Thursday, March 26, 2015

Maha II

March 6, 2015

We first visited Maha a few years ago and had a good, but not amazing meal. Since then, seemingly every vegan we know has raved non-stop about how well they're catered for at Maha. So when friends organised a big group vegan feast there we joined in to see if it measured up. Everything was pre-arranged - we booked in for a five-course vegan degustation ($95 a head) and turned up with nothing to decide except what to drink. I sampled various wines ordered by more focussed dining companions, while Cindy dived into the cocktails with a very satisfactory Amman Sash (Ketel One Citron, cointreau, vanilla syrup, Kinnie and a red liquorice garnish). Also pictured below are our first couple of shared plates - some lightly spiced chickpea chips and a plate of young carrots simply dressed with oil and lemon.

After the table demolished the shared dishes, we moved onto a few individual plates - firstly the excellently crunchy zucchini felafel with pumpkin puree, tomatoes and a crisp of za'atar and sesame bread.

Everything kicked up a notch with the next dish: Char-grilled baby corn with enoki mushrooms, hazelnuts and a cauliflower and saffron purée. This dish got overlooked when we reflected on our favourite dishes at the end of the night, but it was exceptional - a brilliant combination of flavours and textures.

Then came probably the most well-received dish of the evening: a truffled fava puree topped with asparagus, walnut crumbs and chilli oil. Everything about this was perfect - the rich truffley puree, lightly roasted asparagus and lots of crunchy goodness from the walnuts. The chilli oil was mild but cut through the richness. This was sublime.

While everyone recovered from those two wonderful dishes, another round of share plates came out: a sumac fattoush that fell just the right side of being too salty, a brown rice pilaf with pumpkin seeds, a combination of ras-el-hanout spiced pumpkin, almonds, mint and radish that I loved and my favourite dish of the night: red lentil manti with aleppo pepper dressing and carrot puree.

We were all a bit blown away by the savoury dishes, so were happy to have a brief pause before the dessert came out. We also got to have a quick chat with Shane Delia, Maha's head chef, who seemed super enthused about putting together vegan menus (I guess he wasn't going to be too negative with a table of 16 wildly enthused veg*ns in staring adoringly up at him).

The dessert course was a vanilla vegan sponge with rose water and watermelon ice, pineapple gel, micro basil and coconut sorbet. This was sharp and refreshing, but not quite the indulgent finish we felt our incredible meal deserved.

So we ordered a bonus round of Turkish delight doughnuts (5 for $15), which were deliciously puffy little balls of fried sweetness.

Maha really exceeded our expectations on this visit - the five course meal gets you something like 10 different dishes, all of which were great and a handful of which were truly incredible. The service was superb, the booze flowed liberally and the atmosphere was buzzing without being deafening.

We staggered out happy after a night of wonderful company and superb food. Maha really deliver for vegans - it's a fine dining place where the vegan dishes feel like they've been given as much thought as the non-vegan options. Add it to your list!


Read about our first visit to Maha here. Quinces and Kale has already blogged this dinner plus an earlier visit to Maha. Carla at easy as vegan pie wasn't quite as enthusiastic with her vegan experience a few years back.


21 Bond St, Melbourne
9629 5900

Accessibility: Maha has reasonably spaced tables, is a little dim and loud, and has full table service. The toilets are highly accessible and there's a lift next to the staircase entry to the building.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

where's the best beyond 2000?

A special milestone is a good time for blog updates, and we've just performed our annual audit of our where's the best? page. It's been a good year for breakfasts, with Admiral Cheng-Ho, El Chino, True North and Twenty & Six Espresso earning adds to our list. Pub-wise, meat mockers The Cornish Arms were long overdue for inclusion, while The Sporting Club Hotel has been rebranded as the Charles Weston Hotel.

There's been more cheap mock at Loving Hut Northcote, Springvale's Nha Hang 5 Sao and Trang Bakery, where Michael has embarked on a banh mi bonanza. In the city, Supercharger has been offering a much fresher, wholefoods alternative.

The spectacular new veg*n opening of the past year, though, has undoubtedly been Smith & Daughters. It's about bloody time Melbourne got a cool vegan bar, and this one offers a lot more besides - irresistible fried snacks, 'eggy' brunches and luscious desserts. They might even have a new entry for our next best-of in 2016.

There've been surprisingly few closures to report, with the dessert category hardest hit - Berrissimo is no more, and Coco Loco has become Papasito, although I hear they're still serving the same wonderful chocolate mousse.

On the home front, we've accrued a number of new favourite recipes. We've been getting good value from Isa Does It (with repeat use of the sweet potato & red curry soup, the curried peanut sauce bowl with tofu & kale and the lemon & blueberry loaf), Veganissimo! (especially the potato waffles and the ginger cheesecake slice) and Vegan Soul Kitchen (including the cumin-cayenne mashed potatoes with caramelised onions). We've been predictably admiring of Ottolenghi's Plenty More and have been goaded on by a cookbook club with friends - I've been most charmed by the apricot, walnut & lavender cake (and, admittedly, the circumstances under which it was made) and proud of my turn at the chocolate halva sundae.

We've had new successes from older cookbooks, including kale and coconut salad, kung pao seitan with asparagus and alfajores. The internet has tossed up gems like cocoa granola and banh mi. And finally, I celebrated my end-of-2014 birthday by veganising and deglutenifying an icecream cake from my childhood. New restaurant openings and shiny books are fun, but I'm still finding that there's just as much inspiration to be taken from older sources.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Smothered seitan chops

March 1, 2015

Once back home from Sydney I was eager to have some fun in the kitchen. I pulled out Vegan Soul Kitchen and committed to some serious cooking, preparing my own seitan in the slow cooker throughout the afternoon, then trying two new Soul Kitchen  recipes for dinner.

I was a little surprised that Bryant Terry didn't include a seitan recipe in his book, but there are plenty of others around. I had a go at the moo-free seitan in Vegan Sandwiches Save The Day and it proved very successful. Once the seitan slices were dredged in arrowroot and shallow-fried by Terry's method I got pretty excited. "I think I've made chops!" I told Michael. We tested a small piece; it was very juicy inside and crisp on the outer.

The other handy thing about making my own seitan was all the gluteny stock I ended up with. Much of it was used for the mushroom gravy that these 'chops' were simmered in. Terry has an elaborate recipe for making mushroom gravy from scratch, but I reckon any vegetable stock would be A-OK.

Smothered in mushroom gravy and some wilted cabbage, I'd wager that this seitan was as hearty as any slab of meat. On the side we ate steamed rice and sweet coconut-ginger creamed corn, another neat vegan variation on a homely dish dreamed up by Bryant Terry.

Smothered seitan chops
(adapted very slightly from Bryant Terry's Vegan Soul Kitchen)

mushroom gravy
2 tablespoons olive oil
250g mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons wholemeal flour
1 cup soy milk
1 cup stock
salt and white pepper

~1/2 cup olive oil
5 tablespoons arrowroot/tapioca flour
500g seitan, sliced into 1cm thick medallions
1 large onion, chopped coarsely
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups stock
1 cup cabbage, finely chopped
2 jalapenos, minced (I used pickled ones)
2 tablespoons parsley, minced

Prepare the mushroom gravy in a medium-sized saucepan. Set that saucepan over medium heat and warm up 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Drop in the mushrooms and saute them for 5 minutes. Add the other tablespoon of olive oil and the flour and stir them through the mushrooms; cook them, stirring regularly for about 10 minutes. Gradually stir in the milk and the stock, then salt and pepper to your preference. Simmer the gravy for around 15 minutes, continuing to stir it often. Take the gravy off the heat and set it aside.

Pour a substantial layer of oil in a large frypan and set it over medium-high heat. Place the arrowroot in a shallow bowl. Dredge each piece of seitan in the arrowroot to lightly coat both sides and drop it into the frypan, frying it until golden on both sides. Repeat with the rest of the seitan. When they're finished frying, drain the seitan chops on absorbent paper; when all the chops are done, turn off the heat and clean out the pan.

Set the frypan back on medium-high heat and pour in 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil to lightly coat the base. Add the onion and fry it for 3-4 minutes, then reduce the heat and continue sauteing until the onion is thoroughly softened and starting to brown, another 10 minutes. Stir through the garlic and saute for a further 2-3 minutes. Pour over the mushroom gravy and the stock and bring it all to the boil. Add the seitan chops back in and reduce the heat, cover the frypan and simmer it all for 30 minutes (plenty of time to cook some corn and rice!).

When the simmering is done, add the cabbage and the jalapenos to the pan, gently fold them into the sauce, and continue simmering everything for 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle over the parsley and serve.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

2000 posts

We're celebrating another blog millennium with some alterations to our site design - hope you like the new look!

Actually, there's not much time to write as we're cooking all sorts of goodies for tomorrow's celebratory picnic. It'll be great to see some of you there.

I can't imagine what our years in Melbourne, eating habits and circle of friends would be like if we hadn't set up where's the beef?. Thanks for your readership, your recommendations and your encouragement.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Don't forget! where's the beef? picnic

In our 1999th post, we'd like to remind you that we're holding a 2000-post celebratory picnic this Sunday March 22 from noon. We'll set up at the northern end of Princes Park, near the pond. Come by and say hi, and if you want to stick around a while, please bring your own picnic gear too - blankets or chairs, plates, cups and cutlery and a plate of food to share. (The most sharing plates of food are ones that are vegan, gluten-free and otherwise diet-inclusive.) We couldn't have asked for a better weather forecast- it's likely to be 27°C and sunny!

If you're a facebooker, join the event page for last-minute updates. 

Note: this food is for illustrative purposes only, actual picnic food may vary

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Reuben Hills

February 24 & 25, 2015

We both had to work during our couple of days in Surry Hills, but there was enough time to squeeze in breakfast each morning. Having knocked off one Sydney icon in bills, we headed for another - Reuben Hills, one of Surry Hills' key hipster haunts.

It's a beautiful space, repurposed industrial and split into two levels: roastery upstairs, cafe downstairs. The cafe has low key neon artwork on the walls, gorgeous native plant centrepieces on the tables and lots of light streaming in the big back door. The coffee is excellent, the best I've had in Sydney (added bonus: they do an almond and macadamia milk option if you're over dairy and soy). The menu is interesting too, inspired by South and Central American food. Vegans have pretty limited options: avocado, coriander and lime on toast ($13.50) and a sago pudding (see below), but there are plenty of egg and dairy-based options for vegetarians.

On the first morning I ordered the baleada, a Honduran tortilla with scrambled eggs, salsa blanca and charro beans ($12). It looks a bit lonely on that giant plate, but it's a decent-sized meal and the bean and egg mix is pretty filling. The beans and the salsa are spicy and warming - it's a lovely way to start the day. 

Cindy ordered the vegan dish - blueberry sago with tapioca pearls, banana, agave syrup, almond milk and cacao nibs ($12.50).

The sago was a big scoop of jellyish gloop with the blueberries incorporated into it. It was sweet and covered in crunchy little cocoa nibs. Cindy enjoyed it quite a lot, and it's nice that Reuben Hills are doing something vegan-friendly on the sweet side.

We were impressed enough on our first visit that we decided to swing by again on our way to the airport. I stuck with savoury - the green chillaquiles with smoked pinto beans, seeds and currants, goats feta, sumac and a poached egg ($17.50). I wasn't quite sure what chillaquiles were - turns out they're crispy-fried tortilla bits (these were suspiciously like corn chips). The toppings were just incredible - smoky, spicy and full of textures and flavours. I was scraping the sauce out with my fingers by the end.

The main reason we'd returned was Cindy's desire to try this next dish: a pancake with date caramel, pecan praline and quandong icecream ($14).

Look at that! It's a beautiful dish - big crunchy/chewy praline chunks, a hefty smear of jam and the subtly flavoured ice-cream dotted with edible flowers. Cindy reported that it was too sweet (yep, even for her) - freeing the pecans from their toffee casing might've kept this in check, allowing the jam and icecream to feature properly.

Reuben Hills is an excellent cafe - the coffee is top notch, the menu interesting and varied and the prices not obscene. Service was friendly and efficient and it's a lovely place to linger in while you gear up to face the day. Of course, maybe all my positive vibes about Reuben Hills reflect the fact that we got to share the space with this little guy on the first day!



Reuben Hills
61 Albion St, Surry Hills
02 9211 5556

Accessibility: The back door (on Albion Way) is wide and flat, while the Albion St entry is a standard door with a step up. The interior is reasonably spacious with a clear corridor through the centre. The toilets are fully accessible. Your order is taken at the table and payment is at a lower counter.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Gelato Messina

February 24, 2015

I first read about Gelato Messina on The Unbearable Lightness of Being Hungry a few years ago. Though it sounded good, N2 Extreme Gelato seemed more exciting still and the former recommendation lapsed in the back of my mind. Both businesses have since opened stores in Melbourne and again N2 grabbed earlier exposure on our blog. Gelato Messina nevertheless seemed to have something good going on, with the Melbourne and Surry Hills stores clogged with queues every time I walked past them. After dinner at Sugarcane, I finally decided to attach myself to the end of it and find out what all the fuss was about.

The standard menu runs to two dozen gelato flavours and almost a dozen more vegan-friendly sorbets, and that's not even counting the half-dozen specials they offer at any one time. Scoops with gluten, nuts, eggs and alcohol are clearly marked, though the gelateria prints a disclaimer that they cannot guarantee any product in the shop is truly allergen-free.

Michael didn't really need to look further than their first standard flavour, such is his fondness for apple pie ($4 for one scoop, pictured above at back). It was a very convincing act, with roasted apple and cinnamon flavours embedded in the icecream and small pastry pieces studded throughout.

Meanwhile I took a punt on the most novel of their specials. Mr Potatohead promised peanut butter gelato, white chocolate and potato chips ($4 for one scoop, pictured above at front). I like the constituent parts, I like salty-sweet stuff and yet I harboured some skepticism as to how they'd work together. Friends: Gelato Messina masterfully melded those flavours and pulled off one of the most memorable icecreams I've ever eaten. The potato chips were folded through in large salty chunks and the peanut butter gelato was fluffy and true to flavour. I'd taste the chips, swirling the creamy gelato with my spoon, glimpsing icecream one moment and mashed potato the next. I've retold my icecream epiphany to several friends since and none of them are entirely convinced; I guess I probably won't convince you either! But damn, that Mr Potatohead gelato was special.

My first Gelato Messina experience could not have been more rewarding. I won't hesitate to join the queue again.


Gelato Messina is enormously popular with bloggers. In the past year this Surry Hills branch has been praised on The Law Student Diary, Simon Food Favourites, Take Me To Foodie Heaven, Millie's Food Symposium, A Moving Picture, Weekend Food Escapes by Lisa, paigebuck, Feeders Digest, Got My Vote! and Khana.

Gelato Messina
389 Crown St, Surry Hills
(02) 8354 1223
menu, specials

Accessibility: The shop has a flat entry but is often extremely crowded. Options are clearly visible in a low-ish display case, we ordered and paid over a high counter. We didn't visit toilets.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015


February 24, 2015

For our last night in Sydney we decided we should grab some Thai - the city's specialty. We tracked down Sugarcane, a slightly fancy option in the neighbourhood with good reviews and a decent range of veggie options. We nabbed one of the last few unbooked tables and scoped out the menu. It's the kind of place where you compile a meal out of bits and pieces - there are little dishes like grilled corn with coconut cream ($5), seasoned cashews with shallots, chilli and garlic ($6) and more sizable options like veggie pad thai ($15) and tofu with Malaysian curry sauce, snake beans and baby corn ($13).

We started with a plate of roti with curry sauce, cucumber and chilli ($10). It's pretty hard to go too badly wrong with fried bread and curried sauce, and Sugarcane didn't mess this up - probably not quite up to the standards set by the likes of Mamak, but excellent nonetheless.

Next up: vegetarian dumplings with soy, coriander and ginger dressing ($12). These were good as well - the pretty standard dumplings kicked up by the excellent gingery dressing.

We finished the meal off with the salt and pepper silken tofu with mushrooms and yellow beans ($13). This was probably the dish of the night - golden fried tofu with a light soy-based sauce on the veggies. Top notch.

Our dinner was short and snappy - just three dishes and less than $40 (we were saving room for ice-cream, see forthcoming post for details!). The vibe at Sugarcane is fun too - it's busy and upbeat without being stupidly noisy. The service was friendly, the drinks list looked great and the food hit the mark nicely. Check it out if you're dining in Surry Hills.



Sugar Cane
40-42 Reservoir St, Surry Hills
9281 1788

Accessibility: There's a flat entry. The interior's pretty crowded and there are a range of table options, from high stools to regular chairs. The toilets are fully accessible. There's full table service.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Mad Spuds Cafe

February 24, 2015

For a couple of years my mates K and Worbit have screeched about the potato-based vegan nachos at some cafe in Sydney. While walking home from Maya Vegetarian we spotted Mad Spuds Cafe and I confirmed with K that they were the venue of said nachos. A walk back to the cafe made a nice break in my hotel-bound working Tuesday.

Mad Spuds Cafe is the kind of cute and slightly daggy cafe that reminds me of the places I ate out as a student - charmingly cluttered with furniture, potato-themed knick-knacks and postcard-sized pictures. The spud-centred menu didn't do much to dispel this feeling, filled as it was with big eggy breakfasts, burgers, 'chicken n avo' sandwiches, stacks and nachos. Nevertheless, this cafe has found its niche and been widely, regularly blogged for years. Their many vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options are labelled clearly.

The famed potato nachos ($15) are available in beefy, vegetarian and vegan versions. Unfortunately working towards the latter type seems to be a process of subtraction rather than substitution - other blogs show plates stacked with cheese, sour cream and chopped tomatoes, while my vegan-ordered potato skins and beans were topped with a just little guacamole and some garnishing sprouts. As nachos they looked underwhelming but as lunch they were delicious - the beans were sweet and filling, and the signature spud skins were crispy outside and waxy-tender inside with a very snackable seasoning. I methodically worked my way through the whole plate.

Staff were in high demand and inconsistently attentive, but got the job done. As I looked around at the other tables, meals looked brighter and less stodgy than I expected - I'd enjoy a chance to sample more.

Fellow veg*n blogger Vegangela loves Mad Spuds Cafe. The cafe has received widespread coverage and compliments from omni bloggers, see The Food Book, 2 Hungry Guys, Jenny Chews, Memoirs of a Foodie, A Hedonist's Love, Foodversation, Gondo's Kitchen, The Hungry FoodTech, AdjacentAngles' Food Adventures, polyphagia, Project Sweet Stuff, The Classic Styler, Eat Your Teacup, Fight the Craving, i'm sorry scale, Little Miss Tanya, The Hungry Engineers, Eat Show & Tell, My SeeFood Diet, My Little Yummy Food Blog, hello it's ming, cameras & cuisines, Indulging Gluttonous Urges, Crystal Noir, Constant Diner, jeroxie, Buggles and Squeak, ChococolateSuze, Juju Chews, The Brunch Club, The Food Pornographer, Potato Princess, confident liar, Oh Hey Sydney!, Gastronomous Anonymous and Love My Foods & Sugar.  

Wordtography and Edesian Feast liked the food but thought it was pricey; eat sleep live repeat, The Chronicles of Hilda, Richard Elliott and food baby were also ambivalent.

Mad Spuds Cafe
479 Crown St, Surry Hills
(02) 9698 8108
menu front, breakfast, brunch & lunch, spuds, skins & salads, drinks, specials

Accessibility: There are a couple of steps up on entry (see photo above). Tables are crowded inside but have a clear pathway through the centre. I ordered at the table and paid at a low-ish counter. I didn't visit the toilets.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Maya Vegetarian

February 23, 2015

Once back in Sydney, I googled around for a vegetarian dinner option in Surry Hills. I thought I'd hit on something new with Maya Vegetarian, but the other blog posts listed below revealed that it was just new to us. There are several Maya Indian restaurants clustered together on Cleveland St, and at number 470 you'll find an all-vegetarian menu and a display case stacked with sweets. 

The setting is casual and comfortable - you need to order at a counter and fetch your own water, but food is delivered to the freshly-wiped tables and there are Bollywood posters and televised film clips to enjoy as you eat.

There's a lot to choose from - crispy-fried starters, a range of mains, Punjabi and South Indian thali, dosa, uttapam, breads, chaat, desserts and daily specials. I noticed helpful (v)s on vegan dishes throughout their online menu but not in store, so a bit of preparation may be in order.

Michael loves the variety and vastness of a thali ($15.90) - this Punjabi one included (clockwise from top) two breads and a papadum, salad and pickle (under the bread), herbed yoghurt, a charred eggplant curry, a dahl, sambhar, mattar paneer, basmati rice and a runny rice pudding. The bread was excellent and the eggplant and paneer curries were the first to disappear, but eventually Michael demolished almost the entire plate (...with a little help from a friend).

I tried out their Tandoori Paneer Kulcha ($8.90) - two fluffy, tandoori-charred breads stuffed with crumbly paneer, fresh herbs and green chilli, with a tub of raita and a smear of pickle.

The only shame of Maya's meals was that they were so generous we couldn't contemplate ordering anything sweet. I envy the residents of Surry Hills their opportunities to stop in for a cheap snack or an easy, filling and spicy meal.


Maya Vegetarian
470 Cleveland St, Surry Hills
(02) 9699 8663
starters & mains, dosa, uttapam, breads & specials, desserts, drinks & chaat

Accessibility: There is a step up on entry and well-spaced tables inside. We ordered and paid at a low-ish counter. We didn't visit the toilets.

Thursday, March 12, 2015


February 21-23, 2015

Leura has a vegan cafe that I'd heard of long before our plans to visit the Blue Mountains, thanks to The Lentil Institution and Little Vegan Bear. Pretty much every time Michael wanted to plan some detail of our mini-holiday, I'd try to insert a visit to Rubyfruit into the schedule. This was probably starting to grate on him but I (or Rubyfruit) clearly did alright because we ate there three times in three days.

Our first visit was for breakfast on a drizzly Saturday morning. Michael settled in with his usual soy flat white ($4), while I sampled their chai latte ($4.50). It was tough to choose our meals with chia pudding, polenta pancakes and scrambled tofu all on offer.

Michael actually skipped straight to the specials board and ordered the Oriental Bowl ($18) - greens, tomatoes, pickled ginger, avocado, shredded nori, kimchi, tamari ginger tempeh skewers and a miso dressing on a bed of black bean noodles. He made short work of it, declaring between mouthfuls that we should start cooking with these noodles ourselves.

I was famished and, in an uncharacteristic move, took on the Big Cook-up ($18). I worked my way through two dense but tasty little Linda McCartney sausages, some exceptional garlic fried mushrooms, sauteed baby spinach and roast tomatoes, two hash browns, a cup of sweet baked beans and two slices of sourdough. (Actually, I couldn't make it through the second piece of toast but I still considered myself victorious.) It was wonderful, and obliterated any need for lunch.

On Sunday morning we set off on the Prince Henry cliff walk in spite of the rain and mist, returning to Leura mid-afternoon, damp and hungry (a few highlights are included in a slideshow at the end of the post). A mango, passionfruit and coconut smoothie ($9) instantly brought a smile to my face with its Weiss bar flavours.

Michael dug into a satay tofu wrap ($15) with a rainbow salad side. The battered and fried tofu strips were padded out with fresh salad veges, and he was really impressed by the complex, rich peanut sauce.

I was in the mood for the special Schnitzel Burger ($16.50). The lazy-but-good Fry's patty was supported by more great greens (I picked the same rainbow salad side), generous aioli and 'slaw and a crusty bun.

Honestly, I'd spent all weekend mooning over the cake cabinet and was pretty insistent that we stop by for morning tea before setting off for Sydney on Monday. I started out with a sweet and frothy hazelnut milk shot through with Heilala vanilla syrup ($5).

I was sad that Saturday's peanut butter cheesecake was sold out and not replenished, but the cherry coconut ripple cheesecake ($8) was ample compensation - a silky smooth slice with all the right elements that didn't go over the top.

The triple chocolate hazelnut brownie ($5.50) was square, dark and handsome. Heated up and intensely flavoured with a dollop of cool coconut whipped cream ($1.50), it might've been the high point of our three thoroughly enjoyable meals.

We'd enthusiastically recommend Rubyfruit to any veg*ns visiting the Blue Mountains - they've got a great array of savoury dishes (including well-marked gluten-free options) and the sweets cabinet is superlative. Service was sometimes slow, but always warm and capable. Their talents are no secret, so get in early or be prepared to wait for a table.

Rubyfruit attracts visits and praise from numerous veg*n bloggers visiting the Blue Mountains, see Vegan Westie, miscdebris, Vegans Have Superpowers, Little Vegan Bear, Thinking Creature (in Russian!), VegeTARAian, ALL THINGS BEAUTY AND LIFESTYLE!, The Lentil Institution and Kittens Gone Lentil.


Shop 10, 166-168 Leura Mall, Leura
0432 963 663
breakfast, lunch, drinks, specials
facebook page

Accessibility: There's both a staircase and a lift available to access this first-floor cafe. Furniture is moderately spaced. We ordered at the table and paid at a high counter. Toilets are located on the ground floor of the arcade, gendered and include disability access.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Leura Garage

February 20 & 22, 2015

We had done very little in the way of pre-trip food research for this weekend, so one of our first tasks was to have a wander up and down the main street and see what grabbed our attention. Leura Garage had the sort of vibe that attracts us - more relaxed than the slightly stuffy white tablecloth style of Silk's - and a menu that was pretty well stocked with vego options. We headed there for dinner on our first night.

It took us a while to hit upon a plan for the meal - Cindy was keen on the pizzas, while I wanted to sample more broadly from the menu. In the end we decided to sneak a side in along with a pizza and come back for a second visit if things measured up.

The pumpkin pizza with house made onion jam, feta and spinach ($26) was impressive. A great base, with some crispness to the crust and a wonderful salty and sweet combination of toppings.

Our side dish was a summer bean mix ($17) - snake, borlotti and flat beans with toasted garlic flakes, pine nuts and an citrus and olive oil dressing. They'd seasoned this heavily too, and the lemon juice and salt really made the beans sparkle.

It's safe to say that we were won over, so when Sunday rolled around we booked ourselves in for another visit. This time we ordered the vegetarian board I had my eye on the first trip - a selection of fresh and house pickled bulbs and vegetables with rustic bread and dips ($26). We matched it up with the yellow polenta chips, served with tomato and red pepper relish and parmesan ($16).

The veggie board was a good mix of bits and bobs - heirloom carrots, pickled olives and onions, a smoky eggplant dip, bread, crackers, mushrooms and on and on. I'd have happily traded a couple of the pickled things for another dip, but all in all it was a pretty good package. The polenta chips were fat, crispy and well seasoned - dunked in the relish and sprinkled with parmesan they were terrific.

We were very happy to find Leura Garage - it's got a lovely fit-out, embracing the building's history as a garage without descending too far into quirkiness. There's great beer, friendly staff and decent coffee. It's not cheap - $26 for a pizza is pushing things a bit - but when I'm on holidays I find it easy to just go along with higher prices. And the food is great - that's the main thing really.


Reviews for Leura Garage are pretty positive - check out food is our religion, maggietea, Nadene's Suburban Farmyard, Confessions of a Gluttonthe cooks room, foodies agenda, Got My Vote!, Miss K Licious,, Food Porn Nation, A Table for Two, Not Quite Nigella and Gourmanda. The Adventures of Miss Piggy thought the food was good but overpriced, while beyond jelly and  Prick with a Fork thought the service was mediocre.

Leura Garage
84 Railway Parade, Leura
02 4784 3391

Accessibility: Excellent - a flat entryway, a slightly crowded interior (especially when it's full of people as it seems to be all weekend). It's full table service. The toilets are fully accessible.