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Thursday, September 03, 2015

Cornish Arms IV

August 23, 2015

We're well across the Cornish Arms' fatty vegan pub fare, but their parma specials are news to us. Vegan About Town reveals that these happen for Friday lunches and all day Sunday. Luckily we had just the Sunday lunch booked in to check 'em out.

The parma menu seems to change around (we didn't spot the poutine, pesto or pepperoni that Steph did) but there are guaranteed vegan options, and they're all $14 per plate. We skipped past the traditional version for the sake of research, but weren't feeling so adventurous as to order the satay-slathered Tasty Nuts parma.

Instead, Michael trialled the Cornholio. Unfortunately the veg version lacked any substitute for chilli beef, and was topped with just vegan sour cream and pickled jalapenos... pleasant, but not the saucy spicy extravaganza Michael had anticipated.

Rather, the saucy extravaganza was all mine in the Steamer - I could barely even make out the schnitzel under the streaky mock bacon, single bloated onion ring, and cascade of salty gravy. Deep, abiding gravy-love is a prerequisite for the Steamer, and I had just enough to make it through.

Given that their regular mains hover around the $20 mark, the parma specials are good value. We were also cheered to discover that a late Sunday lunch also coincides with pub trivia, and it's currently being hosted by our long-lost Grumpy Bastard host, Richard MacKenzie. Fun stuff for brains and bellies alike.


You can also read about one, two, three of our previous visits to the Cornish Arms. Since that last post, it's had positive coverage on veganfoodtour, frenchtoastandindiepop and Vegan About Town.

The Cornish Arms
163A Sydney Rd, Brunswick
9380 8383 

Accessibility: There's a ramped entryway and a pretty spacious interior. Lighting is low without being ludicrously dim. We ordered at our table and paid at a high bar. The toilets are on the same level and are wheelchair accessible.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Nutty crumbed cauliflower

August 22, 2015

Our vege deliveries have continued to send enormous cauliflower heads our way. We're not sick of them yet, calling on old recipes and trialling new ones with equal success. This is another new one, found on Vegan Richa. Richa coats flat fans of cauliflower in a besan batter, rolls them in a spiced almond meal crust and then bakes them until they're golden brown. Set against black plates with a sash of vegan cheese sauce, they look very fancy.

My rendition above is a little less elegant, but a firm success. The besan batter was smooth and easy to work with. I rapidly ran out of crumbing and made a second batch using roasted hazelnuts instead of almonds - they were a shade darker and deeper in flavour, and I've adjusted the quantities below to fit. If you're not fussy about presentation, there proved an even easier way to prepare these - I dropped the last cup of cauliflower florets into a baking dish, drizzled the remaining batter over and scattered them with crumbs, giving the florets a quick toss half-way through baking. They were just as tender and tasty and almost as crisp; we ended up eating them on sandwiches with mustard.

The larger, more presentable cauliflower slices were served with tartare sauce and roasted cherry tomatoes. I think they're at their best with a tart or pickley condiment.

Nutty crumbed cauliflower
(based on a recipe by Vegan Richa)

1 head cauliflower

1/3 cup besan
1/4 cup rice flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons nutritional yeast flakes
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
dash of black pepper
3/4 cup almond milk

1/2 cup ground almonds and/or hazelnuts
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon salt
spray oil

Preheat an oven to 200°C. Line two baking trays with paper.

Slice the cauliflower into 1cm-thick pieces, as broad as they can be. Keep and use any florets that break off too.

Prepare the batter in a large shallow bowl. Stir together the dry ingredients (besan through to pepper) and then whisk in the almond milk until smooth.

In a bowl, stir together the crumbing ingredients (except for the spray oil) and then spread them out on a plate.

Take a cauliflower slice and submerge it in the batter, ensuring that it's well covered. Allow the excess batter to drip off, and then place it in the crumbing, using your fingers to press crumbs evenly over the cauliflower's surface. Place the crumbed cauliflower piece on a baking tray and repeat with the remaining cauliflower. Spray all of the pieces with oil and bake them for 20-30 minutes, until they're tender inside and browned on the outside. Don't bother trying to turn them over mid-bake.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Transformer II

August 22, 2015

We've been intending to revisit Transformer for breakfast or lunch ever since our dinner visit way back in April. Somehow though we've failed, lazily opting for Wide Open Road or finding ourselves at Smith and Daughters instead. So it was with much enthusiasm that we join Steph, Hayley and a big vego crew for a breakfast meet-up early one Saturday morning. The space is just as impressive in the daytime as it was at night - lots of greenery, a beautiful high ceiling and a pretty relaxed vibe. It was surprisingly quiet, actually, given the shit-fight that breakfast in Fitzroy usually entails.

The menu is short - just six dishes, three of which are vegan or veganisable (half of the menu is GF as well). I went with the savoury Indian crumpet with toasted corn, avocado, cherry tomatoes, quinoa, eggplant chutney and coconut yoghurt ($18) but ruined its vegan-ness by taking up the optional poached egg added on top (+$3).

This is the kind of thing that Transformer does so well, with their slightly fancy and original take on vego food. The crumpet is thick and soft, perfect for slathering with chutney, avo, yoghurt or eggy goodness. There's a nice mix of textures and flavours (although the quinoa feels like a slightly pointless addition) and it's a decent sized dish, leaving me pretty stuffed.

Cindy inevitably chose the buckwheat and wild rice hotcakes, with coffee cacao ganache, mascarpone, date syrup and snap-dried mandarin ($18).

This was the visual highlight of the meal and there were strong arguments made around the table that a vegan version of this is a crucial addition to Transformer's menu. The hotcakes were thick and cakey - noticeably gluten-free, but not in a bad way. The trimmings were where things really went up a notch though - the dried mandarins adding tartness and crunch and the impossibly rich ganache making this a breakfast dessert to remember.

Transformer is a winning breakfast option in Fitzroy - it caters well to vegans and coeliacs, getting a table doesn't involve queuing, and the standard of food is high. Prices are similarly high, but I don't think anyone around the table was unimpressed by the price:quality ratio. Coffee is decent without being memorable, and the Barry White-heavy Saturday morning soundtrack was a great way to kick the weekend off. We'll be back.

There has been a steady stream of positive reviews since our first visit - see Gourmet Chick, What's My Scene?, EightHrs, Oh My Goodness, I'm So Hungree, The Baroness of Melbourne and Veganopoulous

99 Rose St, Fitzroy
9419 2022
breakfast menu

Accessibility: The entry is wide and with a shallow ramp. Tables are well spaced, a mix of mid-height tables with booths and backed chairs, plus higher tables with backless bar stools. There's full table service. The toilets are highly accessible - individual unisex cubicles with marked wheelchair and ambulent options.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Flora II

August 21, 2015

Melbourne makes late winter that little less bleak by scheduling in the Melbourne International  Film Festival and Writers Festival (and the Fringe Festival isn't trailing far behind!). We've been attending lots of events and sneaking in some CBD meals around them. Red Pepper and Shandong Mama are faves, Fonda saw us through one dinner and we've also returned to Flora Indian Restaurant, which we first blogged nine long years ago. Its Flinders St location is convenient to Fed Square, they're open 'til 10 or 11pm and they turn around food fast - all good qualities for a festival feed.

Flora is an experience with few frills - choose from flourescent-lit menu boards and pick up your own food, drinks and cutlery. There are no markings for special dietary requirements, although there are plenty of meat-free options. There's also abundant seating, and Bollywood clips to bop along to if you position yourself in view of the TV.

We picked out some mini lassis from the fridge ($3 each; rose on the left and mango on the right). They were thick and yoghurty smooth.

Michael requested an all-veg Large Combo Meal ($11.90) and was treated to three veg curries, daal, rice and a pappadum. They weren't super-spicy but did offer enough diversity, and Michael rapidly cleared his plate.

I grazed on the snacktacular Dosa Meal ($10.90), starting with a too-hot-to-handle steamed iddly, a room temperature sauce-soaked vada, and crunchy masala dosa square. There was even some soooooooper sweet kheer for dessert.

Judged on fast food terms, Flora excels with quick service, a comfortable setting, and a varied menu. We'll continue to rely on it when we've got tickets to something in the city.


You can read about our first visit to Flora here (9 years ago!). Since then, it's received a scattering of blog support. Footscray Food Blog, New International Students and A lost Indian in Melbourne love it, while The Ortolan's Last Meal and Asian Restaurants in Melbourne were reasonably satisfied with their experiences.

Flora Indian Restauran
238 Flinders St, Melbourne
9663 1212
menu 1, 2

Accessibility: The entry is wide and flat, and the tables are well spaced with flexibility to move them around yourself. We ordered, paid and picked up our food at low-ish counters, and helped ourselves to cutlery and water. We didn't visit the toilets.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


August 19, 2015

We needed a quick dinner before a show in the city on Wednesday night and decided to try out Fonda, tucked up the Parliament end of Flinders Lane. Fonda rode Melbourne's Mamasita-inspired Mexican wave and has since grown from its beginnings in Richmond to four locations across the city. The Flinders Lane one is massive - it was easy to grab a big table at 6pm, but things filled up as we ate and it was pretty hectic by the time we left.

The menu has a decent range of vego options, including a few veganisable dishes. There's a big drinks list too - frozen margaritas, cocktails, hip beers and a short wine list. They also do an array of non-boozy options, including Cindy's choice for the night: horchata ($6). It was a very sweet version of this rice-milk based beverage, but Cindy was happy with it nonetheless.

We started things off sharing around two kinds of chips: the crispy white and blue tortilla crisps with guacamole and pico de gallo ($9)...

and the crunch-cut potato chips with chipotle aoili ($).

Both were excellent, with generous and delicious condiments. The chipotle hot chips in particular were top notch - probably the best dish we had. Cindy ordered the portabello and shitake mushroom quesadilla, served with a fonda salsa ($15).

This was a pretty disappointing dish - the quesadilla fillings were pretty bland, with the mushroom and greens combo not really packing much punch. The salsa helped a lot, but on the whole this dish didn't really inspire (one of our dining companions had the same filling on tacos and was equally bummed out).

I ordered the black bean falafel, with shaved zucchini and cabbage, salsa, pickled carrot and onion and chipotle aioli ($15, this dish would be vegan if you cancelled the aioli I think).

This was much more successful - the falafel were great, and the fillings added some freshness to the burrito and the smokey salsa was great. A few dabs of hot sauce really topped things off. 

Our Fonda experience was pretty mixed - it's a lovely space and the staff were friendly and efficient, but the food was pretty mixed. If you order wisely you could have a wonderful meal, but the prices are high and the quality is varied. It's a handy spot for a quick city dinner, but there is no shortage of those around, so it's probably only worth the trip if you're hanging for something wrapped in a tortilla.



31 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
8686 7300
menu, drinks

Accessibility: Entry is up a staircase. Things are reasonably spacious inside, with a mix of low and high tables. You order and pay at a low counter, and they bring the food out to your table. One of our companions reported that the toilets are fully accessible, so perhaps there is also an alternative entry that we couldn't figure out.