A meat eater’s guide to vegetarian Melbourne

By WENDY HARGREAVES

As a card-carrying meat eater, I have an admission to make. Melbourne’s obsession with plant based dining is finally winning me over.

I won’t give up my omnivorous ways (check out my guide to Melbourne’s perfect steak) but I have to admit to enjoying this huge wave of plant based dining. It just means you get to enjoy veggies in new and interesting ways, and Melbourne chefs are doing great things.

So here is my meat eater’s guide to plant based dining in our fair city.

  1. Carringbush Hotel

    1. Carringbush Hotel
    2. 226-228 Langridge St, Abbotsford, 03 9191 0149
    3. A former haunt of the Collingwood cheer squad, the ‘Bush had a massive face lift last year and is now a 100% vegetarian pub – even the 21 beers on tap. It’s also a friendly meeting place for Abbotsford locals, where I recently sat at the bar with my laptop nursing a pot of pale ale on a Friday afternoon after a delicious lunch. Head chef Roxanne Olsen makes bar food magic with veggies, like beer-battered cauliflower, house-cured pickles, soba noodles, awesome hot chips  and chilli “non” carne with chipotle cornbread.
  2. Smith + Deli

    1. 111 Moor St, Fitzroy, (03) 9042 4117
    2. This is a New York-style vegan diner with attitude. The offspring of Brunswick Street’s Smith and Daughters is creating fresh homemade mozzarella, meatballs, pastrami, turkey and baked pastries using tricky combinations of soy proteins, mushrooms, vegetable suet, wheat protein and other veggo ingredients. They also do lunch boxes and take home dinners, with glass cabinets filled with tasty options.
  3. Grill’d

    1. Outlets across Victoria
    2. The ubiquitous Melbourne burger chain Grill’d is doing a brisk business in the faux-meat “Amazing Vegan Cheeseburger” and the straight veggo “Hemp Therapea”, made with hemp seeds, peas and mint, all served with a side of zucchini chips with vegan mayo.
  4. Shandong Mama

    1. Mid City Arcade, Shop 7, 200 Bourke St, Melbourne, 03 9650 3818
    2. More like a little shopping centre canteen than a restaurant, Shandong Mama bats up super fresh dumplings for vegans and carnivores. Try the handmade zucchini dumplings, pan-fried to perfection and stuffed with tofu, zucchini and mushroom (and perfect with a dash of chilli and soy sauce).
  5. Babu Ji

    1. 4-6 Grey St, St Kilda, 
    2. Two words. Vegan night. Every Tuesday from 5.30-9.30pm, St Kilda’s tastiest Indian restaurant offers all-you-can-eat vegan dishes (three curries and rice) for $25 a year.  While you’re there, the order the pani puri, an Indian street food classic of fired puff-pastry balls filled with mashed potato, chickpeas and a flavour-bomb spice.

 

 

 

 

 

Mankoushe

323 Lygon St, Brunswick

Run and owned by two self-proclaimed hipsters, this Brunswick favourite churns out home-style Middle Eastern food straight from the garden. Mankoushe first opened as a bakery, milling Victorian wheat on site to turn out spinach and feta pastries, its cult-status haloumi pies and vegetarian ‘pizzas’ before it took over the space next door and encouraged sit-down banquets. Dinner isn’t always strictly vegetarian, but all-vegan dinners can be organised on the spot. Hit an ATM before heading in; this eatery is cash only.

Transformer

It’s a proper restaurant with gorgeous presentation…

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A meat eater’s guide to vegetarian Melbourne