HOT: Giddyup Mule, 177 Stephen St, Yarraville

DSC07076 1024x690 HOT: Giddyup Mule, 177 Stephen St, Yarraville

Giddyup Mule is Yarraville’s latest cafe opening. It’s part of the growing trend in serving healthy, raw, organic, paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free food that’s permeating through Melbourne’s cafe scene -perhaps as a reaction to the opposing trend of burgers, fried chicken and doughnuts!

DSC07048 1024x676 HOT: Giddyup Mule, 177 Stephen St, YarravilleDSC07054 1024x781 HOT: Giddyup Mule, 177 Stephen St, Yarraville

Giddyup Mule takes over the space that used to be a more simple coffee bar at Art of Cycling, an indoor spin training studio. It’s a little hard to find as the doorway and signage is hidden behind a street umbrella, so just look out for the Art of Cycling sign.

DSC07050 1024x754 HOT: Giddyup Mule, 177 Stephen St, Yarraville

The two young owners and westie locals Magarethe and Jodie have built a new kitchen, store room and brought their own spin (pun intended) on the space, with a roaring wood heater, a paint job and a kicking (pun intended again) menu of interesting dishes.

DSC07072 1024x704 HOT: Giddyup Mule, 177 Stephen St, Yarraville

The drinks list includes Axil coffee, Mofo hot chocolate, silky Chai Walli chai made with milk (or soy) and honey, a range from Tea Tonic, juices, smoothies and kombucha on tap by Grateful Harvest.

DSC07057 1024x822 HOT: Giddyup Mule, 177 Stephen St, Yarraville

The kombucha is freshly brewed in Melbourne and the ginger and tumeric is tangy and fresh ($5). I’m told the orange is sweeter if you’re not familiar with the fermented taste of kombucha.

DSC07058 698x1024 HOT: Giddyup Mule, 177 Stephen St, Yarraville

I try the pulled pork cigars with apple and walnut salad and smoky sauce ($18.50). It’s a decadent dish with melting strips of pork rolled up in a fried parcel – can’t really go wrong! The crunchy apples and nuts provide a textural and flavour contrast to the meat.

DSC07064 1024x781 HOT: Giddyup Mule, 177 Stephen St, Yarraville

The bircher muesli is a wild palette of colourful elements and totally delicious, especially the coconut yoghurt which they infuse with acai and berries. It’s good value for money at $12 as you won’t be able to fit in much else afterwards.

DSC07066 1024x677 HOT: Giddyup Mule, 177 Stephen St, Yarraville

You can’t go past a cafe menu these days without seeing smashed avo and this version comes with house-marinated feta and smoked cherry tomatoes ($16.50). It’s a generous tumble of vibrant freshness and the kombucha vinaigrette adds an interesting tangy twist to an otherwise ubiquitous menu item.

DSC07069 1024x792 HOT: Giddyup Mule, 177 Stephen St, Yarraville

For dessert there is a selection of organic raw desserts by Torquay’s Life Seeeds. I am in love with raw desserts at the moment as it seems like a healthier way to indulge my sweet tooth. The salted caramel joy bar ($7.50) contains ‘Aztec superfoods’ but all you need to know is that it’s decadent and rich.

DSC07074 696x1024 HOT: Giddyup Mule, 177 Stephen St, Yarraville

Giddyup Mule is a fun, friendly and healthy addition to the inner west cafe scene. If you’re a bike rider / gym-goer it’s even more convenient, with Art of Cycling spin classes, DCPT personal training and group fitness and Western Velo Works bike repairs in the same building.

DSC07053 1024x659 HOT: Giddyup Mule, 177 Stephen St, Yarraville

DSC07051 1024x663 HOT: Giddyup Mule, 177 Stephen St, Yarraville

Plus if you need an early caffeine hit they’re open 6:30am on weekdays!

DSC07059 1024x686 HOT: Giddyup Mule, 177 Stephen St, Yarraville

Giddyup Mule 177 Stephen St, Yarraville 0405 788 253

Mon – Fri 6.30am to 4om

Sat 7- 4pm

Sun 8-4pm

 HOT: Giddyup Mule, 177 Stephen St, Yarraville
 

HOT: Smith & Deli, 111 Moor St, Fitzroy

Smith Deli 111 Moor St Fitzroy 6 HOT: Smith & Deli, 111 Moor St, Fitzroy

The owners of popular vegan restaurant Smith & Daughters in Fitzroy have now branched out to a delightful Jewish-inspired deli just around the corner on Moor Street. Dubbed Smith & Deli, the new-age convenience store will be a haven for vegans, vegetarians and curious omnivores.

Smith Deli 111 Moor St Fitzroy 1 HOT: Smith & Deli, 111 Moor St, Fitzroy

Smith & Deli is housed in an old brick factory and I love the retro feel to the place, from the mint-green furnishings thanks to Callum Preston (who also designed Smith & Daughters) to the 50s rock tunes.

Smith Deli 111 Moor St Fitzroy 12 HOT: Smith & Deli, 111 Moor St, Fitzroy

Smith Deli 111 Moor St Fitzroy 5 HOT: Smith & Deli, 111 Moor St, Fitzroy

The store’s focus is on take away food, provisions, fresh produce and take-home meals and the shelves and cabinets simply groan with neat rows of tempting food.

Smith Deli 111 Moor St Fitzroy 4 HOT: Smith & Deli, 111 Moor St, Fitzroy

Smith Deli 111 Moor St Fitzroy 3 HOT: Smith & Deli, 111 Moor St, Fitzroy

I was invited to visit Smith & Deli ahead of their official opening this Tuesday 16 June and had a lot of fun sampling their goods. I should preface my comments with the fact that I’m not vegan – so I’m comparing vegan dishes with their non-vegan originals. If you are limited to vegan choices then I think Smith & Deli will be a gastronomical broadening of horizons. If you’re not vegan, it’ll be eye-opening though in some cases I admit I’d prefer to eat the non-vegan versions.

Smith Deli 111 Moor St Fitzroy 2 HOT: Smith & Deli, 111 Moor St, Fitzroy

I was offered a pre-made lunch box to try ($15) consisting of a half a Reuben sandwich, a noodle salad and a slice of apple crumble slice. I also gave way to temptation to buy up their baked goods – a croissant, doughnut, dill pretzel, passionfruit tart, honey cake and challah.

The highlights were the spongy glazed doughnut with ‘custard’, the surprisingly flaky croissant and the bready but not too chewy dill pretzel. Let’s just say they got the tick of approval from a 4 year old omnivore!

Smith Deli 111 Moor St Fitzroy 8 HOT: Smith & Deli, 111 Moor St, Fitzroy

I didn’t love the dry pastry of the passionfruit tart though the filling was creamy and sweet or I’d much prefer the chunky meatiness of a proper Reuben sandwich.

Smith Deli 111 Moor St Fitzroy 11 HOT: Smith & Deli, 111 Moor St, Fitzroy

Intrigued by the possibility of a vegan take home meal I bought a ready made pastrami pizza and margherita pizza ($16 each). The pizza base was light and fluffy and the flavours were true – it was just the curious un-melted texture of the ‘cheese’ which signalled its vegan origins. My kids loved it…but give me mozzarella instead.

Smith Deli 111 Moor St Fitzroy 10 HOT: Smith & Deli, 111 Moor St, Fitzroy

There’s no seating on site so it’s strictly take-away service. Whitlam Square and Condell Reserve all offer nice places to sit and eat and if you’re studying in Fitzroy Library it’s just a handy diagonal stride across Moor Street.

Smith & Deli is a unique concept – a friendly grocery store where dishes have been converted to plant-based fare without sacrificing flavour. I did think in some cases the texture of meat and dairy simply couldn’t be replicated, but I’m curious enough to return, especially for the house-made vegan pastrami and salami (their slicer wasn’t working yet).

Smith & Deli, 111 Moor St, Fitzroy

Tue-Sun 8am-7pm

Opening Tuesday 16 June 2015

 HOT: Smith & Deli, 111 Moor St, Fitzroy

HOT: Like Minded Projects, 41-49 Smith Street, Fitzroy

Like Minded Projects 41 49 Smith Street Fitzroy 5 HOT: Like Minded Projects, 41 49 Smith Street, Fitzroy

Like Minded Projects is a stunning cafe on Smith Street that specialises in vegan, gluten-free and raw food.

It’s a combined operation with three different like-minded businesses – coffee roaster Coffee Supreme, raw and whole food kitchen Fred Gets (which includes in its collection Pana Chocolate’s raw organic desserts) and Ace raw cookies and nut milk.

Like Minded Projects 41 49 Smith Street Fitzroy 3 HOT: Like Minded Projects, 41 49 Smith Street, Fitzroy

The decor is head-turning, with a long glass frontage beckoning you inside the whitewashed and coolly chic interior. The light room is enhanced with shiny surfaces and pops of colour from the ceramic planters and the vertical green wall at the entrance.

The three suppliers each have their own distinct section highlighted by neon signs. Coffee of course comes from Coffee Supreme and how can you avoid a coffee machine that instructs you to ‘Get Some’.

Like Minded Projects 41 49 Smith Street Fitzroy 7 HOT: Like Minded Projects, 41 49 Smith Street, Fitzroy

Like Minded Projects 41 49 Smith Street Fitzroy 9 HOT: Like Minded Projects, 41 49 Smith Street, Fitzroy

If you’re after food then Fred Gets  supplies vegetarian salads, open sandwiches, juices, muesli and other gluten-free dishes.

Like Minded Projects 41 49 Smith Street Fitzroy 2 HOT: Like Minded Projects, 41 49 Smith Street, Fitzroy

 

Like Minded Projects 41 49 Smith Street Fitzroy 6 HOT: Like Minded Projects, 41 49 Smith Street, Fitzroy

Just load up an enamel bowl ($11.50 for large), get a squirt of your housemade dressing on top and draw up a stool by the expansive people-watching window.

For lunch I chose half-and-half of two healthy salads, two croquettes and a fritter. The just-toasted croquettes were surprisingly fluffy though with the amount of salad I had I could have just had one. The fritter was on the dry side and I’d do without next time.

Like Minded Projects 41 49 Smith Street Fitzroy 1 HOT: Like Minded Projects, 41 49 Smith Street, Fitzroy

For dessert I browsed Ace’s raw cookie collection and must admit I didn’t particularly enjoy my taste test. My small morsel was tack-hard and rather dry – basically, what I’d expect a cookie without butter to taste like. On the Ace side is also a stock of coconut-based ice-creams by Zebra Dream which I’ve enjoyed before. I recommend his mint choc chip!

For sweets I steer you instead towards the brass-trimmed cabinet filled with healthy treats from Pana Chocolate, a raw chocolate and dessert retailer in Richmond. I liked the humorous references in all their dessert names – twists on well-known chocolate bars and sweets!

Like Minded Projects 41 49 Smith Street Fitzroy 4 HOT: Like Minded Projects, 41 49 Smith Street, Fitzroy

What makes raw desserts different to your bog-standard Snickers bar, for instance, is that a small morsel really fills you up. After my lunch I thought I’d like to try a couple of the sweets from the cabinet as I couldn’t decide, but after my modestly sized Vespa Wheel (their take on the Wagon Wheel) I simply couldn’t eat any more.

Like Minded Projects 41 49 Smith Street Fitzroy 8 HOT: Like Minded Projects, 41 49 Smith Street, Fitzroy

I took some of the desserts home as I was assured that they would freeze well. Over the course of a few days I nibbled on various sweets and I concluded that my favourite was the raw lamington. With other items I found either the texture wasn’t quite right or the raw chocolate was too rich for me.

I like that the food at Like Minded Projects is wholesome but it’s provided with a sense of humour. Along with the uber-stylish space, the cafe is one pretty package for advertising the virtues of clean-eating.

Like Minded Projects, 41-49 Smith Street, Fitzroy

Mon-Fri 7am-5pm

Sat-Sun 9am-5pm

 HOT: Like Minded Projects, 41 49 Smith Street, Fitzroy

HOT: Heal.Thy Self Co., 26 Ballarat St, Yarraville

Heal.Thy Self Co. 26 Ballarat St Yarraville 1 HOT: Heal.Thy Self Co., 26 Ballarat St, Yarraville

If one of your New Years resolutions is to ‘eat better’ or ‘be healthier’ then Heal.Thy Self Co. is the place to head.

Despite my aversion to its pun- and punctuation-overdosed name, Heal.Thy Self Co. is worth a visit for its healthy, organic, often raw, mostly vegetarian food. Produce comes from their grocery neighbour Plump Organic.

Their smoothie, tea and juice menu is longer than their food menu but if you want your nutrients in solid form then there are still some interesting options.

I start with the Almond Crusted Chicken Schnitzel wrap ($10) because it sounds like something normal in amongst a dizzying array of superfood ingredients that are very ‘now’ – chia seed, maca powder, quinoa and acai.

Heal.Thy Self Co. 26 Ballarat St Yarraville 5 HOT: Heal.Thy Self Co., 26 Ballarat St, Yarraville

It turns out to be DIY wholemeal wrap with chunks of chicken, organic salad greens, cheese and almond butter dressing. Naturally delicious in its own right with a secondary benefit of being healthy.

For dessert I try the chocolate chia parfait which is gluten free, raw and dairy free ($14). This beautiful concoction contains the gelatinous gooeyness of soaked chia seeds, a rich dose of chocolate chia mousse, fresh berries, crunchy activated bukinis and topped with delicate edible flowers.

Heal.Thy Self Co. 26 Ballarat St Yarraville 3 HOT: Heal.Thy Self Co., 26 Ballarat St, Yarraville

I hope it’s good for me as it certainly doesn’t look like it will do my waistline any good. The fleshy chia seeds make the dish extremely filling and it could easily be shared between two. Unfortunately the chocolate chia parfait is not available any more, replaced with a more summery version minus the chocolate.

I enjoyed my lunch at Heal.Thy Self Co. as it makes enjoying healthy food easy and delicious. If you want to continue your well-being journey, at Heal.Thy Self Co. you’ll also find a naturopath, personal trainers, yoga teacher and shiatsu massage on site.

Heal.Thy Self Co. 26 Ballarat Street, Yarraville

Mon to Fri 6:30am – 4:00pm

Sat & Sun 7:30am – 4:00pm

minilink HOT: Heal.Thy Self Co., 26 Ballarat St, Yarraville

HOT: Little Big Sugar Salt, 385 Victoria St, Abbotsford

Little Big Sugar Salt 385 Victoria St Abbotsford 4 HOT: Little Big Sugar Salt, 385 Victoria St, Abbotsford

Little Big Sugar Salt is a small cafe in Abbotsford, a fish out of water in amongst Vietnamese dominated Victoria Street.

Little Big Sugar Salt 385 Victoria St Abbotsford 5 HOT: Little Big Sugar Salt, 385 Victoria St, Abbotsford

It hides in a corner building and feels like someone’s house, with three small white-washed rooms with artworks, books in the fireplaces and felt cushioned shipping pallets as bench seating.

Little Big Sugar Salt 385 Victoria St Abbotsford 3 HOT: Little Big Sugar Salt, 385 Victoria St, Abbotsford

Little Big Sugar Salt 385 Victoria St Abbotsford 6 HOT: Little Big Sugar Salt, 385 Victoria St, Abbotsford

Now it stands out even more as its revamped approach delivers interesting, healthy and one could even say somewhat faddish elements into its cafe menu. The reason for their change of heart? They say ‘rather than serving you buttery, gluteny, rich meals…our new menu focuses as much on health as it does on flavour.’

Speaking of which, the pun-tastic menu is like a wheel of fortune. Basically you pick a quadrant to choose food of a small size, a big meal, something sweet or something savoury. I like the idea and I get the reason for the circular format but to be honest it was difficult to negotiate with my sleep-addled brain.

Fullscreen capture 26052014 114353 AM.bmp 540x439 HOT: Little Big Sugar Salt, 385 Victoria St, Abbotsford

I was invited to try out their new menu and after turning that card around and around in my hands we finally landed on Freekakes ($17) and Guilt-free Hot Mess ($17) along with some spiced kombucha and house-made almond milk.
Little Big Sugar Salt 385 Victoria St Abbotsford 7 HOT: Little Big Sugar Salt, 385 Victoria St, Abbotsford

The drinks were both delicious over ice – in fact, the almond milk was almost like a peanut butter milkshake! It’s not normally on the drinks menu but ask for it if you like nutty milk.

Little Big Sugar Salt 385 Victoria St Abbotsford 8 HOT: Little Big Sugar Salt, 385 Victoria St, Abbotsford

The freekakes consisted of four freekeh, sweet potato and currant fritters with cashew cream, chilli jam, wilted kale and two fried eggs. While visually it didn’t look fantastic it was a taste sensation, particularly with the chilli jam lifting the flavours beyond the potentially bland.

In contrast, the Guilt-free Hot Mess (for your Gluten-free Girlfriend was the subtitle) looked gorgeous but did not deliver in terms of texture. The tower of mini gluten-free almond pancakes were much too dry and crumbly, almost like eating baked cottage cheese.

Little Big Sugar Salt 385 Victoria St Abbotsford 2 HOT: Little Big Sugar Salt, 385 Victoria St, Abbotsford

I had a chat to the manager about the pancakes and he explained that they were still experimenting with using gluten-free ingredients to make just-like-gluten fluffy pancakes, so I hope they advance beyond almond meal.  The accompaniments were great – coconut dairy-free ice cream, a pool of berry compote and sugar-free date syrup finished off with a pretty perimeter of fresh tropical fruit.

Little Big Sugar Salt 385 Victoria St Abbotsford 1 HOT: Little Big Sugar Salt, 385 Victoria St, Abbotsford

As a final test of their ‘sweet’ side we tried the full-of-gluten-and-dairy crumpets ($10). There’s a rotating roster of flavours and on our visit there was honey with roasted banana and a gorgeous plum marmalade that I could have eaten by the jar.

Little Big Sugar Salt is a worthwhile destination for food that’s virtuous and delicious. With a couple of tweaks in the kitchen (and please, all menu text written in one direction!) it could be a real winner, especially for those who have food intolerances.

Little Big Sugar Salt, 385 Victoria St, Abbotsford 03 9427 8818

Mon to Fri 6:30 am – 3:00 pm

Sat to Sun 8:00 am – 3:00 pm

 
minilink HOT: Little Big Sugar Salt, 385 Victoria St, Abbotsford

HOT: Kinfolk, 673 Bourke St, Melbourne

Kinfolk Cafe 673 Bourke St Melbourne 21 HOT: Kinfolk, 673 Bourke St, Melbourne

Kinfolk is a place that makes you feel good about eating out. That’s because the café is a social enterprise run mostly by volunteers and all profits go towards four Australian and international development projects. Customers can even choose where their money goes by popping a coffee bean into one of the project jars.

Kinfolk Cafe 673 Bourke St Melbourne 11 HOT: Kinfolk, 673 Bourke St, Melbourne

The space is small but lovingly decorated with books, bric-a-brac, blooms and an ecletic mix of furniture. Tradesmen, artists and designers all volunteered their time to fit out the café with donated and found materials and the atmosphere that’s created is one of arty charm and cosiness.

Kinfolk Cafe 673 Bourke St Melbourne 41 HOT: Kinfolk, 673 Bourke St, Melbourne

In line with this ethos to care for the community and the environment, most of the food at Kinfolk is locally sourced, often organic, bio-dynamic and/or fair trade and mostly vegetarian.

Kinfolk Cafe 673 Bourke St Melbourne 61 HOT: Kinfolk, 673 Bourke St, Melbourne

Kinfolk Cafe 673 Bourke St Melbourne 31 HOT: Kinfolk, 673 Bourke St, Melbourne

The handwritten menu of wholesomeness changes daily and we tried a warming bean and lentil bake with aromatic curry flavours with a small (though sizeable) side salad of barley, brown rice, cranberries and watercress, and an open sandwich of kale, rocket, haloumi and walnuts which was a bit dry and on the small side.

Kinfolk Cafe 673 Bourke St Melbourne 51 HOT: Kinfolk, 673 Bourke St, Melbourne

The sweets were provided by Little Bertha, including a highly recommended gluten-free pistachio and raspberry almond meal cake topped with a swirl of white chocolate cream cheese icing, and if you order tea or chai it comes in a deliciously oversized vintage teapot. 

Kinfolk Cafe 673 Bourke St Melbourne 71 HOT: Kinfolk, 673 Bourke St, Melbourne

The service was a bit haphazard and there were lots of blank looks and ‘I don’t knows’ but it was easily forgiven when you know they are volunteers. Kinfolk is a warm and busy hub of students and office workers, all looking for a great feed for a good cause.

If you’re wanting to experience Kinfolk in the evening, they are launching ‘Speak As You Eat’, a series of not-for-profit dinners between April – July curated by Kinfolk’s chef Paolo Arlotta. Your hosts include a  jazz singer, a life coach, a sustainability consultant, an architect, a filmmaker and an actress and each guest speaker will host the event while you enjoy a five-course, vegetarian, fine-dining meal with 20 strangers prepared by Paolo and a guest chef. As expected, all guest chefs, speakers, kitchen and floor staff will be volunteers and all profits from the dinners will support local and overseas charities.

  • Dinner 1: May 6 – Speaker: Michael Lutman, Melbourne filmmaker, Guest Chef: Travis Goodlet (head chef The Courthouse Hotel, ex Papa Goose)
  • Dinner 2: June 3 – Zvi Belling (Architect and jazz musician), Guest Chef: Stefano Rosi (head chef Hawthorn Common, ex Vue de Monde)
  • Dinner 3: July – Speaker: Cece Ojany, accredited life coach and founder of The Main Protagonist, Guest Chef: Clinton McIver (head chef Champions Grill Bistro at Clayton Bowling Club, ex Vue de Monde Head Chef)
  • Dinner 4: July – Speaker: Miguel Angel Oyarbide (Sustainability Consultant), Guest Chef: Christy Tania (Head Chef at Om Nom with expertise in the French art of pastry)
  • Dinner 5: Tariro Mavondo (actress, performer). Guest Chef: Francesco Castellana (Date TBC)

Kinfolk, 673 Bourke St, Melbourne

Open 7am-3pm, Monday – Friday

minilink HOT: Kinfolk, 673 Bourke St, Melbourne

NOT: Admiral Cheng-Ho, 325 Johnston St, Abbotsford

Admiral Cheng Ho 325 Johnston St Abbotsford 5 NOT: Admiral Cheng Ho, 325 Johnston St, Abbotsford

It’s been a long time between drinks on the NOT side of the scale.

So I guess the laws of probability meant that it was about time for me to a hit a NOT. I just hadn’t expected it to be Admiral Cheng-Ho.

Admiral Cheng-Ho is the new northside outpost for south-of-the-river favourite Monk Bodhi Dharma and it gets an emphatic HOT. The setting is unique (random brick building in Woolworths carpark), the food is healthful, interesting and lovingly prepared. And for my coffee-loving friends it’s one of the best places for coffee in the Balaclava area.

Unfortunately, Admiral Cheng-Ho did not meet up to my (high) expectations.

Firstly, the food was really, really slow. I can give them a bit of leeway – it was Monday 11am, the place was newly opened and obviously word had already gotten out as it was almost full. The kitchen was small and the staff looked slightly disorganised. However, we waited over 45 minutes for our lunch. Admittedly we had ordered two dishes that needed to be cooked – but still it would have been quicker if we’d whipped up a plate of zucchini fritters and mushrooms on toast ourselves. Also I noticed that others who ordered very easy to prepare dishes like muesli and avocado were waiting inordinately long periods for their food.

So, Admiral Cheng-Ho has been slammed since it opened and maybe they’re ill-prepared. But to run out of one of your menu items by lunchtime Monday? The cafe missed out on the $14.50 I was going to hand over for that sold-out banoffee pie.

Which leads me onto my second criticism – the prices. Our dishes, which sounded delicious on paper, cost $18.50 each, and a tall mug of chai cost $6. A house-made ice tea was $7.50. Coconut water, even if it did come from a fresh coconut and not from a bottle, was $7. Etc Etc. This from a menu of vegetarian food.

Admiral Cheng Ho 325 Johnston St Abbotsford 6 NOT: Admiral Cheng Ho, 325 Johnston St, Abbotsford

OK, OK. So I can swallow steep prices for vegetarian food if it is spectacular. And in this case not only were our dishes slow and expensive, they did not taste very good. The zucchini fritters were bland, gelatinous masses with a minimal amount of zucchini inside. Not a hint of fluffiness, crispiness or lightness in the stodgy patties. The best thing about this dish was the basil cashew cream, which helped make palatable, but didn’t alleviate, the gluey texture of the tasteless, stretchy fritters.

Admiral Cheng Ho 325 Johnston St Abbotsford 1 NOT: Admiral Cheng Ho, 325 Johnston St, Abbotsford

On our second dish the mix of mushrooms was quite satisfying in its earthiness and the creaminess of the goats cheese was a perfect touch, but the home made sundried tomato polenta bread turned out to be two dry, crumbly crispy cakes which left an unpleasant mealy texture in my mouth. Given that they also serve bread from Rustica Sourdough I would have much preferred that they used a couple of slices of that excellent bread instead.

Admiral Cheng Ho 325 Johnston St Abbotsford 2 NOT: Admiral Cheng Ho, 325 Johnston St, Abbotsford

What is impressive is their commitment to coffee – the counter holds six simultaneous grinders filled with different single-origin beans. To go with your $20 dish you can even buy a $20 coffee!

Admiral Cheng Ho 325 Johnston St Abbotsford 4 NOT: Admiral Cheng Ho, 325 Johnston St, Abbotsford

 

And I liked the fitout, the epitome of recycled urban chic. The light fittings made from wire baskets, the glossy metal stools and the oversized Citizen wall clock.

Admiral Cheng Ho 325 Johnston St Abbotsford 3 NOT: Admiral Cheng Ho, 325 Johnston St, Abbotsford

But is that enough to recommend Admiral Cheng-Ho to you? There’s been a bit of breathless hype about its opening and I wanted and expected to love it…but my answer is NO(T).

Admiral Cheng-Ho, 325 Johnston St, Abbotsford (03) 9534 7250

Mon to Fri 7am–4pm 
Sat & Sun 8am–5pm

 

 

 

 

 

 

HOT: Hello Aubergine vegetarian lunch delivery

DSC06164 341x5401 HOT: Hello Aubergine vegetarian lunch delivery

I am currently in love with the lunches made by Hello Aubergine, a vegetarian bicycle delivery service run by Pippa Macdonald that delivers once a week in the Fitzroy and Collingwood area.

DSC06161 540x363 HOT: Hello Aubergine vegetarian lunch delivery

Pippa designs the menu weekly, prepares the food and delivers the orders on her vintage bike, her wicker baskets laden with containers offering a vegetarian sandwich or a salad option for only $10.

DSC06176 331x540 HOT: Hello Aubergine vegetarian lunch delivery

I’ve tried a zesty coconut rice salad with lychee, cashews, mint and coriander and a sturdy sandwich containing walnut and white bean pate, apple, carrot & cabbage slaw, fresh spinach and tangy aioli.

photo 6 540x361 HOT: Hello Aubergine vegetarian lunch delivery

Mostly I love Pippa’s culinary creativity in making her tasty meatless meals and the convenience of Hello Aubergine coming to my door. Plus the fact that Pippa runs her business by bike looking very cycle chic!

DSC06168 540x345 HOT: Hello Aubergine vegetarian lunch delivery

DSC06177 393x540 HOT: Hello Aubergine vegetarian lunch delivery

Hello Aubergine delivers $10 vegetarian lunches in Fitzroy and Collingwood on Thursdays. Lunch orders must be placed by 10am on Wednesdays. Call 0432 607 559 or email orders@helloaubergine.com.

Omnivores can also try Goldilocks Lunch Box delivery who deliver meat and vegetarian lunch options on Wednesdays.

 

HOT: Munsterhaus, 371 St Georges Rd, Fitzroy North

P1110107 539x540 HOT: Munsterhaus, 371 St Georges Rd, Fitzroy North

Apparently, the highest day for gym attendance is Monday. It makes sense – after a weekend of excess you wake up vowing that the beginning of a new week means the beginning of the new, healthier you.

I wonder if the same trend applies to vegetarian restaurants? Because certainly on my lunch visit to Munsterhaus the place was surprisingly full for a Monday.

P1110088 540x360 HOT: Munsterhaus, 371 St Georges Rd, Fitzroy North

It probably helps that the cafe is located in the gentrified hipster enclave of North Fitzroy, that the food is fresh and flavoursome, the portions are generous and the staff are friendly. The handsome interior is fitted out like a retro Art Deco cafeteria, with functional laminate topped wooden tables parked with classroom chairs, window seats for singles and an expanse of glassed-in wooden bench which showcases a smorgasbord of vegetarian and vegan dishes, mostly with Asian flavours.

P1110086 360x540 HOT: Munsterhaus, 371 St Georges Rd, Fitzroy North

You then select the plate size you want – small, medium, large – and the server will pile up your plate with as many items as you can cram in (one size takeaway is also available). Or you can choose to have a whole bowl of brussels sprouts if you like!

P1110079 540x450 HOT: Munsterhaus, 371 St Georges Rd, Fitzroy North

My choices included a too-dry brown rice slice, honey/soy/sesame tempeh crisps with broccoli, a mildy spicy chilli jam fried tofu, some quinoa salad, a chickpea, cucumber, spinach and feta salad which I’m going to try and replicate at home and my favourite, an Asian sweet potato noodle salad bouncing with peanuts, carrots, bean sprouts and shiitake. You can also select some home made dips to top off your plate and the waitress recommended the tofu dip which was similar to a cream cheese in flavour.

P1110093 540x302 HOT: Munsterhaus, 371 St Georges Rd, Fitzroy North

As you can see, even the $10 small plate/bowl is generously proportioned so I recommend that size unless you’re sharing with someone else. Fill your stomach with that much tofu, quinoa and brown rice, wash it down with help-yourself filtered water, and I guarantee that you’ll be rolling out the door.

P1110097 540x449 HOT: Munsterhaus, 371 St Georges Rd, Fitzroy North

However, in the name of research I also tried the poached pear and raspberry tart ($6) which came with a dollop of yoghurt or commercial vanilla icecream. There was a very faint hint of an undefinable spice which lifted it beyond a standard cake, and certainly after such a large slice I was ready to loosen my belt.

I’ll definitely return to Munsterhaus – can’t go wrong with a place that serves fresh, healthy food in whatever combination you like, in whatever quantities you like. For vegetarian/vegan food served with a similar concept, try The Tofu Shop International in Richmond.

Munsterhaus, 371 St Georges Rd, Fitzroy North +61 3 9489 4420
Mon-Thu 9am-4.30pm
Fri-Sat 9am-8pm


View MEL: HOT OR NOT in a larger map

minilink HOT: Munsterhaus, 371 St Georges Rd, Fitzroy North

 

NOT: Madame K’s Vegetarian, 327 Brunswick St, Fitzroy

P1090874 540x414 NOT: Madame Ks Vegetarian, 327 Brunswick St, Fitzroy

This is a post about the competition between a reigning champ vs the newcomer.

Madame K’s Vegetarian is a new vegetarian restaurant in Fitzroy with an Asian bent (Asian being anything from the Indian subcontinent to the Japanese archipelago). Unfortunately, it is situated almost across the road from Vegie Bar, a long-time Fitzroy favourite which is also a vegetarian restaurant with a strong Asian flavour.

Everyone likes to support the underdog. So even though Vegie Bar was spilling out customers onto its footpath tables, we entered the empty Madame K’s for lunch to give them a chance.

photo 3 373x540 NOT: Madame Ks Vegetarian, 327 Brunswick St, Fitzroy

The decor was quite lovely – dark wood furniture, a few porcelain and wooden knick knacks and a beautiful modern interpretation of a typically Chinese wallpaper. I was also enamoured of the large lights built from Thai basket fishing traps.

After standing uncertainly at the door for a bit we walked inside tentatively going ‘hello? hello? hello?’ until I spotted someone in the back of the kitchen. ‘Are you open?’ I said and instead of looking overjoyed at having a customer I received a sullen affirmative. Hmmm. Maybe I was interrupting her napkin-folding duties.

A and I perused the menu on starters, soups, salads and main meals and after waiting for a bit the waitress returned to take our order – Madame K’s pancakes ($11.90), Steamed wontons ($6.90) from the entrée menu and a Thai mushroom and eggplant salad ($14.90).

P1090876 540x387 NOT: Madame Ks Vegetarian, 327 Brunswick St, Fitzroy

The food was all presented well but fell flat in terms of taste. The pancakes were ok, thin wheaten wraps encasing mock soy duck with a drizzle of sweet sauce. The wontons were full of juicy mushrooms but encased in a too-thick skin and the morsels were lifted only by the kick of chilli in the soy sauce.

photo 2 540x403 NOT: Madame Ks Vegetarian, 327 Brunswick St, Fitzroy>

A described the salad as a bunch of chopped raw vegetables doused with that commercial sweet chilli sauce you see everywhere.

P1090879 540x478 NOT: Madame Ks Vegetarian, 327 Brunswick St, Fitzroy

Undeterred by our lacklustre choices and frankly, still hungry, I went to find the waitress (since she seemed to have no conception of table service) and ordered a black sticky rice dessert with coconut ice cream and lychees ($10.90). Again, full marks for presentation but nothing special when it came to taste. The sticky rice possibly wasn’t glutinous enough but I quite liked the grainy texture.

photo 4 389x540 NOT: Madame Ks Vegetarian, 327 Brunswick St, Fitzroy

While I try not to make direct comparisons when writing reviews it can’t be helped in this case. Madame K’s competitor is right across the road and it serves tastier, cheaper food in livelier surroundings. Reigning champ 1, newcomer 0.

Reliable vegetarian food blog Where’s the Beef seems to have had a better time, so maybe they chose better? For other vegetarian food options in Fitzroy, try Yong Green Food.

Madame K’s Vegetarian, 367 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy +61 3 9415 6909
Seven days 12pm-10pm (closed between 4pm-5pm)


View MEL: HOT OR NOT in a larger map

minilink NOT: Madame Ks Vegetarian, 327 Brunswick St, Fitzroy