that tomatoes are a sandwich necessity (though Michael wouldn't). I'll try to make the most of them while they're in season!