We ducked off to Lorne for a spring long-weekend, managing to luck out with a ridiculously lovely few days of sunshine. We spent most of the time wandering the beach and the lookout tracks, reading books and eating our way through some of the treats that the town has to offer.
We stumbled across Mexican Republic (which strangely has no website - here's the Zomato page) on our walk up to our accommodation and headed back for an early dinner.
It's a cute little place with a handful of booths and a couple of outside tables. The menu is reasonably veg-friendly, although you'd need to ask for some alterations to get anything vegan. We kicked things off with a mojito ($15) and a citrus margarita ($12), which were boozy and refreshing. Cindy ordered one of the smokey bean tacos (with goats cheese, black beans, corn and smokey salsa, $8) alongside some charred street corn (butter, cheese, chipotle mayo and lime, $6). She was particularly impressed by the well-charred corn, while the $8 taco was a decent if expensive bite.
I ordered the smokey burrito (black beans, quinoa, guacamole, smokey tomato and corn salsa, goats cheese, cabbage, pickled onion and chipotle mayo, $16). Quinoa is kind of a weird burrito filling, but it does a good job of replacing the regular rice option while adding a bit of a crunchy texture. The rest of the fillings were decent as well, but it needed some hot sauce to liven things up a bit and was a bit over-priced at $16 (to be fair, everything seemed a little bit pricier in Lorne than in Melbourne).
We got up super early the next morning to check out the sunrise from Teddy's Lookout (photos in the slideshow below) and wandered down to the main street afterwards to scope out our brekkie options. The early crowds were at Moon's Espresso, and the menu was enticing enough to lure us in to join them.
The menu is pretty eggy - there is a simple toast dish with hummus, avo, basil and tomato ($14) that seemed vegan, but that was about it. I was starving and ordered the biggest dish I could - the Mushington D.C. - a brilliant combo of sauteed mushrooms with goats cheese, dukka, spinach and poached eggs on toast ($17). Cindy had the more modest fruit toast with butter ($8), which was a solid rendition of a pretty straightforward dish.
We snacked at home and then went for an early dinner at the highly regarded Pizza Pizza. The tiny little shopfront cranks out high quality pizzas - the only seating for now is at the outdoor tables, although there was some work going on in the building next door to add in some indoor seating.
Pizza Pizza feels straight outta Brunswick - crispy, perfectly cooked bases, with an interesting selection of toppings. We split a Pizza for Nelly (napoli sauce, mozzarella, capers, olives, sun-dried tomato and caramelised onions, $16.50) and a Spinner (napoli sauce, mozzarella, spinach, roast pumpkin, feta and pine nuts, $16.50). These were truly excellent pizzas - definitely worth a visit (or a takeaway down at the beach).
On Sunday we grabbed a late brunch at the Swing Bridge Cafe and Boathouse, a cute little cafe perfectly situated by the bridge over the Erskine River. It's a popular spot, bathed in sunlight, with the surrounding picnic tables included in the cafe's service area.
It's a small menu, with nothing obviously vegan. I ordered the 'weeds' - slow poached eggs on sourdough, with smashed avocado, goats cheese, coriander and kale ($17). The super slow poached eggs are pretty gooey - I don't mind them, but they're an acquired taste. The rest of this was ace though, with the kale letting me pretend that I was having a healthy weekend. Cindy grabbed one of the sweets - an apple crumble muffin - with a strawberry smoothie ($8). The smoothie didn't really burst with fresh strawberries, with the unripe banana base overwhelming it all a bit. The muffin was okay - not loaded with apple, but warm, sweet and strudel-ly.
Our final meal of the weekend was at The Bottle of Milk, a specialty burger place with branches in Lorne and Torquay. The menu's got five veggie burger options - three of which can easily be made vegan.
We had the tofu burger (foreground, marinated grilled tofu with tomato, onion, carrot, lettuce, mayo, chillie paste and satay sauce, $14) and the hot lentil (background, housemade lentil patty with cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, carrot, mayo, chilli and lemon yoghurt) plus a serve of fries ($6.50) with bbq sauce ($1). I was really impressed by my lentil burger - an excellent patty, with some zingy condiments and fresh salad. The tofu burger worked well too - marinated tofu at non-vego is often pretty bland, so we were impressed that The Bottle of Milk seemed to know what they were doing.
We had a lovely weekend in Lorne - the weather was perfect, the setting was stunning and the food was pretty top notch.