In my post about EARL Canteen last week I mentioned the two vegetarian sandwiches on their menu: one with ratatouille and fiore di burrata in a baguette, and the other a gluten-free wrap filled with autumnal mushrooms, wilted spinach, truffle paste and a soft cooked egg (and I mean SOFT cooked... we're talking a 65/65 egg, people!!). In response to what I said about preferring to shell out a few extra bucks for a really good quality sandwich, Ruth commented:
Wow, mind-meld: I was just thinking this EXACT thing this morning when walking past EARL -- I generally think sandwiches are shit (let alone PAYING for them) and am constantly annoying my workmates with rants about how frustrating it is that it's about all that is available in this corner of the city.
To make matters worse, I'm a vego, and all ANYONE makes for us is effing roasted vegetable foccacias (dear sandwich hands of Melbourne: WE EAT OTHER THINGS APART FROM BABY SPINACH AND EGGPLANT. MUSTARD! AVOCADO! CHUTNEY! ANYTHING ELSE!).
But I happily forked over $10 for the truffle mushroom and egg wrap at EARL without a second thought -- and how keen I was to do it again. An interesting and unique filling and seriously, seriously delicious.
A few comments further down, reader becberri chimed in:
Just had to write in support of Ruth's comment ... I'm also a frustrated vego who will kill someone if I see another roasted veggie foccacia! Pu-leez!
They got me thinking about vegetarian food - or more specifically, vegetarian options in non-vegetarian restaurants.
Even a cursory glance through this blog will tell you that I'm a girl who loves her meat and seafood, and who won't be subscribing to the vegetarian lifestyle over the omnivore lifestyle any time soon. So I can only begin to imagine how mind-meltingly frustrating it must be at times for dedicated vegetarians who are also adventurous foodies that like to eat out a lot. There's only so many plates of mushroom risotto drizzled with truffle oil (or roasted vegetable focacce) that such a person can bear, surely.
A vegetarian friend of mine is moving back to Melbourne soon. In addition to planning a revisit to the Moroccan Soup Bar with me (and avoiding Vegie Bar and Soul Food like the plague), he's emphasised that he wants to try lots of non-vegetarian restaurants "where chefs are doing really interesting, exciting things with food". So I'm trying to come up with a list of great restaurants whose menus also include meat and seafood, but who definitely go beyond the Token Vegetarian Dish to showcase some great vegetarian ingredients in dishes that are more than a salad or side serve of vegetables, but don't end up being a swamp of pulses or béchamely carbs.
One of the most memorable vegetarian dishes I've had recently that fits into this category was the fatayar pastry filled with globe artichoke, fetta and almonds at Cutler (see photo above). I also LOVED the dish of egg yolk, toasted rye, asparagus and yeast (top photo) at the Royal Mail Hotel.
I'm looking forward to introducing my friend to my two favourite dishes at Mamasita, the elotes callejeros and the quesadilla de huitlacoche. I'm also thinking of taking him to Bar Idda, where just the other week CD and I ate an almost entirely vegetarian meal without even noticing. Oh, and we'll have to drop in to Hellenic Republic for some of that wonderful kafalograviera saganaki. Mmmmm, peppered figs.
Which restaurants do you enjoy that go beyond the Token Vegetarian Dish?