Want to show your hot date that your dining insights go beyond meat-lover’s pizza? Or are you a vegetarian tired of the same old token meat-free dishes? From smart casual to the finest of fine dining, consider these Melbourne restaurants where loving animals doesn’t necessarily mean eating them.
Proving that you can have fun while being healthy, Superfluid Cafe has brought organic, cold-pressed juices and plant-based meals to the Carlton Hotel. The ground floor cafe serves juices that aim to boost your mood, energy, immunity and even sex drive. Foodwise it’s all fresh, vegetarian meals that avoid refined sugars, gluten and preservatives.
Green with envy
The newest venture from hospitality veterans Alison Whyte and Fred Whitlock, Green Man’s Arms brings Israeli-style vegetarian food to Lygon Street. Boutique beers like Two Birds and Holgate are great companions for house-made falafel, Yemeni flatbread, colourful salads and smashed potatoes. Several of the dishes are vegan, including the halva icecream – phew.
Tried and true sophistication
After nearly 20 years, Teage Ezard’s eponymous dining room is still among the city’s most acclaimed. The artful fusion of Modern Australian and Asian cuisines is best experienced with an eight-course degustation, including an all-vegetarian version. EZARD even serves vegan degustations, available on request at this sleek, semi-subterranean restaurant.
On top of the world
High in the sky atop the Rialto tower, Shannon Bennett’s Vue de monde also offers a vegetarian take on its tasting menus. Give them a heads-up when making your reservation, then sigh with delight over seven or 10 courses and 55th floor views. Ethical diners, your next celebration is sorted!
Handy hawker-style option
Smart enough for frisky cocktails but casual enough that eating with your hands is encouraged, Rice Paper Scissors makes food fun. Including for vegetarians, who shouldn’t be put off by the fairly meaty looking South-East Asian hawker-style menu. Numerous dishes either are or can be made meat-free, using soy-based substitutes, tofu or vegetables. Cheers!
Moreish Middle Eastern
You may have seen Shane Delia on his own SBS cooking show, Spice Journey. There’s no need to lick the screen – his beautiful Middle Eastern creations await at Maha. The only challenge for vegos is choosing. Explore their dedicated vegan and vegetarian menu featuring an abundance of options from two-course pre-theatre dining to an enticing six courses.
Prefer to go all the way, at Melbourne’s pioneering meat-free restaurant? Shakahari, which means vegetarian in Hindi, opened in 1972, when meat and three veg without the meat was the usual veggie option. After 45 years, they know better than most how to make East-meets-West fare that’s delicious, nutritious and ethical.