Friday, 10 February 2012

Five for Friday (on fine-dining disappointment/tips & bliss; and Five photos of vegan food that really was awesome)

Wednesday, we had the pleasure of attending a dinner with some fabulous food-writers, food-bloggers, and food-lovers at a highly anticipated and much-lauded, fairly new restaurant. Our company was highly entertaining, multi-skilled and ever-vivacious, including Jacqui from Everydaycook, Morag from Miss Morag's Morsels, Karen Reyment (author of the "2012 Foodies' Guide to Brisbane", Sally Lynch (of Taste Trekkers), Fleur Cole and Therese Piper. We had a lovely evening. Next time, I'll be drinking too, ladies!

The restaurant is one which I would class as "fine-dining", and I realise that these kind of establishments generally don't provide a breadth of vegan food. But I was grateful that they were prepared to be accommodating. When discussing ideas with them, I mentioned that we like our food filling and hearty, we're not health-food types (so don't feel constrained!), and with their blessing, I provided them with some of my favourite food blogs, including recipes, and waited.

The best fine dining I've had
One very notable exception to the above, terribly uninformed generalisation about food in fine-dining restaurants would be Urbane Restaurant, who provided me with some of the best food I've had in my life - a completely vegan multi-course degustation, where the food was absolutely superb, both in taste and presentation. Molecular gastronomy techniques were used successfully to add layers of deliciousness, and the whole experience was jaw-dropping. We're talking worlds within worlds, here. Every morsel of every individual component carried the taste of an entire, completed, stunning dish. 

Don't get me wrong - we get really good food often in restaurants, but the best food I've had in Brisbane has been from small, cheap, ethnic restaurants.

Back to the restaurant at hand, now
Without wanting to offend the obviously hard-working chefs and staff at this very interesting and wonderfully refreshingly decorated restaurant, I'd like to say that the food we were given at our dinner here was, well, nice. Pleasantly fresh and light, but not hearty, filling or something I would choose to make or eat on most occasions.  The presentation was very pleasing to the eye - we were served a salad for first course, a rather elegant risotto for second course, a third salad to share when we were offered more food (which, almost unforgivably, was extremely similar to the first salad, with the addition of hazelnuts), and a mix of fruit and sorbet for dessert. We were still rather hungry at the end of dinner.

Beetroot & fig salad

Pea risotto

Needless to say, I was rather embarrassed - being in the company of people who know and love good food,  I realised we had been fed the sort of food that Omnivores think that vegans eat. It was wonderfully presented, and was appealing in taste, but it's not food that you can live on. Salads are fine, but they're not something I wish to be served at a restaurant. But kudos to the excellent sommelier who researched very carefully and made phone calls to ascertain which wines were vegan - and gave us some fantastic tasting wines, in addition to providing ingredient assistance.

My tip to restaurants serving patients with special dietary needs:
It's simple. If you're happy to accommodate, that is:
Feed your patrons food that you would relish eating yourself - food that would satisfy you in the best sense of the word.

Upon talking to the ladies we dined with - it became clear to me that most omnivores just don't really realise what is capable within the world of vegan food - and they really don't have any need to. But I think they want to ;).

Five for Friday
So instead of boring you daily with what we eat, I propose that each Friday I do a post entitled Five for Friday. The purpose of these posts will to be to showcase five photographs (you know me - amateur, low quality photographs, of course!) of vegan food that we have eaten that we truly relished even mouthful of. It doesn't have to be fancy, in fact, it can be really homely. Or the food shown could be a show-stopper. But I love my trailer-park specials as much as anyone else.  My only goal is to showcase the variety and depth of vegan food. Please note: I err on the side of fried and naughty, rather than fresh. It seems that fresh, green, vegetable-based vegan food is a given, in people's minds!

So here goes - our first Five for Friday:

Home-made Clafoutis, from The Urban Vegan's first cookbook, The Urban Vegan

Dagwood dogs from Ykillamoocow at the West End Markets

From front left, clockwise- spring rolls; curry puffs & a broccoli dumpling; marinated fried eggplant; and radish cake. All from yum cha/dim sum at Easy House Vegetarian Restaurant at Mermaid Waters.

Chocolate sundae from The Green Edge, including chocolate cookies, marshmallows, chocolate chips, whipped cream, chocolate sauce, Jokerz chocolate bar and Cocoluscious.

Home-made roasted vegetable pizza, with garlic mayonaise (an odd combination, I know!).

Can I ask if this interests our readers? Or is there nothing more boring than other people's food that you can't taste (or am I projecting my own feelings, here ;) ?)
So there you go. Enjoy the weekend, and the fabulous food that you eat! Drink some wine, spend time with those that you love - enjoy your life!


  1. the "rules" I guess or "law" even is... if it truly happened to you and is not defamatory people cant sue you (well they can but will hopefully get thrown out).

    You've done well, I mean I offer much more harsh criticism on my blog... but if it's true its true.. you should always round things out with aspects you liked which you have. Basically if it's not malicious you should fine. Just try and be constructive with criticism but if you ever have a truly awful experience either don't blog about it or if its in the public interest (ie somewhere you have recommended before and is now bad etc) write your experience as honestly as possible.

  2. I actually like seeing photos of food that people who like to eat, eat.

    About your review — I thought you balanced the negative with the positive, and captured beautifully what it's like for vegans to dine at a wonderful (for omnivores) restaurant where a well-meaning but too delicate hand produces a skimpy, but perfectly-prepared vegan meal. At least it wasn't a small plate of rice and mushrooms with a carrot and broccoli garnish. My favorite. I happen to prefer fresh, lighter fare over heavy, fatty foods, but I have a healthy appetite, and lettuce doesn't suffice. But, they tried. The really kind thing to do would be to thank them, point out all the wonderful attributes of the food, and offer suggestions for how to make the vegan food more equivalent (in satisfaction and quantity) to the non-vegan food. Suggest a cookbook they might have on hand for vegan occasions. Then eat there again.

    Now I'm off to look up that recipe in The Urban Vegan!

  3. Ron_Kat (Qld Veg Society)11 February 2012 at 10:39

    Thoroughly enjoyed reading this today and as a result have some wonderful new recipes to try.

    And you're so right about restaurants and vegans. I go to a local gay group dinner every month and the best they can is a tofu stir-fry which makes it all so boring. And adds to the impression that veg*n food is boring.

  4. I would love to see your Five for Fridays, especially treat meals. Great idea!


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