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Published September 19th 2012
First impressions aren't everything
The Forest Cafe while having an unremarkable setting serves up sensational value hassle-free lunches
Slightly sceptical and a just little doubtful were some of my first feelings towards West End's entirely vegan, Forest Cafe and Bar. The unassuming and bland exterior against an abundance of other flashier dining establishments on Boundary St, West End's very own 'eat street,' also did little to assuage my fears. Add to this some negative reviews I had read on a certain 'spoon' website and the fact I'm a believer that you don't make friends with salad and you can forgive my initial scepticism.
Luckily I'm happy to report my Forest Cafe experience, while not perfect, added up to an overall hassle-free, wholesome and fantastic value for money lunchtime experience. Dining with my vegan out-of-town friend, my internet research led me to suggest trying this place, so I was conscious of the fact that should the experience fail miserably I would feel somewhat slightly responsible.
The Interior while forest themed is basic and cafeteria-like
After a longish wait, in a comfortable but fairly ordinary cafeteria style setting, I decided my final verdict on this place would have to come down to the actual food itself which I am pleased to say actually did impress. Both myself and my dining parter considered our orders to be great tasting, good quality and exceptional value. For a mere $8.50, (less than the price of most meals at fast food outlets and a whole lot healthier) I ordered the Tempeh burger (a nutty meat-esque soy bean based product similar to tofu) filled bursting with salad and a tomato chutney relish. The burger was extremely satisfying and being the first time I tried tempeh, I am excited to say I liked the flavour a lot more than some of the rubbery and bland tofu I have tried in the past. My friend had a veggie lentil burger with a sesame seed salad, which looked equally as appealing.
Spirulina and wheatgrass mango smoothie with tempeh, chutney & salad burger
This was all washed down with a healthy beverage, in my instance, a spirulina and wheatgrass mango smoothie ($5) which was thicker in consistency than I would liked, but still of good quality and extremely fresh tasting. After the wholesome meal I felt completely satisfied without the weighed down feeling of a pub lunch, which I'll admit is high up on the list of my favourite things.
After my visit to the Forest Cafe I was beginning to rethink my attitude on making friends with salad, and it surprises me to say that I think I've made friends with Tempeh - something new that I'll definitely be having again.
I had lunch at the Forest a few days ago for the first time in a long time and it was fabulous! It had gone downhill for a while but thankfully seems to have bounced back. Delicious, healthy food at a great price.