Mister Nice Guy’s Bake Shop!

Mister Nice Guy - Outside
Mister Nice Guy
151 Union Rd
Ascot Vale
VIC 3032
AUSTRALIA

OK, guys. Get your bandwidth ready because I have quite a few photos here! Whittling this down to three or four wasn’t really an option – you’d be missing too much eye candy!

Mister Nice Guy - Inside

I loved the shop’s retro, kitschy fit out. I’m no stranger to lovin’ vintage and these guys had gone to some great lengths with detail – from the rounded 50s style fridge behind the counter to the pastel vintage cannisters up on the top shelf! This was right up there on my list of “things to marry”.

Betty White Cake
Betty White Cake (choc/coconut) – gluten free.

These guys make a point of having several gluten free options available daily, so celiacs don’t miss out! And I’m telling you from experience that you can’t tell by taste that the items are gluten free.

Rockin' Roller Cake
Rockin’ Roller Cake.

Sign
I didn’t realise these guys used organic ingredients! Yay!

Cinnamon Buns
Cinnamon buns – I really regret not buying one of these.

Mister Nice Guy - Cabinet 1
The cabinet where sugar comas are born! There’s some raw cupcakes on the bottom shelf… I regret not trying those, too.

Sampler
I bought a variety of things to share, but couldn’t get through it all. It’s been a while since I gorged on sweets – which is a good thing, really.

Red Velvet Cupcakes
Mini Red Velvet Cupcakes.

These were my favourite of the cupcakes I tried. They were adorable, bite-sized and the perfect little burst of creamy sweetness.

Beetlejuice Cupcakes (Cookies & Cream)
Mini Beetlejuice Cupcakes (cookies & cream).

These were also really delicious, but the name is a little misleading. Turns out “Beetlejuice” flavour is actually cookies and cream, not liquorice! I think I would have prefered a chocolate cupcake as opposed to the vanilla and the icing was a little grainy which I suspect was from the cookies, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t eat them again!

Pebbles Cupcake
Pebbles Cupcake (raspberry & white chocolate) – gluten free.

SO GOOD. The cupcake was light, fluffy and not as all recognisable as “gluten free”. Loved these.

Pecan Pie
Pecan Pie.

This tasted a lot better than it looks, though sadly, I probably wouldn’t buy this again. It has sultanas in it, which ruined it for me. Without the sultanas, I’d love it a whole lot more, but I understand that not everyone would feel that way. If you dig sultanas, grab a slice!

Baked NY Cheesecake
Baked NY Cheesecake/Cheezecake.

This was a hundred times more impressive than I was expecting! It was so smooth and creamy and, well, cheesecake-like! Both non-vegans that I shared it with agreed that it was very much like the real deal. I’d love to see Mister Nice Guy make more cheesecake flavours – they’ve executed the concept beautifully.

Banoffee Pie
Banoffee Pie – gluten free. Photo courtesy of Mister Nice Guy (my photo was hideous!).

I’ve saved the best for last! This dessert has single handedly raised the vegan-sweets-bar for me. If I had a third thumb, I’d give it three thumbs up. The whipped centre melts in your mouth, the banana is there without being over powering and the decadent caramel is set off in your mouth by chunks of salt. It’s literally one of the most divine things I’ve ever eaten – if you go to Mister Nice Guy’s for one thing, let it be this. Or the cheesecake. But mostly this.

Mister Nice Guy - Business Cards

There’s a good variety of both hot and cold drinks on offer, which didn’t even make it into the equation for me because I took my desserts away to eat at a friend’s house – but I’d be keen to hang around for a coffee next time. The staff were so lovely, I must have spent 10-15 minutes in there just having a chat. If you like them on Facebook, you can get updates of what’s available in the bake shop – the menu changes daily. I made a not-so-subtle suggestion that something peanut-buttery should always be there because it was the only thing that disappointed me during my visit!

Mister Nice Guy's Bakeshop on Urbanspoon

Shebelle: Ethiopian & Moroccan Restaurant, Café & Bar

African is the new Mexican. Well… For me, at least.

Shebelle 1
Shebelle
241 Barkly St
Footscray, VIC 3011
AUSTRALIA
Ph: (03) 9689 8188

Shebelle 2

Although they share a continent, Ethiopia and Morocco aren’t exactly close in proximity. Their cuisine, however, pairs up pretty fantastically. Shebelle is just up the street from Lentil As Anything; look for the numbers on the shops, because the signage doesn’t stand out when you’re driving past.

Shebelle 3

The restaurant was quiet when we arrived, but we were quickly greeted by a charming African man who was both the owner, chef and waiter. That’s right, guys. It was a one-man operation – and an impressive one at that. So if you sit down and aren’t served immediately, try to be patient because he’s juggling a few jobs at once. Later when more people arrived, there was also a friendly woman helping out who was very modest when we showered the food with praise.

In regards to ordering vegan, I noticed “clarified butter” listed with some of the dishes, so I asked the owner about this and he raised his arms and said “I’m the chef, I’ll cook it however you like!” (seriously, this guy has such a happy, relaxed attitude, he’s great), so I just asked for all the veg dishes to be cooked with oil instead of butter. You might want to do the same if you’re vegan/can’t have dairy.

Shebelle 4
Injera

For those of you who’ve never had injera, it’s like the amazing love child of pancakes (flapjacks) and sourdough bread – and it’s both gluten free and vegan! Traditional injera is simply teff flour, water and salt. Teff flour is made from the milled seed of teff grass (native to Ethiopia) – it’s not a grain.

Shebelle 5
Injera – close up

Check out that sexy, spongy goodness! This didn’t come with anything we ordered, so we asked for it as an extra on the side, and I’m glad we did.

Shebelle 9
Guacamole served with a basket of pita crisps (basket not pictured)

This was a Moroccan style guacamole that had tahini stirred through it. The owner gave me a big grin when I ordered it and said “you won’t like it” and asked me if I knew what tahini was. We both laughed and I insisted on trying it, because I love a bit of food-adventure. Turns out, this was so freakin’ great. Jasmine (who I’d brought to the restaurant with me for her birthday) couldn’t get enough of it – she was full and STILL TRYING TO FIND ROOM TO KEEP EATING THIS. I can’t believe I never thought to mix tahini into my guacamole; what brilliance.

Shebelle 6
Shebelle Special

The description in the menu said “combination veggies and Ethiopian salad” – I didn’t immediately identify any part of this as being “salad” but didn’t care because it was all delicious! Clockwise from the top left was: mashed split peas, beetroot, greens and an unidentified legume. The mashed split peas and beetroot were subtly spiced, the greens were fairly straight forward (which I loved, because greens are great just as they are!) and the other legume dish was a little heavier in flavour, which I think was predominantly cinnamon and chili (?). I ordered this mild for my dinner guest but I think when I go back with Mr. AA, I’ll ask for it hot!

The greens and split peas were my favourites, while the beetroot was Jasmine’s favourite.

Shebelle 8
Moroccan Eggplant

I don’t know how I can explain how much I loved this dish without sounding like a dirty food-perv. I pretty much creamed my knickers with the first bite. The eggplant had been left in tact at the top and sliced through (see photo below) which I thought was a pretty special touch and the tomato based sauce had a variety of veggies in it, including my favourite: broccoli. It was firm but not crunchy, total perfection in my opinion. Nothing makes me sadder than people over cooking broccoli.

The fresh herbs on top were a tasty, bright addition to this dish… As I write about it, I’m seriously sad that I’m not eating it again right now.

Shebelle 7

All of this plus a non-vegan dish (not pictured) cost only $50. I gave them a 20% tip and still didn’t feel like I’d paid enough for this amazing experience.

Shebelle Ethiopian Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Brown Grain Thai Restaurant

Brown Grain 1
Brown Grain
190 Timor St
Warrnambool
VIC 3280
AUSTRALIA
P: 03 5562 2576

We walked past Brown Grain on a hot day and swiped a take away menu from out front, later deciding it would be a good place to visit. Whilst Brown Grain are very willing to meet your dietary requirements as a vegan, there was a bit of a language barrier between me and the staff so I later submitted additional menu questions in writing to get confirmation of all the info I was seeking for my readers. Definitely visit this restaurant – but not without being armed with the info in this post!

Edit: I have been informed that Brown Grain have a separate gluten free menu. Sadly I didn’t get the opportunity to view it, so I can’t speak for what may or may not be suitable for vegans on it.

The restaurant was buzzing and is obviously popular with the locals. The decor was warm and inviting, though the chairs were hard and uncomfortable. We found the service to be absolutely stellar during the rush, but when it died down, I struggled to make eye contact with any of the wait staff and felt a little disgruntled by having to walk up to the counter twice only to be greeted by staff chatting amongst each other with their backs to me both times.

Brown Grain 2
#21, Larb Tofu

If you go for anything on the menu that’s a salad, request “no fish sauce” because all the dressings contain fish sauce; Brown Grain will be happy to subsitute soy sauce for you. I’ll be honest – I wasn’t a huge fan of this dish. I think it might have been the pounded rice that was stuck to the tofu; it was gritty and horrible, like when you haven’t washed your salad greens properly. I also found the tofu to be a little too soft/silken and “eggy”, and I’m quite sure that the dressing was tossed with lemon juice, not lime, which is what the menu specified.

Brown Grain 3
Satay Tofu with Salad (on request – this was basically a “special meal” I made up from what I could see on the menu)

THIS. WAS. BRILLIANT. I loved it! I was a bit tofu-ed out by the end of it, but it was soooo good. The satay was thick and dreamy, and not too sweet.

We really wanted to sample some dessert from the menu, but both vegan options had sold out for the night. SADFACE. Even Mr. AA was disappointed – and he’s not big on desserts. The vegan options were: sweet pumpkin in coconut milk or banana in coconut milk. We weren’t willing to be defeated though, so we ordered this:

Brown Grain 4
Black Sticky Rice

FYI, the item on top is a coconut custard and it is NOT VEGAN. So if you order this, ask for no custard. I do recommend ordering it – I sampled spoonfuls of black sticky rice and syrup (that weren’t touching the custard, of course!) and it was divine.

Below are some menu photos and tips for ordering that I wish I’d known before visiting. If you can, give Brown Grain a heads up about your visit – they have now had to deal with me, so they’re prepared for anything! (Ha.)

Brown Grain 6

  • #6 Golden Tofu: Vegan.
  • Soups: can be made vegan on request, ask for no fish sauce (they will use soy sauce instead). The soups do not contain any shrimp paste.
  • #21 Larb Tofu: can be made vegan on request, ask for no fish sauce (dressing will be made with soy sauce instead).

Brown Grain 7

  • #26 Green Salad: can be made vegan on request, ask for no fish sauce (dressing will be made with soy sauce instead).
  • Curries: all pastes are vegan (do not contain shrimp paste). Simply order the “vegetables and tofu” option.
  • Stir Fries: most are made with an oyster sauce base, but can be made vegan on request. Ask for no oyster sauce (stir fry will be made with soy sauce instead).

Brown Grain 5

  • The noodle section is a little harder to navigate. To be sure, specify no oyster sauce, fish sauce, eggs or egg noodles.

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Clovelly Restaurant

Clovelly 1
Clovelly Restaurant
Best Western / Olde Maritime Motor Inn
Corner of Banyan Street & Merri Street
Warrnambool, VIC 3280
AUSTRALIA
Ph: 03 5561 1415

When Mr. AA told me that he’d booked us a spa room here, I was ecstatic – but a quick Google for veg food options left me a bit worried. As it turns out, Warnambool is a little more veg-friendly than the internet led me to believe. I contacted the hotel more than a week in advance and explained my dietary requirements, hoping they could help me out – and they kindly obliged. Just in case you’re wondering, you don’t need to be a hotel guest to eat here.

Clovelly 2

If you’re up for a fine dining experience, I can definitely recommend coming here. Mr. AA & I are fairly casual people, so when the waitress called him “sir”, I just about choked on my water! You’re treated with the utmost respect when you’re a guest at Clovelly. The décor is clean, simple and understated and the staff are friendly, professional and can confidently recite the day’s specials to you.

The only vegan options on the menu are the side dishes: steamed veg, garden salad & sweet potato fries. There’s spinach and ricotta canneloni on the menu for those of you who are vegetarian and still eat dairy and eggs. I humbly told the hotel that I’d be happy to have a main-sized serve of the side dishes (chips & salad) and was pleasantly surprised when I received this on the first night!

Veg Stack

Normally when it comes to vegetable stacks, I freak out a little over how oily they are. They alwaysalwaysalways need something acidic to cut through the weight of the oil and freshen the meal up a bit. In most cases, even a simple lemon wedge will do – in this case, the chef dotted the stack with warm semi-dried tomatoes. The tomato juice bursted in my mouth and undoutbedly “made” the dish. The sweet potato fries were perfectly crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside making them a great guilty pleasure, and the salad was good but nothing to rave about. All in all, I was really pleased with this; I honestly never thought I could feel so full from eating a plate of veggies! The variety buried in there was decent… Somewhere in there was eggplant, zucchini, carrot, capsicum, radishes and squash.

I was kindly invited back for dinner the following night for another [different] vegan meal and I accepted!

Fijian Curry
Fijian Curry

This was a Fijian curry – something I’d never had before. If you’ve never had one either, it comes fairly close to a Malay style curry in flavour. Again, I was surprised with an impressive varriety of veg: onion, eggplant, zucchini, carrot, red and green capsicum & celery. The eggplant was the stand-out vegetable here and the sauce, while seeming mild to my mouth, actually caused my nose to run. I love a good curry and after this experience, Fijian cuisine is something I’d like to explore a little more.

Clovelly 3

A shout-out and huge thank you to Jonathon & staff for going above and beyond what was requested and expected. It was so nice to feel warmly welcomed and catered to!

If you’re a vegan and thinking of heading here, I highly recommend it – just make sure you give plenty of notice as a courtesy.

For the non-vegans, apparently the seafood platter is amazing – Mr. AA loved it so much that he ate it two nights in a row!

Fishtales Café

Fishtales 1
Fishtales Café
63 Liebig Street
Warrnambool, VIC 3280
AUSTRALIA

Fishtales 2

With a name like Fishtales, in a regional town on the coast, my assumption was that this might be a fish n chips experience so I planned to bypass it — until I saw this chalk board out the front!

Fishtales 3

The interior was brightly painted and bustling. The wait staff are on the ball and the meals come out quickly – these guys don’t waste any time! There’s a courtyard out the back but on a hot day, the thick walls keep the inside a little cooler, despite the lack of fans/air conditioning.

Fishtales Veg Burgers

This was undoubtedly the most overwhelming menu I’ve ever had to deal with – at six pages long, I really didn’t know what to do and I was admittedly already a little delirious from the 40C heat. There wasn’t a page dedicated to vegetarian options, it was instead spread out like this: an all day breakfast menu, a fish & chips menu, a burger menu, a drinks menu and so on. I had to scan the pages to see what was available to me (more menu photos below) – the vegan options aren’t marked in any way, so just a note to anyone not very savvy when it comes to ordering vegan options… If the vegetarian item contains aioli or pesto, ask for your meal without these.

Fishtales 5
Love Potion No.9 Juice – OJ, Apple, Beetroot & Strawberry

Fishtales 4
Summer Cooler Juice – Watermelon, Apple & Mint

The juices were delicious and thirst quenching, but served at room temperature, which was pretty warm. Thankfully they were happy to provide us with a cup of ice on request!

Fishtales 7
Tofu Burger

When I saw the wholemeal bun, I already felt like I was winning. From bottom to top was: hommus, carrot/red capsicum/bean shoots, tofu, sweet chili sauce, tomato & mixed lettuce. The tofu was obviously of high quality and not over cooked – it had a really nice dense but fluffy texture. Simple but delicious, I’d definitely eat this again and could even make it at home!

Fishtales 6
Chilli Chips

Ok… So I have a bit of a weakness for chips/fries. I didn’t ask any questions about these when ordering (stupid) but thought I better clear it up with them afterwards, just to be sure. On the up side, the chips are vegan/don’t contain any animal fat. On the down side, they share a fryer with seafood. Whether you decide to eat these or not is totally up to your discretion – they taste great, but knowing what I know now, I probably wouldn’t order them again. It just feels a little… Gross. I don’t regret trying them though and I won’t judge you if you decide to have a taste!

Below are some menu photos for your to browse – there was an entire page of international cuisine (curries/stir fries) that I bypassed completely because of the weather, but I know there was some suitable options there too, I just forgot to photograph them. It didn’t appear that any of the sweets on offer in the display cabinet were vegan, but I wasn’t too disappointed by that.

If we were in town longer, I’d love to try a few more things on the menu – we might just have to pencil in another trip for this purpose (no, I’m not joking – there’s also an Indian restaurant and a handful of Thai restaurants in town that I won’t have a chance to check out, sadly!).

Fishtales Breakfast

Fishtales Other Veg Options

Fishtales Focaccias

Fishtales Juice 1

Fishtales Juice 2

Fishtales Cafe on Urbanspoon

Cactus Jam

Cactus Jam 1
Cactus Jam
50 Liebig Street
Warrnambool
VIC 3280
AUSTRALIA

Mr. AA was kind enough to book us a short holiday in Warrnambool – his ulterior motive was a sci-fi exhibition at the local art gallery, which he made up for by booking us a room with a spa (ha!). Both Google and Happy Cow left me feeling fairly nervous about my food options, but thankfully the strip of restaurants a block from our hotel wasn’t quite as dismal as I expected.

Cactus Jam 2

We stopped in at Cactus Jam for lunch today. All signs on Google point to this being a Taco Bill restaurant, but it’s not. From what I can gather, it used to be (?). It’s fairly big inside and I’m pretty sure they need the space because when we walked past last night, it was busy.

Cactus Jam 3

Upon arrival we were greeted and seated with a trusty bowl of corn chips and salsa. These chips were really thin and crispy – definitely not the standard supermarket variety. I’m glad the bowl was small, because I could have easily filled up on them!

Cactus Jam 4
Vegetarian tostada without dairy – $9.90

It’s slim pickings for vegetarians, with only two options for lunch and just a few more for dinner. The nachos wouldn’t be the same without cheese and sour cream (or some kind of vegan substitute for them), plus I was in the mood for beans – so I ordered the tostada without dairy. It’s served on a corn tortilla, so it’s gluten free. Tortilla types aren’t specified on the menu, so you’re best off asking the wait staff about this – Mr. AA’s fajita was served with a flour tortilla.

Taste-wise, it was exactly what you’d expect and what you see is what you get. The only thing it really needed was some spice/heat in the pinto beans. They were fairly plain, so if you’re not already a bean lover, you might find yourself sorely disappointed. On the up side, Mr. AA was impressed with the fajita and the service was perfect. The girls were there when we needed them without us having to look around for their attention and they didn’t linger or pester us.

Cactus Jam 5

Cactus Jam is a licensed venue, so there’s a fairly good drinks menu – including Mexican beers and an impressive variety of margaritas! I ordered the mango and Mr. AA ordered the lime.

Cactus Jam 6
Mango Margarita.

It was about 36C outside when we stopped for lunch and this drink was SO PERFECT. It was ice-cold and smooth; we agreed that these were far too easy to drink so make sure you walk here, don’t drive. You’ll want to sample as many flavours as possible. Both the mango and lime were excellent.

Taco Bill Mexican Restaurant Warrnambool on Urbanspoon

OM Vegetarian

OM Veg sign

OM Vegetarian
Level 1, 28 Elizabeth St
Melbourne, VIC 3000

Open: 11am – 9pm, 7 days a week. This place is a few doors down from Lord of the Fries, you’ll see that yellow sign hanging outside.

OM Veg Inside

OM Vegetarian is in a quiet, relaxed room above the bustling Melbourne CBD. While not a Krishna establishment, it holds the same peaceful values: meditation, spirituality, charity, simplicity. None of this is pushed into your face, however there’s some flyers on the window sills which you can help yourself to if you feel so inclined.

OM Veg meal

The offerings are fairly basic – two curries, rice, something pickled and naan bread. You can go back for as many helpings as you like for a mere $6.50! The food is earthy and comforting – definitely in the “soul food” category. When I visited, I was lucky enough that both curries on offer were vegan, though I’m not sure if this is always the case. On the up side, they knew what vegan meant when I asked about the menu – so it was nice to skip the painful step of having to explain it.

We had an aloo ghobi (potato & cauliflower) curry and a kidney & mung bean curry. Both really blew me away – they were outstanding for what they were. How is it, that no matter how tasty my home made curries are, they’re never *this great*? I’m sure India is keeping a secret ingredient from me.

The naan bread was incredible – the one on offer had butter on it, but they’ll serve you vegan naan on request. I was even offered seconds and couldn’t resist. It was the softest, fluffiest, dreamy-cloud-like naan I’ve ever eaten and I’d go back for that alone.

The pickled chili wasn’t really my thing, so I left most of it on my plate. It was far too sour for me, but Mr. AA suggested eating it with some naan, which helped mute the flavour a little.

For an extra $2, you can buy a glass of lassi (not vegan), bottled water or soft drink. There was also a couple of other items in the bain marie that I didn’t ask about simply because I was too full – samosas and gulab jaman.

OM Veg Training

The whole time I was sitting in there, I kept wondering how on earth they can afford their rent when they only charge $6.50 for all-you-can-eat meals… then on the way out, we saw this sign next to the elevator and a sign over the kitchen door that said “training kitchen”. After realising that the meals were cooked by people in training/not yet qualified, my experience felt a little more impressive.

Cindy & Michael from where’s the beef? have also been here and posted some photos and a small write up – it looks as though they were as impressed by the naan as I was!

Grumpy’s Green

Firstly: Happy international day of the nacho, y’all! Not only is it world nacho day, but Melbourne is also celebrating Mexico’s “Day of the Dead” festival – for a week. Click here for info on events.

Today I went on a mission for Mexican food. Radio Mexico wasn’t opening until 4pm (I was only in town for lunch) and Trippy Taco had crowds of people wandering in, despite there being no tables available – so Mr. AA & I went for a little wander and ended up eating at Grumpy’s Green – a vegetarian, eco-friendly lounge/bar.

Seating Area
Grumpy’s Green
125 Smith Street
Fitzroy VIC 3065
AUSTRALIA
Ph: (03) 9416 1944

Don’t let the name put you off – these guys aren’t grumpy at all. In fact, they’re pretty upbeat. The main bar/lounge/band area is dimly lit – which I imagine is great in the evenings, but it’s a little hard on the eyes during the day – So Mr. AA and I walked through the naturally lit dining area (pictured above) into a small, four-table intimate court yard.

Menu
The menu isn’t big or even largely varied (from memory, about a quarter of it was dedicated to pizza options), but it was all tempting. We actually ate here quite some time ago with a few very hungover friends (in my pre-blogging days) and liked the food, but the menu has changed since then. I was very adamant about eating Mexican food today, so our order was a no-brainer.

Nachos
Nachos.

Mr. AA ordered the nachos, which were an impressive man-sized meal (this would easily feed 2 females!). Thankfully we were warned about the size of the meal and Mr. AA was discouraged from ordering a side dish to go with them. The cheese and sour cream on these are made from dairy; there isn’t a vegan subsitute, so the vegan version omits these ingredients. We were both impressed by the fresh ingredients piled onto this dish – the tomatoes and coriander were a great alternative to the sugary salsa from a jar that some restaurants try to pass off as authentic!

The guacamole was something both Mr. AA and I commented on to each other – it was delicious! Smooth, creamy and not too sour. It was strangely understated but really stood out.

Quesadillas (without the queso)
Quesadillas (without the queso!).

These were superb, even though they’re nothing like a traditional quesadilla! I was up for a lighter meal and the quesadillas with salad sounded perfect. I asked for them without dairy (vegan) because the regular option on the menu contains cheese. The filling was mainly black beans in a tomato sauce with a bit of tempeh, carrot and onion dotted through it. The flavours were fairly simple but worked well with the crispy tortillas, salsa and guacamole. The side salad was nice and had the dressing massaged into the greens, so there wasn’t a pool of it spreading across the plate. This is a huge plus – a lot of restaurants don’t do this and it’s definitely a hinderance – especially when salad dressing spreads and turns something crispy into something soggy!

There was a small hiccup during our visit that I feel I should mention in the interest of being completely honest in my review. Both mine and another person’s order had accidentally been made with dairy – however neither of the meals were served to us. Instead, the waiter offered a sincere apology and our meals were very quickly re-made. The girl behind me was clearly irritated in a strange bubbly way, however I wasn’t too worried. I’d much rather wait a little longer for a meal that’s right than be served the wrong thing.

I’d defintely eat here again and if I was local, I’d be keen to grab a beer and watch some bands in the evening – the place really has a great feel to it that I can’t describe with words. The menu is vegetarian and most (if not all) items can be made vegan. There’s some gluten free options and the venue has a great attitude both towards its customers and the environment.

Las Vegan Bakery/Café

Las Vegan Bakery/Café in Melbourne

Las Vegan Bakery/Café
22 Smith St
Collingwood
VIC 3066
AUSTRALIA
Ph: (03) 9415 9001

Upon entering Las Vegan, it was apparent to me that my anxiety levels were quickly rising, so Mr. AA & I opted for a table outside, even though the weather was a little questionable. The space is small and cramped with badly arranged furniture that makes you feel like an intrusion. I didn’t take any photos inside because it felt too awkward, but there’s potential for the space to feel a lot more comfortable, it just needs some attention. Thankfully, our waiter was kind and relaxed, and after looking at the menu, I could see these guys had a sense of humour.

Las Vegan Bakery/Café in Melbourne

Everything on the menu is reasonably priced, though I’m not sure much of it would appeal to a non-vegan. There was a few mock meat & fish options, lentil options and black bean options. The specials of the day were eggplant parmas and lasagne – both were tempting! However Mr. AA & I were both drawn to the same item on the menu: the mushroom mince.

Las Vegan Bakery/Café in Melbourne

Mr. AA chose the sloppy joe burger with chips and I chose the mince on rice with salad. The mis-matched plates amused me… I’m not sure if this was an attempt at being kitschy or a symbol of their firm hippy/recycling beliefs. Either way, I didn’t have a problem with it – it made me feel like I was eating food made with love in someone’s home.

Las Vegan Bakery/Café in Melbourne
Las Vegan Sloppy Joe Burger with mushroom mince.

Las Vegan Bakery/Café in Melbourne
Mushroom mince on rice with gourmet salad.

We were both big fans of the mince – it has a really good, mild flavour and a realistic texture. Admittedly, I was expecting a higher mushroom to TVP ratio – in fact, I was hoping for no TVP at all because I don’t really dig it, but in this case, there’s no question about making an exception. It was pretty damn tasty. Also – two thumbs up for serving this with brown rice, not white.

The “gourmet salad” was fairly plain and barely dressed, but I liked the grilled eggplant and capsicum in it and I honestly prefer salad to be under dressed as opposed to over dressed and soggy. My only complaint here is that the olives weren’t pitted, so I almost broke a tooth! Watch out for those little suckers.

Las Vegan Bakery/Café in Melbourne

The chips were… pretty amazing. Perfectly crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside – they’re exactly what Mr. AA & I look for in a chip!

We (*I*) also grabbed a slice of the raw lemon cheesecake to take home. There were Mr Nice Guy cupcakes on display and a dense looking chocolate bundt cake with icing dribbling all over the place (which looked delicious!) but I wanted to take a chance and try something that I’d only ever made at home, to see how someone else’s version compared.

Las Vegan Bakery/Café in Melbourne
Raw Lemon Cheesecake.

This was, hands down, my favourite item. I took it back to the car with the SOLE intention of sliding it out of the bag and taking photos before the agave spread out and looked ugly/messy. My stomach was full and I planned to save it for after dinner that night, but… Well, look at it, guys. I couldn’t resist having a little taste and before I knew it, I’d stuffed the entire slab of compressed nuts into my face and my hands were sticky with agave. But I didn’t care. Because it was incredible.

These guys do take-away and have gluten free options. One thing I didn’t take a photo of (and wished I had) was the glasses of juice we ordered. It wasn’t fresh juice, but I suspect it was organic and the size of the glasses was impressive. You know how most places serve a $7 juice in a slim high ball glass with lots of ice? Not these guys. They’ll give you your money’s worth!

Brewhouse Coffee Roasters

Brewhouse 1
Brewhouse
7 Eve Court (access via Abel St, not Breen St!)
Golden Square, VIC
AUSTRALIA
Ph: (03) 5442 8232

This venue looks great and I’m annoyed that I didn’t take any photos of it for you all! It’s in the heart of an industrial area and is inside a big shed. The counter & kitchen are tucked inside a shipping container with doors & windows cut out. Outside the barrista station hangs four giant industrial lamps; throughout the rest of the shed, light globes hang with rolled up paddock-style wire fencing wrapped around them as makeshift light shades. The tables are long, wooden and rustic looking and they’re paired with metal chairs.

Brewhouse cappuccino
Brewhouse cappuccino.

The coffee at Brewhouse is absolutely terrific. It’s strong and creamy; absolutely top notch and some of the best available in Bendigo. Fortunately, you can purchase a variety of their roasted beans to take home. I highly recommend them!

Brewhouse menu

The menu, however, is sorely disappointing – especially if you’re a vegan. There’s one vegetarian option (a turkish roll with grilled veggies) which I suppose you could order, but you’d have to ask for it without the haloumi and make some changes to the salad or omit it altogether. This option was pretty boring to me, so I started asking lots of questions (though evidently, I didn’t ask enough). On the specials board, there was a veggo breakfast advertised with your choice of four toppings. Unfortuantely, the base of this breakfast is 2 eggs on 2 pieces of toast. So, I decided to try another approach – maybe I could make my own meal out of several of the sides.

Brewhouse meal
Chips, avocado & braised beans.

I asked about the chips – they’re vegan, but they’re also pre-packaged and frozen, with more ingredients than a deep fried potato should have (and let’s face it – if I wanted frozen chips, I could get them a lot cheaper at the supermarket). I was really disappointed by this, as I was all geared up for some special, hand cut chips – but I ordered them anyway, since my choices were already severely limited. I also tried to cut these guys some slack, considering the size of their kitchen and staff.

In addition, I ordered the braised beans (which were nice, but not amazing), some avocado and the side salad. I specifically asked if the side salad was a “standard garden salad” and was told “yes”. No. No, it definitely wasn’t. What appeared on my plate was a Greek salad (with feta in it), drizzled with a honey/mustard/mayo dressing. There was at least three ingredients in it that I couldn’t eat, so I sadly scraped it off onto Mr. AA’s plate and ate the epic portion of carbohydrates pictured above while sulking. I left feeling heavy and annoyed.

In most cases, I expect to have issues when eating out. I try not to judge menus based on my dietary requirements because let’s face it – the word “vegan” is foreign to A LOT of people and I’m not in denial of that. I’m understanding. But in this case, I was especially disappointed because I’d been in touch with these guys earlier this year to express my excitement and enouragement about their kitchen opening. I’d made a point of introducing myself and said I’d come back to review their venue when the kitchen had opened/settled and hoped that they’d make a vegan option available on the menu. Sadly, this didn’t happen.

If you need a vegan meal, don’t bother. But if you want a fabulous coffee, you’re in the right place.

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