Sunday, November 19, 2017

Dr Morse Bar and Eatery

November 12, 2017


We spent Sunday afternoon at Templestowe checking out the platypus that hang about in the Yarra out that way (see pic at the bottom of this post). The bus back took us into Abbotsford and we decided to stop off for dinner on the way home at Dr Morse Bar and Eatery. It's a cafe in the day time and a bar in the evening - the courtyard was pounding with incongruous house music and loads of people; inside was less crowded but the air was still dominated by the DJ.

We started off with some drinks - a citrussy mocktail for Cindy and a lemon lime and bitters for me. Nice and refreshing on a warm evening.


On Sunday afternoons they run a 'Fists of Fury Asian Garden BBQ' at Dr Morse, so the menu is a bit more restricted that other times of the week. There's just enough vego food for two people to share some dishes - we picked out four of the five options for a light dinner.

We had, clockwise from top left, the BBQ pumpkin with sweet tamarind glaze ($7), the charred corn with miso butter and togarashi ($8), the Bangkok fried rice ($12), and the grilled tofu with yellow curry and coconut ($8).


This was a pretty decent meal - the corn and the fried rice were probably the best of the bunch, with the omelette in the fried rice providing a good salty hit. The tofu looked the best, but the curry sauce was a bit bland and it was only the fresh chilli that really gave it some punch. The pumpkin had a nice char on it, but the sweet tamarind glaze didn't really shine. 

The prices are pretty reasonable - we spent just under $40 on an enjoyable meal for two. Service is efficient and friendly and there's a nice atmosphere on a Sunday evening (I can imagine it all gets a bit hectic on Friday and Saturday). Dr Morse probably won't drag us over to Abbotsford on its own, but it's a good option if we're ever in the neighbourhood.

As promised - the platypus from Templestowe:


____________

There are some positive reviews of Dr Morse on Wandering MintThe City LaneSimply SundayLisa Eats WorldChewing is ExerciseThe Burger AdventureMel: Hot or Not and Peach Water, while The Chicken Scene and The Brunch Addict were less enthusiastic.
____________

Dr Morse Bar and Eatery
274 Johnston St, Abbotsford
9416 1005
Sunday evening menu
https://www.drmorse.com.au/

Accessibility: There's a flat entryway and ramps between the front room and the outdoor area at the back. Toilets are fully accessible. We ordered at the table and paid at a high bar.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

DIY Golden Gaytime

November 2-14, 2017


The Golden Gaytime is a much-loved Aussie icecream that has withstood a shifting interpretation of its name. Its winking tagline is that it's hard to have a Gaytime on your own, and it's tempting to toast Australia's positive vote for marriage equality with one of these delightful popsicles.

And yet! We plan to make this a Streets Free Summer, in solidarity with the workers making Golden Gaytimes and facing pay cuts of up to 46%. So why not make a Gaytime on your own?

The easiest path is to whip it up, sundae style, with purchased icecream. A scoop of vanilla icecream, a scoop of caramel - have you noticed that there are some magnificent vegan salted caramel ones out there now? Make your own two-ingredient choc-ice magic, scatter over some crushed biscuits and you are SET.

Of course, I had to overthink this project and make my own icecream. I thought I'd mastered vegan salted caramel icecream years ago, though I've grown a little weary of overbearing coconut milk desserts since then. I worked in some macadamia milk, glucose syrup to improve the texture, and a hearty dash of dark rum in the caramel layer. My two-toned icecream tasted so, so great, but its texture completely bombed. Dense and icy, it was a pain to scoop and just barely a pleasure to eat. I kinda liked it in popsicle form, but it's not the Golden Gaytime we know and love. I assume it needs a higher fat content.

The recipe below isn't a recommendation. It's a record for myself, it's a call-out for your icecream-making ideas, it's an affirmation that I should do this again, and better.



DIY Golden Gaytime

icecream
400mL vegan milk (I used macadamia)
1 x 400mL can coconut cream
1/4 cup glucose syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla
scant teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon dark rum
100g caster sugar

chocolate shell
1/4 cup coconut oil
80g vegan 'milk' chocolate (I used Bonvita)
tiny pinch of salt

crumbs
100g plain vegan biscuits (I used Granita)


Place the vegan milk, coconut cream and glucose syrup in a saucepan and heat, stirring, until well mixed. Pour half of the mixture into a bowl and whip it up with a stick blender, adding 1 teaspoon of the vanilla and a pinch of the salt. Refrigerate this mixture until very cold, at least 3 hours. (You should still have the remaining unseasoned half of the milk mixture out.)

Place the caster sugar in a clean dry saucepan over moderate, even heat. Avoid stirring it, but go ahead and shift the liquid bits out of the way to encourage the solid bits to melt quicker. Continue cooking the sugar until it is all liquid and brown, until it just starts smoking. Whisk in the remaining coconut milk mixture, and allow any stiffened caramel to melt back down. When it's all smooth, turn off the heat and whisk in the remaining teaspoon of vanilla, the rum and the remaining salt. Refrigerate this mixture until very cold, at least 3 hours.

Churn the vanilla icecream in an icecream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions, then pour it into your preferred mold, and place it in the freezer. Churn the caramel icecream in the maker, then pour it over the vanilla layer. Place the mold, covered, in the freezer.

To make the chocolate shell, melt the coconut oil over low heat in a small saucepan. Add the chocolate and salt, and stir continuously until you have a smooth sauce. Turn off the heat and store the chocolate at room temperature.

Smash the biscuits into coarse crumbs (I used a rolling pin, with the biscuits placed between sheets of baking paper).

When it's time to serve, scoop or unmold the icecream, pour over the chocolate sauce and quickly sprinkle over the biscuit crumbs before the chocolate sets.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Green Man's Arms

November 1, 2017


We were excited to read that new owners had taken over the old Percy's pub in Carlton and turned it into an all-vego pub with a Middle-Eastern vibe. We quickly rounded up a gang and got along to check it out. 


The fit-out is comfortable and a little retro, with a few high pub-style tables in the front bar and a casual dining room out the back. The staff are hugely enthusiastic and were almost overwhelmingly helpful on our visit. I imagine things will get a bit more slick and efficient once they settle into their rhythm, but we had staff checking in every few minutes.

The menu is a mix of small plates and mains, with most of the vegan options among the former. We shared a bunch of dishes between the four of us for near-comprehensive coverage of the Green Man's Arms' food.


First up was two serves of the Yemeni lahuh bread filled with asparagus, mushroom ragu and fresh creamed corn ($6.50 each), and the house made hummus with pita bread and pickled veggies ($8.50). The breads were fantastic - the lahuh bread had an injera-like texture, but a sweeter flavour. The hummus was solid, without being life-changing and the lightly pickled veggies that came with both dishes added a nice sharpness.

The only vegan main is the house made couscous ($15), which came with a vegetable purree and some roasted beans, corn and onions. It's kind of a weird dish to be honest - you might be a bit disappointed if you ordered it as a main for yourself, and as something to share around the table it wasn't as simple to divide as it looks.


Much more successful were the pomme frites ($8) - a plate of the most deliciously fried smashed potatoes, heavy on the seasonings and served with aioli and house made tomato sauce. The best dish of the night. I liked the falafel ($7) as well, although they weren't chewy enough for everyone at the table. 


We finished off by sharing a sample of all the desserts on offer: halva ice cream ($7, vegan and pictured left), knafeh ($10 and pictured centre) and barboosa ($8, vegan and pictured right). The halva ice cream was an impressively creamy vegan version, with some Persian fairy floss and hazelnuts to keep things interesting. The knafeh was a crisp-edged ricotta-stuffed pastry served with pistachios, pickled grapes, syrup and some weird little jelly cubes. The barboosa was a very sweet semolina cake, served on top of a rosewater infused coconut cream. I think we all had different favourites, which is a good sign.


It's great that the Green Man's Arms is offering up another decent veg option in Carlton, but we were only partially wowed by this early visit. The menu needs a few tweaks I think - some more (and more interesting) vegan mains seem like an obvious addition. It will be interesting to see how this pub develops!

____________


The Green Man's Arms
418 Lygon St, Carlton
9347 7419
menu, desserts

Accessibility: The entry has a small lip from the street and there's a step up between the front bar and the dining room. We had full table service and didn't visit the toilets.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Loving Hut

October 28, 2017


Melbourne has a new, third Loving Hut! And it's located in the shopfront that used to hold White Lotus; it's inexplicably comforting to me that there's a veg*n restaurant nestled in this spot again. The Loving Hut team have redecorated the interior yet it's instantly familiar, both from its past life and via the distinctive yellow branding of the Loving Hut chain.

The menu is all vegan with numerous other dietary considerations (e.g. gluten, onion, garlic, raw) labelled throughout. There are dozens of dishes on offer, and I hear it runs closer to the Richmond offerings than the Northcote ones.


We stopped in after big, separate days running about - neither of us had a huge appetite and were glad to order simply, sit at the empty communal table, and keep to ourselves. Unusually, this Loving Hut is largely run from the counter, and this suited us fine.

Michael was a big fan of the nasi lemak ($16). This version is centred on coconut rice and a spicy mock meat rendang and has all the right trimmings: sambal, fresh cucumber and tomato slices, peanuts, and crispy mushroom mock anchovies.


I played it safe and standard with the salt and pepper tofu ($16). This, too, is a lovely rendition of a common dish, with lively spices in a crispy coating and refreshing capsicum and lettuce surrounding the tofu.


There's still so much more for us to try at this Loving Hut - entrees, noodles, soups, smoothies and perhaps dessert. The proselytising posters are cheesy and the drinks menu's flooded with kombucha, but we can always rely on Loving Hut for a casual, comfortable meal.

____________

Veganopoulous got into this Loving Hut branch early and enjoyed her visit.

____________

Loving Hut
185 Victoria St, West Melbourne
9326 7551
entrees, mains, drinks & dessert
facebook page

Accessibility: There's a shallow ramp on entry and clear corridor through the middle of the restaurant (see top photo). Tables are medium spaced. We ordered and paid at a low counter. We didn't toilets.

Monday, November 06, 2017

Etta

October 25, 2017


Etta is a new restaurant close by where we live, but we have Tash to thank for alerting us to its opening and booking us in to try it out together. While a couple of newspaper articles have insisted that it's not fine dining like the co-owners' past businesses, we think Etta looks pretty fancy! There's a sparkly bar up front, a dimly lit dining room out back, seasonal ingredient-focused menu at special-occasion prices, and excellent service throughout. We saw plenty of veg-friendly dishes listed across the menu, but agreed to put ourselves in the chef's hand for $60 per person. 


Another signifier of fine dining is starting a meal with the best bread and butter. Etta delivered soundly on this, with crunchy-crusted pillow-soft sourdough and a memorable burnt butter that could just about be served for dessert. Rather, it was served with some refreshing pickled vegetables and a lovely macadamia-based condiment; the cabbage was sprinkled with a furikake that reminded me happily of Twisties. This appetising spread was a meal highlight for me.


Our second course comprised three dishes: a smoky beetroot carpaccio arranged over miso chimichurri and walnuts (above left), Michael's favourite tamari-roasted buttercup pumpkin sprinkled with sunflowers and dill (above centre), and new season peas with stracciatella and Sichuan (pepper, I assume!).


The third course of savoury dishes was just a little heftier: Tash's favourite mushrooms la greque on a smoked tofu puree (above left), fettucine with globe artichokes, hazelnut and sage (above centre), and a side of green asparagus seasoned with furikake (less Twistie-flavoured here).


For dessert, we were served roasted banana icecream with coconut mousse, jelly and a salty peanut-coconut crumble. Roasting meant the banana flavour was concentrated and a bit much for Michael, but I enjoyed it very much; the salted peanut crunches in the crumble were what made this dish special.


This was a meal of high quality and high consistency, as demonstrated by our differing favourites; it was only our individual ingredient hang-ups (rubbery mushrooms for me, bananas for Michael) that occasionally disrupted our enjoyment. Since a lot of dishes contained dairy we're unsure what a vegan menu might look like, but the flexible 'leave it to us' option and the enthusiastic use of vegetables (and a bit of tofu) leave us optimistic. We reckon coeliacs will do well too.

Service was eager and accessible whenever we needed it. We feel similarly eager to return with the change of the seasons and discover more of what Etta can do.

____________


Etta
60 Lygon St, Brunswick
9448 8233
menu
http://ettadining.com.au/

Accessibility: The entry is flat and there is one step up from the bar area to the dining area. Tables are moderately spaced and lighting is quite dim. We received full table service. Toilets are unisex and spacious, but we didn't notice handrails or other mobility aids.