Vegie Bar, Fitzroy

Vegie Bar is probably one of the most well known vegetarian/vegan restaurant in Melbourne, located in Fitzroy on Brunswick St. It's easily accessible by tram 11 towards West Preston, just across the road from stop 17. It's on the same strip of road as the gelato place N2, and further up the street is Hammer and Tong, another popular cafe that I've blogged about before.

The restaurant may not look very big when you first enter and the tables do look quite close to one another, but once you actually sat down, it was okay. There's a rustic, old school feel to this restaurant that's actually been around for twenty or so years, with a lively atmosphere from customers having meals or just a drink at the bar. Although it was very busy and seemed to be quite noisy, we didn't have to raise our voices to hear each other.

Vegie Bar is opened for breakfast, lunch and dinner all days of the week, with an extremely extensive menu of dishes, drinks and desserts to choose from. There's a range of burgers, pizzas and pastas, as well as Asian and Mexican inspired mains, salads and wraps. The dishes we ordered were the Baked Field Mushroom ($14.50) and the Funghi Arrosto Pizza ($12), and for dessert the Raw Cheesecake of the day ($8) with vegan ice cream ($2). I also ordered the Clean and Lean juice ($6), which consisted of watermelon, apple and cranberry. The juice was really refreshing, with a predominant watermelon flavour and a hint of sour from the cranberry.

The Baked Field Mushroom consisted of marinated field mushroom, filled with a roasted sweet potato and quinoa mash, topped with vegan cheese and served with a tomato, onion and oliver stew and a wild roquette and beetroot salad. The presentation of the dish was really vibrant and colourful, and the dish itself, though messy to eat was really enjoyable. There was a really good combination of flavours, especially the mushroom and the mash which had contrasting textures but very complimentary flavours. The tomato base also added great flavour, and the salad helped to balance out the dish.

The thin crusted pizza consisted of caramelised onions, fresh oregano, taleggio cheese and sliced field mushrooms, slow roasted with cracked pper and extra virgin olive oil and a dash of truffle oil. I ordered the small and thought the portion was just right, to make you feel full but not bloated. The hint of truffle oil was good in that it wasn't too overpowering (as the flavour of truffle can be quite strong), and complimented the mushrooms. The base of the pizza was crispy and thin, and there was a really generous portion of mushrooms and onions. The contrasting texture from the crunch of the onions and the softness of the mushrooms was really enjoyable, though the dish did feel a little on the oily side.

The cheesecake flavour of the day was lemon and raspberry, served on the cashew and coconut based filling. It was a light, melt in your mouth type of cheesecake and made for a great finish to our meal. The lemon flavour was strong but not overpowering, and slightly sour. We couldn't really taste the raspberry flavour in the cake at all, but the base was also enjoyable, with a harder more chewy texture than the rest of the cake. The ice cream was sweet with a very subtle sour flavour; the only downside being that it melted really fast.

As it was quite busy when we went on a Saturday night, we did have to wait quite a bit for our food to come, and to get the staff's attention when we wanted to order dessert afterwards. The prices are very decent for the portions you get, which is a plus. I'd definitely recommend coming here even if you're not a vegetarian as there's some really great options - I know I'll be coming back again to try some of the other things on the menu!

Ambience: 7.5/10
Service: 7/10
Food: 8/10
Price: 8/10

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