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.
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).
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.
A described the salad as a bunch of chopped raw vegetables doused with that commercial sweet chilli sauce you see everywhere.
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.
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.
Madame K’s Vegetarian, 367 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy +61 3 9415 6909
Seven days 12pm-10pm (closed between 4pm-5pm)
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