Restaurant: Vego and Lovin’ It

Vego and Lovin’ It is a quirky little vegan place hidden behind a bright yellow door fame and then up a steep narrow flight of stairs off Rundle St in the CBD. The place is tiny! Lots of random 70’s op shop furniture crammed in and an even randomer (it’s a word if I say it’s a word) bunch of stuff on the walls. Also on the walls is the menu. A bunch of burgers, soup, a few drinks. Most things can be made gluten free (if they’ve remembered to buy the bread). There are never any specials though the soup will occasionally change if the owner feels like something different. Actually the owners whims seem to run this place; he’s well known for being eccentric. Closing early or not opening at all. Limiting customer numbers for no apparent reason. Whether or not the owner is in an odd mood it’s pretty hard to get a table here during rush hour, it gets packed out with people hanging out in the stairwell waiting for a seat or two to be free. Best to go early or late.

I’ve been here a few times and have tried a number of different things. All quite yummy and massive serves! They offer half serves for a very good reason. Only order a full size burger if you have a massive appetite and some Tupperware in hand for what you were unable to finish.

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The full Mexican Burger

The Mexican burger is awesome. The “cheesy” sauce is awesome even if it does make the burger rather messy to eat. You can get it with mild, sweet or hot chilli sauce, but beware, if you’re chilli sensitive there is chilli in the patty as well. The bun is a dark rye (my favourite) with a little nuttalex which is yum, the patty is… something? All the patties are an unidentifiable homemade mix of beans and other stuff but they taste frinckin’ amazing.

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Half Gourmet Tofu Burger

The Gourmet Tofu Burger was interesting. The patty was the usual unidentifiable yumminess with the added bonus of random chunks of tofu. The salad (lots of salad!) was fresh and the sauces were… interesting. The so called tomato relish was overpowering and tasted like cheap store bought salsa. The olive tapenade was surprisingly delicious. I really not a fan of olive and was dreading the tapenade but it tasted excellent more garlic than olive.

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Chocolate, Apricot and Banana Smoothie

Vego has a few drink options. Tea, instant coffee, fresh squeezed juices (yum! Perfectly balanced goodness). Then there’s the smoothies. Soy based with limited options (chocolate, carob, mango, banana, apricot. This time I had Chocolate, Apricot and Banana. It was good, nice and thick, but could have used a little more apricot.

Food: Overall very good. Great serving sizes but sometimes brought down by store bought condiments. 4/5

Service: Friendly, polite but nothing special. 3/5

Setting: A bit mental. Every time you go here you’ll discover something new, just don’t look at it too hard or it’ll warp your brain. Also the steep stairs are a bit awkward for someone with nervousness about stairs. 3.5/5

Overall: I love this place. It’s quirky, reasonably priced and thy have good food. What’s not to love? 4/5

Vego & Love'n It on Urbanspoon

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Restaurant: Cherry Darlings Bakehouse

Cherry Darlings Bakehouse is a newly opened bakery in Forrestville, right next to the tram stop. Oh yeah and it’s completely vegan! (Though they style themselves as Cruelty Free). Cherry Darlings is the evolution of a home based vegan catering business called Veganised who are well known for their Bakehouse Boxes (full of sweet and/or savoury yumminess) as well as supplying vegan treats to places like Godzilla Pizza and Out Of Step. The bakery opened yesterday (21/06/2014) and has been a big hit.

It’s a smallish shop with some indoor seating and another seating area out the back which includes  well stocked children’s play area. The interior is pastel colours with interesting things on the wall including a classic series Star Trek poster and a small embroidered gun control message. Like many an Adelaide eatery these days they’ve gone with a bit of a retro Americana theme.

The shop sells the usual bakery fare; lots of interesting pies and other savouries, many kinds of cupcakes and so many other yummy (and unhealthy) treats. A number of the treats are gluten free. They also do milkshakes, soda floats, tea and coffee. It’s all very reasonably priced with the cheapest item at $2.50 and nothing above $10. I ordered the BBQ Rib Mac & Cheese Pie and a slice of Banana Caramel Pie.

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BBQ Rib Mac & Cheese Pie

The pie was interesting The BBQ marinated gluten strips were well balanced and the capsicum, onion and (oddly) broccoli were a nice flavour combo. The Mac and Cheese didn’t have much flavour but added a nice texture contrast and creaminess to the pie. The pastry was unremarkable; I know I ate it but I can’t remember it

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Banana Caramel Pie

The Banana Caramel Pie was pretty awesome. One of the people who was with me (pictured below) said it was one of the best things she’s ever eaten. The caramel sauce was clearly homemade and delicious (and very sweet!) The cream was wonderful and it tasted like the real thing. However I found the base to be a bit to thick and a little lacking in flavour. It could’ve used a little more banana as well.

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So many desserts so little time

I also had the chance to sample a few other desserts thanks to a companion who couldn’t decide and ordered more than she could eat. All very yummy though the cup of tea was ludicrously strong due to the fact that they used enough loose leaf tea for a whole pot!

Food: Very yummy and lots of options. 4.5/5

Setting: A nice leafy area not too far from the CBD. The interior is a little cramped but once the opening fervour calms down it should be fine. 4/5

Service: Polite but a little clunky. Should improve with time. 3.5/5

Overall: Very good. I’m a bakery fan from way back and I’ve been missing it so much since going vegan. Now if only they had profiteroles on the menu (hint hint). It’s probably a good thing I don’t live to close to Cherry Darlings because I’d be there at least once a day. 4/5

Cherry Darlings Bakehouse on Urbanspoon

Restaurant: Argo on the Square

Argo is a trendy café with 2 locations in the Adelaide area; Victoria Square in the CBD and The Parade in Norwood. The cafe’s are very vegan friendly with a separate vegan breakfast menu. Annoyingly the vegan options on the lunch menu (on the website) are neither separate nor clearly marked.

The interior is lovely with lots of greenery, both real and fake. The plants are even on the walls! It’s a nice atmosphere. I went there with a fellow vegan friend for breakfast after a cycling event. I ordered an It’s Pearific frappe and the Vegan Waffle.

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It’s Pearific Frappe

The frappe was quite nice. Well balanced, not too much ice and a nice hint of mint at the end.

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The Vegan Waffles

The waffle were interesting. The waffle itself was made from a banana and walnut batter, which tasted lovely but made the waffle quite dense and heavy. The coconut sorbet had nice flavour and wasn’t too sweet but was icy. The chocolate sauce was more like a chocolate mouse. It tasted like a raw desert, had a slightly grainy texture and was in need of a little more sweetness. The grapefruit slices were under ripe and horribly sour. The mango cheeks tasted like they’d been stored incorrectly and had absorbed some random flavours. Strangely they reminded me a little of sushi.

Food: Overall quite tasty but let down by some bad elements. The frappe was good. 2.5/5

Setting: Not bad. Large but still cosy, lots of green. 4/5

Service: Average. Polite but minimal human contact. 3/5

Overall: Nothing special. I’ll go back to try another drink.
 
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Recipe: Creamy Tomato Pasta

This recipe is based on the recipe of a friend of mine; the original can be found here. I was a little unsure about this as I’ve never had a creamy tomato dish before, but I had some discounted Tofutti to use so I tried it.

Ingredients:

500 Grams of Pasta (I used penne).
Salt for the Pasta water.

1 Small Onion, diced.
2 Teaspoons of Garlic, crushed.
100 Grams of Mushrooms, sliced.
1 Teaspoon each of Dried Thyme, Dried Basil and Dried Oregano (or whatever Italian herbs you want).
1/2 a 700 Gram Jar of Passata (pureed Tomatoes).
125 Grams of Cherry Tomatoes, halved.
Olive Oil.
100 Grams of Spinach.
1 Tub of Vegan Cream Cheese (I used Tofutti).
Salt and Pepper to taste.

Method:

Boil water in a medium pan, then add salt and the Pasta. Cook until tender, drain and set aside.

In a large saucepan heat the Olive Oil then add the Onion and Garlic. Cook until Onion is see through, stirring occasionally.

Add the Herbs, the Mushrooms and the Cherry Tomatoes, cook until softened.

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Onions, Herbs and Mushrooms

Add the Passata and stir through.

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Tomato!

Add the Cream Cheese and combine thoroughly.

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After the cheese is stirred in

Stir through the Spinach and add the Salt and Pepper.

Add the pasta and stir through.

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Ready to eat

Verdict: So creamy! I can’t believe my friend actually suggests using 2 tubs of Cream Cheese! Despite the creaminess the dish still has a strong tomato flavour. It’s nice but I wouldn’t make it again. Nothing wrong with it, it’s just not my thing.

Restaurant: Cafe Chennai

Café Chennai is a Southern Indian restaurant in Prospect. The restaurant is a small skinny shop squished between a couple of other stores. The walls have a bunch of pictures mostly of British colonized India and in the front of the cafe is a vintage car. The menu consists of equal parts meat and veg dishes; with most of the vegetarian options being vegan. They also have a number of southern Indian dishes which are quite interesting. They also do quite a bit of gluten free. The first time I went here my table mates and I ordered a whole bunch of dishes and shared them.

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Chilli Gobi (Cauliflower)

Despite the bright red color and the fact that it was ordered a hot this dish was not hot at all. It was very interesting; quite salty and a very interesting crunch texture. A few of the other people said that the cauliflower looked line strawberries. I’m not sure why the big rings of brown onion were on the plate as they’re not particularly edible.

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Eggplant Curry, Mushroom Curry and Rice

Both curries were ordered mild but were still a bit too hot for me. (I’m a bit of a chilli wimp.) the mushroom curry was nice but could have used a few more mushrooms. The eggplant curry was fantastic; definitely my favorite thing on the menu. It was well spiced with nothing overpowering an the coconut cream was just right.

The vegetarian biryani was also very good as were the chapatis (not on the menu). The South Indian dishes were interesting but not my favorite. The pickle was nice but very salty and the coconut chutney was lovely.

Setting: Small but nice, can be a little noisy and the insense was a little overwhelming at first. 2.5/5

Food: Pretty good if a little to much chilli for my tongue. 4/5

Service: Table service is always good, bill splitting is better. 4/5

Overall: Now I’m not a huge fan of Indian food so I was pleasantly surprised by this place. A definite winner. 4/5

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