Photo: Braised fennel & witlof, Szechuan pepper & smoked palm sugar, lemon, black olive | Jacques Reymond
Veg out all over Oz
Author | Alecia Wood
It’s Meat-Free Monday and you’re keen on a delicious vegetarian feed – no home-cooking required.
Thankfully, Australia’s dining landscape has matured alongside the growing trend toward reduced meat consumption, now serving up dishes far more enticing than every menu’s token Mediterranean vegetable stack. Check out this round-up of high class and casual vego-friendly dining options around the country.
Yulli’s | Flanked by many a trendy eatery on Crown Street’s busy dining strip, Yulli’s keeps a low profile on its vegetarian status. The astro-turfed laneway out the back is perfect for the summer months, while the low-lit main dining room makes for an ambient spot to sample their modern Australian dishes – the varied menu spans pan-fried polenta with braised fennel and oyster mushrooms, and steamed leek and ginger dumplings.
Govinda’s | A wallet-friendly $28.90 will get you dinner and a movie at this legendary cinema-come-dining hall in Surry Hills. The humble eating area puts on an impressive nightly spread of curries, salads and desserts – all of them vegetarian. Rows of reclining lounges are just the spot to relax after a feast of hearty lentil dahl and crispy vegetable pakoras.
Jacques Reymond | Melbournians after a deluxe meat-free dining experience should head straight to Prahran. Renowned chef Jacques Reymond’s namesake restaurant hosts a nine-course degustation – featuring the likes of braised fennel and witlof with Szechuan pepper and smoked palm sugar, lemon and black olive, pictured above – that’s entirely vegetarian.
Lentil As Anything | With multiple venues in the Melbourne area – St Kilda, Abbotsford and Footscray – Lentil As Anything is well-established on the vegetarian dining scene. Run by volunteers, this not-for-profit, community-focused enterprise opts for a “pay-as-you-feel” model for dishes like cumin rice and pumpkin curry. Alecia
Mondo Organics | Though not a vegetarian restaurant per se, Mondo Organics’ strong focus on seasonal ingredients selected from local growers makes for a menu abundant with vegetable-based options. Start with wild mushroom consommé with poached quail egg and silverbeet, then move onto apple and brazil nut ravioli with Jerusalem artichoke and vanilla butter.
Loving Hut | Part of an international network of vegan restaurants of the same name, the Brisbane Loving Hut outpost offers dine in or takeaway options. A range of vegetarian curries and stir-fries plus mock meat meals like ‘spaghetti Bolognese’ made with soya mince start from just $10.90.
Assaggio | Steamed asparagus with soft polenta, parmesan and truffled egg; leek and beetroot tartlet with cow’s milk cheese and radicchio salad; soft potato dumplings with asparagus, pea and broccolini – it’s a substantial selection of meals making up the dedicated vegetarian menu at this slick Italian restaurant in Hyde Park.
Gilbert Street Hotel | Heading to the pub with a group of friends? Vegetarians need not stick to tried-and-tested wedges with sweet chilli sauce at the Gilbert Street Hotel. Snack on zucchini fries and oven-baked mushrooms to start, and choose from Mexican spiced tofu with pico de gallo – a fresh tomato and chilli salsa – or wild mushroom spelt risotto for main.
Heavenly Plate | Creative vegetarian dishes – like the Japanese ‘burger’ made with teriyaki mock beef tofu patty, served with wedges – form the basis of this light-filled café-by-day, restaurant-by-night adorned with chandeliers and pastel blue décor.
The Naked Fig Café | Perth dwellers can be contented post-Monday with The Naked Fig Café’s special Tuesday night vegetarian menu – double baked beetroot soufflé with feta and a salad of spinach, walnuts and apple is just one tempting option. Sister restaurants The Pickled Fig and The Wild Fig host the same event on Wednesdays and Thursdays to keep patrons meat-free throughout the week.
Hanuman | Spanning a range of Indian, Thai and Nonya dishes, the menu at this Holiday Inn Esplanade restaurant has a dedicated vegetarian section – feast on dishes like paneer cooked in cashew and tomato curry, or yellow dahl with cumin and mustard seed.
Eat At Martin’s | Though only open for breakfast, brunch and lunch, this vegetarian café offers a selection of creative meat-free, gluten-free and vegan meals to keep visitors satisfied. Their signature dish is the carrot and beetroot burger served on an organic spelt bun topped with spirulina sauce, goat’s cheese and salad.
Vegelicious | Open from Thursday to Sunday, this vegetarian- and vegan-friendly café at Moonah’s Island Markets is the place to pick up a meat-free meal for your Monday night dinner. Daily made pastries, wraps, cakes and salads feature alongside their signature sunflower and chickpea pattie veggie burger with faux cheese or satay sauce.
Thai Veggie Hutt | Located within the Bank Arcade, soy-based mock meats offer hearty meals as well as all-vegetable dishes at this vegetarian Thai restaurant. Choose from meals like soy mince with basil, crispy ‘duck’ with rice, and stir-fried mushrooms with crunchy greens.
Alecia Wood is a Sydney-based freelance food and sustainability writer, with work published in ABC Radio National Online, ABC Organic Gardener online, The Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Food and Broadsheet Sydney. Passionate about encouraging consumers to support and shape a more sustainable, secure food system, she is also a co-leader of the Youth Food Movement’s Sydney chapter and in 2013 completed the Centre for Sustainability Leadership’s annual fellowship program.