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. Continue reading

Fresh On Charles

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Fresh On Charles
178 Charles Street
Launceston, TAS 7250
AUSTRALIA
Ph: (03) 6331 4299

I like to think of myself as a very fair and honest person. Before writing this review, I deliberated a lot, wondering if maybe I hold vegetarian/vegan restaurants and cafés to higher and harsher standards than other places… but came to the conclusion that this isn’t the case. After all, if I went to a restaurant/café dedicated to any one theme and was presented with something that didn’t show a comprehensive understanding of it, I’d be pretty disappointed.

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We ordered coffee to start. My soy latté arrived quickly despite the café being busy – and it was strong. Definitely no complaints about that! The girls serving us were super friendly.

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After a quick perusal of the menu, I had my heart set on the pho (Vietnamese soup) from the lunch menu and Mr. AA ordered the sweet potato hash brown dish from the breakfast menu.

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We were waiting a VERY LONG TIME for our meals; I’ll explain more about this later. Fresh On Charles no longer stocks Phoenix cola, but they stock their ginger beer – so we ordered a couple of those and were impressed to see them served with a decent chunk of ginger in a glass of ice. I don’t know why I’d never thought to do that myself!

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This is the pho. When the menu said “greens”, I was expecting something Asian. Baby choy sum? Asian broccoli? Even some boc choy or bean shoots, maybe? No. What was in there was a handful of baby spinach and a few WHOLE leaves of wombok cabbage, which were pretty awkward to try and eat. In addition, the noodles were over cooked, the tofu was dumped on top of the soup as a slab and there was a giant lime cheek floating in my bowl. There were no fresh herbs in sight; can you understand why I was more than just a little bit disappointed?

The broth was nice, but it wasn’t very complex – I suspect it was a standard veggie stock with some soy sauce and lime juice added to it. I can’t believe I paid $20 for this. It was a pretty poor attempt at pho.

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This was Mr. AA’s meal – at $17, this was significantly smaller than mine, which only proved that there’s no correlation between portion sizes and price here. He had no complaints and said that the sweet potato hash browns were excellent – however I could clearly see his eggs were over cooked. The yolks, for the most part, were solid.

Now onto my severely disappointing story about the long wait for our meals…

The venue is deceivingly large. From the front, it looks fairly small, but it stretches pretty far back and has some pretty adorable retro furniture. We ventured right through to the outdoor area before finding a spare table – so based on this alone, I was understandably expecting that there might be a fair wait for a meal. I was prepared to be patient. What I was NOT prepared for, was this: witnessing a waitress skip someone else’s meal to the front of the queue because she knew them.

The waitress wasn’t at all discreet about it, either. She was chatting with the women at the table next to us loudly and actually offered to push their meals forward. Those women had sat down and ordered well after us – and yet our meals didn’t arrive until they’d already finished eating.

Now, I’m generally a pretty relaxed person. I was holidaying at the time and in no rush, but honestly… that kind of behaviour is totally unacceptable. What’s worse is that after we’d paid, I quietly spoke to the manager about it and she didn’t actually offer me an apology – her words to me were “we try to discourage people from doing that”. Hang on — back up, lady. This happens all the time? Way to make your patrons feel equally appreciated.

I definitely won’t be returning.

Fresh On Charles on Urbanspoon

Indian Empire

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

Amigo’s Mexican Restaurant

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Amigo’s Mexican Restaurant
329 Elizabeth Street
North Hobart, TAS 7000
AUSTRALIA
Ph: (03) 6234 6115

As we arrived at Amigo’s, we realised we were in the heart of Hobart’s restaurant district – some information that would have been helpful to us in advance. As you enter this restaurant, your senses are tantalised by the rich spices that fill the air.

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The menu is available on their website, broken up into three pages. There’s a vegetarian section with two vegan options marked and two gluten free options marked; I thought with my Mexican food knowledge I could wrangle a vegan version of a couple of other menu items, but disappointingly it didn’t work out that way. More on that later!

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These salsas were pretty amazing. Mr. AA’s favourite was the corn salsa which admittedly was pretty good but no better than the one I make at home, so I wasn’t quite so excited by it. The other two salsas on the other hand… WOW.

The green one is a tomatillo salsa, which was heavy on the lime juice but light and refreshing in flavour. The only thing I would have added to this is chili – that being said, I can understand why it’s served as a mild dish. Not everyone likes to have tingling gums like me!

The red one was (obviously) a tomato salsa. I loved how rich and sweet this was and the texture was a perfect balance between chunky and smooth.

All of the above came served with a fairly decent sized basket of thick corn chips; we shamefully ate the lot!

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This was the vegan chimichanga, which was actually pretty tasty. The plum sauce was a little sweet for me and the potato filling was a bit heavy in my belly, but as far as decadent vegan mains go, this was right up there.

Unfortunately it wasn’t my first choice from the menu – not only because I tend to avoid deep fried foods but also because I *really* felt like eating beans that night. I found out after trying to order the tostada and then the burrito that the beans at the restaurant are mixed with cheese. If I had one complaint about the restaurant, this would be it. Vegans need beans! OK – well THIS vegan needs beans, anyway… Life wouldn’t be half as fun(ny) without bean induced gas. GO LEGUMES.

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The kitchen staff were kind enough to improvise and throw together this salad for me and I seriously applaud anyone who puts up with me asking for special things at a restaurant. I try not to be too much of a pain but I knew I was going to need something fresh to go with my deep fried main. This was perfect. Thanks guys!

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This is a photo of the “fireballs”, which Mr. AA bravely ordered. They’re not vegan or vegetarian and they’re super duper spicy. Not for the faint hearted!! Mr. AA gave these guys a run for their money when all he left on the plate was a little bit of rice (I won’t tell you how much his face was sweating). As you can see, the serve was monstrous!

On the whole, we really liked this place and would definitely go back (why on earth didn’t I order the guacamole??? *facepalm*). The staff were really friendly and helpful and the manager was happy to chat with me and let me take photos; he even recommended an excellent Mexican beer to drink with our meals. The ONLY let down for me was the lack of vegan meal options with beans.

Amigos 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

(r)Adelaide: Vego To Go

I want to preface this with an apology about the shitty photos. I was traveling, excited to eat and on this occassion forgot to bring my camera along and had to take photos with my boss’ iPhone. Whoops… Nevertheless, I have plenty to say about my experience!

Vego To Go
Norwood Mall
Shp 12/The Parade
Norwood SA 5067
Australia

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I’ve gotta tell you guys – when I walked in and saw this cabinet, I just about pissed my pants with excitement. There was a lot of variety and much of it was vegan. To top it off, anything that was vegan was very clearly labeled. This made me oh so happy! The only down side was that my brain switched to over drive and I had no idea what I wanted to order. It’s not often that I go out in public and am faced with more than two choices!

I started off with a rice ball (pictured below). This was about the size of my fist and came with a really yellow-y peanut sauce that got me thinking about all the different peanut sauces I’ve tried in my time. Everyone makes it different! This one was sweet and delicious and really complimented the rice ball which was fairly simple in flavour. On the inside, it seemed to be dotted with flakes or nori and what I suspect was red capsicum. It was GOOD.

Rice Ball

Next, I tried the vindaloo, which was recommended by the girl behind the counter. I’m always up for something fiery, so this excited me! As you can see, there was a variety of veggies in there and the dish was seriously packed with flavour – I loved it. The only let down, for me, was that when I order vindaloo, I expect to walk away with my mouth tingling. Unfortunately, my nose barely ran. I understand WHY they’re conservative with the heat, but I wish they weren’t. That being said, it really was delicious and I wouldn’t give it back.

Vindaloo

This is my boss’ Thai green curry. I stole a piece of broccoli out of it, but I didn’t really taste the dish as a whole. What I can tell you is that it smelled great, it was vegan and my boss liked it (and he’s not even remotely veggo).

Thai Green Curry

Finally, these are the veggie balls (vegan) served with a vegetarian mint yoghurt dipping sauce. My co-worker ordered these and while I didn’t taste them, I was assured that they were great! These didn’t look like some kind of run-of-the mill potato-flour based thing – they had a really good variety of mixed veggies in them.

Veggie Balls

The serves at Vego To Go are really decent and won’t leave you hungry – but they will make you somehow want more! The food was really tasty, the labels were clear (from memory, I think GF items were also labeled) and the cutlery was made from bamboo. The only thing I didn’t really like was that it was a small shop which felt crowded even when it wasn’t full but I can’t really complain too much because we scored a quiet table in the corner. I’d just warn you that the set up is more like a take-away shop than a café.

If I hadn’t already planned to visit another place the next day, I would definitely have gone back to try more of the menu. I highly recommend the food here and will drop in again next time I’m in (r)Adelaide!