HOT: Friends of the Earth, 312 Smith St, Collingwood

I’ve previously blogged about the fantastic range of dried goods and produce available at Friends of the Earth, but last week was the first time I sampled some of the vegan/vegetarian food served in the laidback cafe.

During the week you can get a mixed salad plate which has a bit of everything heaped on it, much like the selection offered at The Tofu Shop International in Richmond. However, on Sundays they do a pie and salad plate for $9.50 where you get to choose a hot-out-of-the-oven vegan pie – on my visit, a choice between a shiitake pie, curry pie, thai style pie and mexican pie – plus a heap of mixed salad as a side accompaniment.

After much discussion with the staff about which was the best pie, I settled on the shiitake pie – basically because it was described as ‘very meaty’ and because I’m a fan of mushrooms.

I defy anyone, vegetarian or carnivorous, to not be impressed by this pie.

The outstanding pastry, presumably made without eggs and butter, was light and flaky to the point of wispiness on the top. The filling contained mashed potato and what looked like hunks of braised beef – I’m never seen shiitake turned into mock meat before! It wasn’t overly ‘mushroomy’ in aroma and I actually considered taking it home to RM to see whether he could distinguish the ingredients, as he is a meat-eater and generally dislikes a dish comprising only mushrooms.

As for the salads, they were good but didn’t blow me away in the same way as the pie. They all tasted fresh and healthy, which is what I was aiming for.

I accompanied my meal with a pot of Byron Bay soy chai ($3.50) which I found to be a little watery as I like my chai thickly fragrant. It wasn’t bad, just not rave-worthy.

Unlike the pie! I cannot emphasise enough – go and check out Friends of the Earth on a Sunday. With the sun streaming through the windows, a friendly vibe and healthy food, it’s a great place to relax on a weekend.

For more healthy eats in the area (but not on Sundays) try Las Vegan.

Friends of the Earth Cafe on Urbanspoon

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11 thoughts on “HOT: Friends of the Earth, 312 Smith St, Collingwood

  1. Ooohh I love having the mixed plate lunch there! At least once every other week. It’s always so fresh and tasty and differs every time. I agree about the chai, but their organic coffees are delicious!

    • Hi Hexotica

      I’ve never actually had the mixed plate lunch there, but it seems very popular. In fact, the staff tell me that the people from the shop Organic Wholefoods (across the street) often go to have their lunch at Friends of the Earth, the competition! I do like how everything is freshly made for the day.

      Jetsetting Joyce

  2. The pies are from a Sydney company called Funky Pies. You can buy take-home ones from Organic Wholefoods, which is just across the road from FotE, and also from The Radical Grocery Store on Sydney Rd in Brunswick.

    I like FotE, but it’s a bit hit and miss, depending on who’s in the kitchen and what they’re making. I’ve had some bog ordinary curries some days, and some really excellent culinary creations on others.

    I usually ride past on a Saturday to see what’s cooking, then decide if I actually want it — there’s so much good vego (and omni) food within walking/riding distance, it has to be fairly good to win my $10.

    • Hi Ruth

      You really are a font of knowledge regarding vegetarian food in Melbourne! I’m a little disappointed the pies aren’t made on site but happy to hear that I can buy them myself from Organic Wholefoods. I think I am going to do the ‘is this mushroom or meat’ pie test on RM :–)

      Jetsetting Joyce

  3. Yeah, but they’re still Australian made by a small company, so they still gets my thumbs up.

    Apparently the East Brunswick Club — who have an extensive vegan pub food menu, including vegan parmas, fish and chips and philly cheese steak — also serves them.

    If you want a house-made vege pie, apart from the calzones at Las Vegan, there’s a vegan-friendly bakery in Preston run by the Grand Supreme Master cult called La Panella that do them. There’s also The Organic Food and Wine Deli in the city, but I’m not entirely sure if they make their own.

    FotE DO make their own pizzas some days (usually with a gluten-free base, I think, too), which are quite excellent.
    .-= Ruth´s last blog ..Who said all Americans were jerks? =-.

    • Hi Ruth

      Wow thanks for all the tips. I’ve had the pies at TOFWD before and they were not very good, the pastry was like cardboard (and even worse when they microwaved them) and certainly not flaky like Funky Pies. I’m intrigued by the concept of vegan parma and fish and chips…

      Jetsetting Joyce

      • Yeah, I agree — I’ve never cared much for TOFaWD, either. I find a lot of their food quite greasy and overpriced. And they don’t really sell much you can’t get around the corner at Habib’s Wholefoods, anyway.

        The La Panella pies (and sausage rolls) are also sold at the Lord of the Fries on the corner of Flinders and Elizabeth — but they’re not as gourmet as Funky Pies.

        • Habib’s Wholefoods? I can’t believe I’ve never been! Remember reading something about it yonks ago but will have to track it down as it’ll be close to my work.

          Thanks for the tip re La Panella pies – next time I’m craving fries in the city I’ll aim for their pies instead.

          Jetsetting Joyce

          • Well, if you’re a meat eater, there’s probably not really any point (unless you’re just curious) — they’re more your imitation meat style. I’m sure there are some really top-end schmancy meat-filled pies available in the CBD. Lord’s is all about the excellent fries. My favourite is the Poutine — it’s not often you find vegetarian gravy, unless you make it yourself. If you WERE to deviate (or supplement!) from their chip menu, however, I’d recommend sampling the brownies and cookies they sell from Nelly’s Vegan Bakery.

            Habib’s is a grocery store on Flinders St. It’s easy to miss, because it’s dwarfed a bit by the IGA next door. They sell lots of organic, vegetarian, vegan stuff — not a dissimilar range from Organic Wholefoods, but more extensive in the packaged and frozen food side of things, and less fresh stuff. They have a really good range of fancy and food-intolerance-friendly cereals and mueslis, and a big range of snack foods and bars catering to various dietary needs (raw, dairy-free, gluten-free, organic, etc).

            Some of the stuff is a little pricey, but because of the nature of the food, it also tends to have a very finite shelf life, so if you go in at the right time, you can get some really cheap stuff, too – especially from the bread and dairy sections. At the moment, they’re selling off Larabars (which are awesome raw fruit and nut bars from the States that are freaking tasty) really cheap.

            They also house a little cafe, which you can’t really tell from the front. They usually have at least six or so really good salads/cold vegetable and tofu or bean dishes, which you can mix and match, and pay for by the weight of your container. They also have vegie/bean/lentil patties, wraps, lasagnes, etc. It’s all vegetarian, and some stuff is vegan and some gluten free.

            They ALSO sell a really good range of cakes, muffins, cookies, etc, much of which is vegan and/or gluten free – and yesterday I noticed they’d just started selling slices of RAW vegan cake, too. If you’ve never tried raw-food cake or desserts, I definitely recommend giving it a shot.

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