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

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.

Jerry’s Vegifix

Mr. AA & I spent our 6 year anniversary weekend away at Chopped Rod & Custom festival – it’s a weekend of camping, old cars and music. It’s not a food-oriented event by any means, so I was caught off guard (food-wise) and ended up taking some impromptu photos with my phone – which, as you can see, are fairly questionable in quality.

Chopped Rod & Custom 2012

For the first time ever (we’ve been a few times!), Chopped had some vegan food on offer: Jerry’s Vegi Burgers.

Veg food @ Chopped Rod & Custom 2012

I was excited and impressed – I’d prepared enough food to get me through the weekend (including a raw lemon cheesecake!), but to show my support for a veg-friendly caterer and encourage the organisers to make this option available again, I bought dinner at this stall on Saturday. I’d heard from a very reliable source that the crispy noodle salad on offer was pretty good – better than the veggie burgers – so I placed my order.

Veg food @ Chopped Rod & Custom 2012
Crispy noodle salad.

Can you believe that giant serve was only $10? Half way through it I was pretty full but I powered through and ate the entire plate because it was too tasty to waste! The dressing was a rich sweet and spicy peanut sauce, the veggies were fresh and crunchy and the sprouts and chopped nuts on top really made it! The only thing that would have made it easier to eat would have been a bowl. And maybe a shovel. Ok, ok, maybe the shovel is going a bit far… Hahah.

I had a bit of a chat to Jerry afterwards and found his relaxed attitude very striking and inviting. Jerry’s web page has a list of upcoming festivals that he’ll be cooking at; if you’re attending an event in the future, feel free to put in a request on behalf of all veggo attendees to have Jerry there!

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.

Brewhouse Coffee Roasters on Urbanspoon

Bath Lane Café

Bath Lane Café
13 Bath Lane
Bendigo, VIC 3550
Ph: (03) 5441 5400

Mr. AA often goes on a “man date” with one of his mates when he has the day off work. They recently went to the Bath Lane Café together, and Mr. AA, being the wonderful, considerate man he was, scanned the menu for vegan options to see if he could bring me there (without me having to dissect the menu and ask to have a special meal made up).

As it turns out, a wonderful lady that I met online via my osteopath is the manager there. She makes a kick arse coffee that will have you climbing the walls if you don’t drink coffee often; it’s super strong and it’s refreshingly fabulous to finally be served soy milk that’s velvety as opposed to foamy! Nice work, Jaime.

Bath Lane Coffee
Can you tell we have a mutual girl-crush? Check out the super cute heart in my coffee! We also both happened to be wearing yellow cardigans – I think our friendship is meant to be.

Bath Lane Juice

I also ordered this juice, which included apple, carrot, beetroot and celery (and ginger at my request). While the balance of fruit and veggies was perfect, the texture was a little grainy. Mr. AA ordered the apple, lemon & ginger juice which was less harsh in texture and again, excellently balanced in regards to flavour.

Bath Lane Veganfast

The breakfast was superb – and very comparable to the one at T’Hooft, only without the hash brown and some other subtle differences.

I was thoroughly impressed with my visit to the Bath Lane Café. If I were to compare it to T’Hooft, I’d say the coffee was better, the meals were fairly equal (the baked beans at Bath Lane are sweeter and tangier, so it just depends how you like them) and the service was significantly better and quicker (with an equal amount of patrons).

I’ll definitely be heading back there next time I’m in the mood for a big, leisurely breakfast!

Bath Lane Cafe on Urbanspoon

T’hooft

T’hooft
322 Lyttleton Terrace
Bendigo, VIC 3550
AUSTRALIA
P: (03) 5444 4448

T'hooft Inside 1

T’hooft is a kitschy little café in Bendigo with a big reputation. The retro barrista caravan and mismatched ’50s dining furniture will score you a mountain of hipster points just for looking at it sideways. Seriously – you don’t even need to step in the front door!

There has been some renovations there over the past 6-12 months. As wonderful as the caravan looks, it’s a little imposing and I miss being able to ogle a cabinet full of sweets and cold Belgian beers that believe it or not, you can order with breakfast! In fact, they used to offer you a 10% discount if you had beer with your breakfast; they say this is to encourage the Belgian way of life! (I’m not sure if this is still the case.) Now these items stand sadly in a small and overlooked refrigerator.

T'hooft inside 2

One of the best (and worst) things about T’hooft, is that you can always count on it to be consistent. The meals are consistently outstanding and the staff tend to be long term employees, but the service is consistently very slow – even after extending their kitchen area. The wait time for your drinks order to be taken and delivered is longer than it should be, so be warned: don’t fluff about when deciding on what meals to order, or you’ll be there all day.

The breakfast menu only has one vegan dish on it (called “vegan is not a dirty word”!), but it’s a giant, impressive hangover-style meal that will leave you feeling like you need to be ROLLED out the door. It contains a thick slice of toasted bread, a hash brown, grilled tomaoes, red onion, red capsicum and mushrooms, wilted spinach, a quarter of an avocado and the most amazing baked beans I’ve ever had in my life. Admittedly, I’ve never had the trashy baked beans in a can (the smell of them makes me want to hurl) so I was pretty apprehensive the first time I ordered this… But I assure you, I wasn’t let down. These are made in a tomato based sauce with wholegrain mustard and herbs; they’re SUPERB.

Vegan is not a dirty word

The remainder of the all day breakfast menu is an assortment of bacon, eggs and sausages done every which way with different sides. For anyone who isn’t vegan, I’ve heard the sausages are excellent and home made (boasting 80% meat) and the hollandaise sauce is divine. There’s also a half page menu of waffles (both sweet and savoury options, but disappointingly none of them are vegan) and a very basic lunch menu of sandwiches/focaccias that you can order with gluten free bread. Only one of those is vegan.

T'Hooft Menu

There used to be a few salads on the menu – one of them was an excellent eggplant and rocket based one with za’atar, but the salads have dwindled to one lonely little non-vegan caesar salad. I almost wonder why they’ve bothered with it to be honest. The coffee is nice (there’s four blends you can choose from) but only barely worth the wait and the chai powder they use is not vegan, but all of this is made up for with four fresh juice options and a banana/coconut milk smoothie on the drinks list. Seven dollars is a bit steep for a fresh juice, but I’m willing to pay it.

T’hooft is almost always bustling and crowded, but it’s a comfortable place for a big social brunch. I’d recommend booking a table/calling in advance if there’s more than two of you heading there.

T'hooft on Urbanspoon

Indian Empire

Indian Empire1

Indian Empire
64 George St
Launceston, TAS 7250
AUSTRALIA
Ph: (03) 6331 2500

I love Indian food. There’s no way that anyone who knows ANYTHING about me couldn’t know this. What I love most about visiting different Indian restaurants is that they often have very similar menus, but they all make everything differently/in their own way. Indian Empire is no exception to this.

Prior to my visit, I didn’t think to see if their menu was online. It in fact is. So… When I arrived and looked over the vegetarian section, I was feeling a bit nervous and uncomfortable. Just about everything there was known to me as containing cream, or was listed as containing paneer… Then I panicked and thought “what if they use ghee in everything???”.

Thankfully, the woman managing the restaurant was really helpful and accommodating – and best of all, she didn’t pull a face at me for being vegan. She pointed out a number of items in the vegetarian section that could be made without the cream, or could be made with vegetables instead of paneer, and she assured me that there wouldn’t be any ghee in my meals. ROCK AND ROLL, KIDS. Would it be inappropriate for me to propose to her? Probably… I’m sure she didn’t “swing that way” and neither do I (not that there’s anything wrong with that) – plus, Mr. AA was sitting right across from me.

Indian Empire2

These onion bhaji were very different to the ones I get at my favourite local restaurant, Curry Garden (which will forever be known in Bendigo as the “downstairs Indian restaurant” because there’s an inferior Indian restaurant next door and upstairs) – BUT they were almost as good. For a start, these were in clusters rather than rings and the seasoning was only very light. These would have been excellent if they weren’t burned.

Indian Empire3

The first main I chose (YES I CHOSE MORE THAN ONE!) was the dal makhani. I haven’t had one of these since going vegan because they’re always made with cream and every other restaurant I’ve been to has been unwilling to compromise on this.

This used to be my favourite curry… And I think it still is. Though really, it’s hard to pick just one. Normally dal makhani is mild, sweet and runny but this one had a bit of kick to it and it was really thick, rich and earthy. When I say that, what I mean is – you know you’re eating lentils. That’s definitely not a bad thing if you’re crazy about lentils like I am. I’d eat this curry over and over again in a heart beat.

Indian Empire4

My second choice was the vindaloo, made with vegetables instead of paneer. Holy hell. This had a tomato base and was heavy with a very aromatic mix of spices… Topped with the kind of heat that made my mouth tingle and my nose run. The best part was that even though it was hot, I could still taste all the flavours. I could actually decipher individual vegetables on my palette. That’s how spicy food should be, people!

I also ordered rice and roti, but didn’t photograph them. Rice is rice, not much to say there. The roti was perfectly thick and chewy – I hate when restaurants make their roti too thin and crispy – what kind of sauce do they expect you to mop up with that?

Dumpling World

Dumpling World1

Dumpling World
Cnr Argyle & Liverpool St
Hobart, TAS 7000
AUSTRALIA

If you Google “Dumpling World Hobart” or find it via the Happy Cow website, you’ll be told to go to 3/138 Collins Street. Let me assure you that at this spot, there’s nothing more than a shop front that’s being renovated. I was almost in tears. Two days later, we found the *real* address for Dumpling World entirely by accident – and oh what a happy accident.

Dumpling World2

Dumpling World has a tacky menu on the wall, covered with photographs of the food, but don’t let that turn you off. To the right of the entry is a dining area and to the left is the counter, kitchen and a bar height bench along the window for singles and pairs to sit and eat at. You can see into the kitchen from the bar style bench which was great for me because I knew my dumplings weren’t frozen and mass manufactured – they were being hand made with love right in front of my eyes.

Dumpling World3

I’ve eaten in Footscray and Richmond – both immigrant areas of Melbourne that are heavily populated with Asian restaurants – and JAPAN, for God’s sake… and I’m telling you now that nothing else I’ve eaten comes close to these dumplings. They are AMAZING. The wrappers don’t split when you pick them up with your chopsticks and the filling is more than just carrot and cabbage. There’s Asian greens and herbs inside; SO MUCH FLAVOUR! Delicious, finely chopped flavour. I can feel myself starting to salivate right now…

I’d definitely go back for the dumplings alone. There’s items on the menu other than dumplings – noodles dishes, Asian soups, stir fries with rice… But I can’t confidently comment on how many of them are vegan friendly. I know the tofu noodle dish doesn’t contain any oyster sauce, but I failed to ask if the hokkien noodles contained egg (they can go either way). Also, I’m sad to say that my gluten free readers are out of luck here.

Dumpling World on Urbanspoon

Heartfood

Hi Everyone!

Sorry I’ve been MIA – I just arrived home from a fabulous trip in Tasmania, where Mr. AA & I got engaged. I have plenty of updates coming up for you (both eatery reviews and recipes), so stay tuned!

When we arrived in Hobart, even before checking in to our cabin, I insisted on making a special stop for lunch. We’d heard of a place called “Heartfood” via the Happy Cow website, so we made our way into town. Hobart is a surprisingly easy city to navigate – once you have all the one way streets worked out. After 3 days, we felt like locals! Ha.

Heartfood1

Heartfood
64 Liverpool Street
Hobart TAS 7000
AUSTRALIA
(03) 6234 2884 ‎

Heartfood is a little take away shop – much smaller than I was expecting – that’s only open for lunch. There’s 4x tables of two in there and a giant floor-to-ceiling mirror to make you feel a little less claustrophobic. Mr. AA & I sat at a table looking out, watching the hustle and bustle of Liverpool St. If you don’t fancy sitting inside, there’s a communal outdoor eating area that all the surrounding eateries share which is just a short walk to the other end of the arcade.

Heartfood2

This was the first thing I saw when I walked in and I might have let out a little squeal of excitement when I realised they had sweets I could eat (I’m not kidding). To the right of this was a drinks fridge, which not only stocked Phoenix cola, but also coconut water with no additives (I don’t know about y’all, but I struggle to find coconut water that doesn’t contain sugar – what’s with that?)! To the left was the bain marie, which housed all the hot, savoury options which change daily.

Heartfood3

All of the dishes were clearly marked – most of them were both gluten free and vegan. I was having a lot of trouble making a decision, so I chose to try two dishes with rice.

Heartfood4

At the back is a tomato/veg/tofu dish. Mild and not overpowering – but not too bland either… Though it seemed pretty dull compared to the amazing coconut milk curry on the left. None of the food was spicy, so if you don’t dig chili, then you’re in for a treat.

Heartfood5

This was the vegetarian lasagne (not vegan) and a couple of vegetable pakoras. Mr. AA said these were both excellent and he was thoroughly satisfied!

Heartfood6

I have no idea why this is called a “rainbow cookie”, but it was AWESOME. It was like a chewy muesli bar bite with chocolate on top. I might have gone back for another one of these.

Heartfood7

I went back on another day during our trip for a take-away lunch (yes, I liked the food that much) and got another great veggie curry! This one was tomato based (not creamy) and comparable to a mild aloo mutter, only with a bigger variety of veggies in it.

I was thoroughly satisfied and impressed and wish there was a Heartfood around the corner from where I work, so could eat there every day! It actually made me a little homesick for Lentil As Anything.