From street eats to high-end degustations, Australia has a growing appetite for plant-based food.
By Nina Karnikowski
Whether for taste, variety, ethics or health, Australians are embracing vegan cuisine like never before. From plant-based pizza and vegan “fish” and chips, to premium degustations and indulgent desserts, these six new dining experiences offer something for everyone.
Gigi Pizzeria, Sydney
You know veganism is a serious trend when one of Sydney’s most popular pizza joints deletes all meat, fish and cheese from its menu. Gigi Pizzeria, located in the neighbourhood of Newtown (Sydney’s unofficial capital of all things vegan), now spins traditional Neapolitan wood-fired pizze with 100 per cent plant-based toppings. Gigi’s creations will have you forgetting about cheese in no time, try the Funghi e Radicchio with Swiss brown mushrooms, dairy-free blue cheese, radicchio and roasted walnuts, or the Patate topped with thinly sliced potato seasoned with garlic, rosemary and black truffle pate. In any case, say Gigi’s owners, traditional pizza never had meat or cheese on it anyway.
Girls and Boys, Melbourne
Is there anything better than a dessert that makes you feel virtuous for eating it? The clever folk at this new vegan dessert bar in the hip Melbourne neighbourhood of Fitzroy whip up soft serves made from blended coconut and soy milks, vegan thickshakes and spiced mylks, matcha almond tarts and maca fudge bars, and other options free of gluten and refined sugar. This is the third vegetarian restaurant to be opened by this group of entrepreneurs – a sure sign that Melbourne’s appetite for wholesome, totally plant-based food is growing rapidly.
The Green Lion Bistro, Sydney
The opening of Sydney’s first vegan pub late last year made it official: vegan dining in Australia is now fun. A traditional Australian pub menu is typically heavy on meat, but in the inner city neighbourhood of Rozelle, The Green Lion dishes up a playful twist on the experience. The menu has vegan versions of Australian classics including hamburgers with faux meat patties, mock meat pies and tofu-based “fish” tacos – all served with a range of vegan wines and beers in a typical Australian pub atmosphere. It’s enough to impress even the most suspicious carnivores.
High-end Sydney restaurant Yellow revamped its menu to be 100 per cent vegetarian last year – a sign that Australians are serious about plant-based eating, and willing to pay for it. The vegies at this award-winning restaurant are treated with the same level of creativity as animal proteins usually are, so the simplest sounding dishes – such as eggplant, corn and black garlic, or young carrots, goats cheese and macadamia – are full of flavour combinations that tap-dance on your palette. Come for the nightly vegan degustations, and don’t miss the natural and organic wine list, which, with its changing selection of Australian and international wines, reflects the latest winemaking trends around the world.
The Alley, Melbourne
Veganism isn’t just for restaurants – lots of Australians want their fast food to be plant based, too. Slated to open in Melbourne’s St Kilda in mid March, The Alley is taking a vegan approach to fast food, promising nutrient-dense, inexpensive vegan food that will be turned around in 10 minutes. Expect vegan burgers (including a Hawaiian burger made with pineapple and jackfruit), vegan mac’n’cheese, vegan gluten-free pastas and vegan ice cream – an innovative, healthy approach to comfort food.
Bliss & Chips, Sydney
A cursory glance at the menu of this eatery, also in the neighbourhood of Newtown, would have you thinking you were at any regular fish ’n’ chippery. Crabsticks, fish, calamari and prawns are all on the menu at the newly opened Bliss & Chips, but the restaurant is actually battering up ocean-flavoured soy-based proteins instead of marine life – with a batter that’s gluten free and non-GMO, no less. Which means no one misses out on the great Australian tradition of fish and chips, whatever their dietary preferences.
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