Sunday, July 21, 2013

Revolution Foods Cafe

Revolution Foods.  My first thought when I heard the name of this new café in Newtown was that it is a fantastic descriptor of the menu.  What is more revolutionary than veganism and the plant-based foods that form a part of it?

I visited on Wednesday with the V Stars Sydney group where a special menu had been prepared for us by the vibrant owner Brandy.  In addition to the main menu, we could order from a choice of shepherd’s pie, calamari and a burger.  The café is located in the shop that was vacated by Spoon’s Vegetarian earlier this year.  It has been redecorated with the whimsical touch of classical paintings ‘enhanced’ with vegetables.  Here is the Mona Lisa with beetroot!

Choosing just one dish from the all-vegan menu was a tough choice.  The menu includes smoothies, sandwiches, nachos, bruschetta and fantastic thick-cut chips. I was very keen to try the shepherd’s pie as it is the quintessential winter dish, but I was very curious as to what the calamari was like as I had never tasted any vegan versions before. Curiosity won me over, and I tried the calamari not just for myself but for my sister who was an avid seafood lover before she switched to a vegan diet.

The calamari dish was loaded up with a garden salad and a serving of lime mayonnaise.  I would have hope for a larger serving of the calamari as it did fall on the small side.  While the calamari rings were small compared to the marine version, the texture and taste were very close to what I remember.  The large caveat being that it has been over 15 years since I last tasted the marine version so my comparison is probably not the most reliable. Putting the comparison aside, it was a very tasty dish.

There was a good range of cakes, slices and cupcakes for dessert baked by the local heroes Vegan’s Choice and Mad hatter cupcakery.  I chose a slice of the peanut butter and chocolate raw cheesecake.  The flavour and texture were good but I would have preferred it to be a little sweeter.  I have a big sweet tooth though, so it should be fine for those who prefer their sweets on the less sickly-sweet side.

I didn’t try the vanilla slice but here is a picture of my neighbour’s serving. The slice received varying reactions from being better than the non-vegan version to being OK.  A few agreed that it would have been better with the addition of passionfruit.

Apart from the café menu, there is a small selection of vegan goodies available such as liquid smoke, some cheeses and seasonings.

Overall, this café is a great addition to the already vibrant vegan scene of Newtown.

Revolution Foods Cafe on Urbanspoon

Monday, July 1, 2013

Mamak Restuarant (Chinatown)

As expected, when I arrived at the Mamak restaurant several minutes before opening time at 11.30am on Sunday there was a queue to join.  This queue was there not because there was a lack of food outlets in the vicinity.  Chinatown is just a stone’s throw away as well as the many other restaurants on the same street, so I presumed that there must be some very worthwhile food inside. 
The décor inside is very basic and reminds me of a fast food restaurant with many tables aligned in rows under fluorescent lighting.  The service is very quick and efficient with wait times of only a few minutes for food to arrive.
The restaurant had advised me that there were dishes that could be veganised such as Nasi Lemak, Kangkung Belacan and Nasi Goreng.  However, I should talk to the staff on the day.
I decided to order the Nasi Lemak and advised the waitress that I did not want the sambal (sauce that contained fish), anchovies or egg and that they should be replaced with vegan options.  The waitress’ English was limited so it took a little while to convey this.

My dish was brought out a little while later and I asked the waitress “Is that it?” when I saw it. It was rice, peanuts and some chopped up cucumber.  I was very disappointed as they had not veganised the dish, just removed the offending non-vegan items.  Another waitress who had earlier proved helpful asked if I would like a sauce or curry to go with it and I replied that I would.  I expected this would replace the missing items, but I was charged extra on top of the regular price for the dish. 
The coconut rice was lovely, but the overall meal was nothing spectacular.  It was the type of fare you could find in any food court across the city.

So as not to base my opinion on just one dish I ordered a dessert even though I was fairly full.  I order the Ais Kacang which is a dish made of coconut milk, shaved ice and some grass-green noodles.  Although this one tasted fine (again, nothing special) I was slightly put off by fishing around for extremely green noodles in a sea of creamy-coloured liquid. 

Overall, I was very underwhelmed. This is one restaurant I wouldn’t recommend going back to because as I said above, you will find dozens of restaurants and takeaway shops with similar offerings without the waiting lines. 

Mamak on Urbanspoon

Friday, June 21, 2013

Dish Pizza Gelato

I visited this local restaurant in Double Bay fairly early on Saturday evening.  It wasn’t very busy around 6pm but it began to fill with families in the indoor and plentiful outdoor seating.

I confirmed with the restaurant beforehand that all the pastas and pizza bases are vegan so that leaves a very big scope of dishes to choose from.

For the entrée I ordered the dish roast eggplant dip with crisp bread.  It was very delicious – whilst it took the edge off being hungry, it didn’t leave me that full that I didn’t feel like a main afterwards as sometimes happens to me!

For the main, I had the spaghettini with roma tomato, garlic, basil and Napoli sauce.  There was nothing remarkable about this dish, but I always enjoy a good basic pasta on any given day.
The staff were very attentive and willing to be helpful so overall, it was a very pleasant atmosphere.

The vegan (or veganisable) dishes available are:

Starters and Sharing

  • Dish hummus with crisp bread
  • Dish roast eggplant dip with crisp bread
  • Bowl of marinated olives with grissini (ask for the white anchovies to be removed)
  • Traditional tomato bruschetta

  • Pear and Walnut (without the parmesan)
  • Roast Pumpkin and Charred Zucchini (without the goasts cheese)
  • Roast beetroot and Roast red Onion (without the feta and yoghurt dressing)

  • Spaghettini with roma tomato, garlic, basil and napoli sauce
  • Penne with roast eggplant ragu and pine nuts (without the feta)
  • Spiced Eggplant Ragu
  • Shoestring fries (without aioli)
  • Green beans with extra olive oil and lemon

The restaurant is located in 5a/19-27 Cross St  Double Bay NSW 2028 which is just next to the lovely Oscar’s bookshop.
Dish Pizza Gelato on Urbanspoon

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Casa Asturiana

Casa Asturiana is a Spanish restaurant my family and I have enjoyed going to for many years.  It has good, down-to-earth Spanish food that is flavourful and unpretentious.  It is food that would be served in any bar in the city or 'pueblo' in Spain.

I always, always order the Spanish Salad for the incredibly delicious sauce.  There have been many conversations had specualting over the ingredients with consensus being that it contains capsicum, olive oil and garlic.

The menu has a good range of tapas and on this evening as I was in a rush to make it to a movie on time, I only had one, which was the Patatas Bravas (Spicy Potatos).  The tapas servings are generous so was quite filling.

There is plenty of room at the restaurant so no need to book ahead.  There are many times a group of us have dropped in and there's always been room even for a group.  

For a Spanish restaurant, the menu is very vegan friendly with the following items available:

  • Marinated Olives
  • Grilled Mushrooms with garlic and parsley
  • Spicy Potatoes
  • Roasted red peppers
  • Spanish salad (I highly recommend this)
  • Garden salad
  • Vegetarian paella (although I would suggest confirming the stock used on the day)
  • Strawberries with vanilla-flavoured liqueur
  • Casadiellas - Ground walnuts, cinnamon, lemon zest and aniseed liqueur wrapped in filo pastry and dusted with icing sugar. 
The restaurant in located in Liverpool Street in the Spanish Quarter. 

Casa Asturiana on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Cosmopolitan Cafe - Double Bay

The Cosmopolitan Café in Double Bay recently reopened after some renovations in the Cosmopolitan Centre.   I have been there before and to be honest, could not see a noticeable difference in the setup or menu.  There was now a large grand piano which I can’t remember if it was there previously, however it was a nice way to start the day - breakfast with piano music.
As I looked over the menu, I really wanted a nice big cooked breakfast.  As soon as I spotted the hash browns, my mind was set that I needed to have them so I enquired as to whether they were vegan.  I was told that they were cooked in vegetable oil, however it would be up to me to decide whether they were vegan or not.  This was an unfortunately unhelpful answer as with such vague information I had no choice but to turn them down.  Very regretfully.  However, I have since had it verified that the hash browns are indeed vegan.  Next time!
I ended up having the mushrooms on toast with grilled tomato and a soy mocha.  The dish was lovely but should be more accurately called champignons with toast. 

The lunch and dinner menus do not offer a good variety of choices, however there is a lot of scope for breakfast.
Vegan Items on the Menu:
·         Greek Salad (if fetta is removed)
·         Garden Salad
·         Steamed vegetables
·         Marinated Olives
·         Bruschetta Pomodoro (Toasted bread with garlic, tomato, onion and basil)
·         Freshly Cut Fruit Salad
·         Banana Porridge (if made with soy milk)
·         Mushroom on Toast with grilled Tomato
·         Raisin Toast
·         Cinnamon Toast
·         Various types of toast (white, wholemeal, turkish, sourdough, rye)  with jam accompaniments.  Extras can include avocado, mushroom, tomato, hash browns and baked beans. 
·         Variety of hot drinks including coffees, Twinings teas, green teas, Chinese herbal teas.
·         Freshly squeezed and bottled juices
There are possibly more items but I have not been able to verify if they are vegan.  Please feel free to check the menu at

Cosmopolitan Cafe on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 20, 2013

L'Espresso Double Bay

I should title this review “A Comedy of Errors” because ordering at L’Espresso Café was not straightforward for a first time visitor such as myself. The café itself is tucked at the back of a lane with a small counter on one side and some tables arranged within an alcove on the other which gives it a cosy feel. 
I had heard the café had a Vietnamese flair, so my interest was piqued as to what food offerings would be available.  As I viewed what was available at the counter, the server asked if I would be interested in a bacon and egg roll.  I replied no, and explained about being vegan.  The manager replied that I could have a rice paper roll.  I have to admit, that a cold spring roll was not what I was looking for on a Sunday morning, but I would give it a go anyway because nothing else looked suitable.  Spring roll with a soy mocha – I steeled myself.
As I walked to my table, I noticed a breakfast menu taped to the wall that contained many more options than what was available at the counter.  Why had they not told me of this! More importantly, why is the breakfast menu not on view at the counter? I went back and told them to put my spring roll in a takeaway container and I would have one of the toast options that came with spinach and mushrooms.  Things were looking up!
When my plate came out, it was missing the avocado as listed in the menu.  As I had not stated ALL the ingredients they had only included the ones I did mention.  So I was brought some avocado slices as a side dish.
Although the presentation was uninspiring, the food was actually quite good.  The mushrooms were tasty and moist and the spinach flavourful.  Coffee was good as well.
Although the ordering was a frustrating process, the staff were very polite throughout.  I am sitting halfway between liking and disliking this place, but I feel that on a return visit things would hopefully progress more smoothly. 

L"Espresso on Urbanspoon

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Din Tai Fung Restaurant

Din Tai Fung is not the kind of place you will easily stumble across if you are wandering around Sydney.  I had never come across the restaurant before because it is located within World Square at the far right after you climb some stairs – not a place for accidental thouroughfare!  It makes me wonder just how many more little corners have interesting surprises waiting to be discovered.  And an interesting place this restaurant certainly is.

As you approach the restaurant you are met with surgically-masked workers furiously working at making dumplings behind the glass walls. I spent a good few minutes watching them transfixed before approaching the reception desk. I was taken inside to a table and a waiter gave me a stand so I could tidily store away my handbag and bags.
The restaurant serves up Taiwanese food, specialising in xiaolongbao – small steamed buns.  I had called the restaurant beforehand to check what was vegan.  To ensure there was no  miscommunication, I was assured that none of the pastry or dough contains any dairy or eggs. 
I ordered the lychee mint juice which was incredibly refreshing and heavenly.  It is one of the best juices I have tasted, although may be on the sweet side for some. 

For the meal I ordered the cucumber salad as well as a serving of the vegetarian jiao zi which are dumplings containing a tasty vegetable filling. 

I asked about whether any of the ice-creams were dairy and egg-free and was told that no they were not, even the sorbets.  However, all the hot desserts are.  I ordered a hot bun with a taro filling that was a bit of a miss for me as it was not very sweet and a little bland for my liking.   

Whilst the menu does not contain a lot of vegan options, I would still recommend this place for those few tasty dishes that are.  It is a great atmosphere and a good place to go as a group or after a movie. 

Din Tai Fung on Urbanspoon