It's customary to find meat-based counter meals on any pub menu in Melbourne. Yet, pubs are taking note of their patrons' increasing demands for specific dietary needs. Melburnians are spoilt for choice when it comes to food at pubs these days and there's a healthy rise of vegetarian and vegan meals and snacks being scrawled across chalkboards in inner-city pubs. Here is just a small cross-section of pubs and bars catering for the meat-free trade.
Whole Lotta Love lies where Lygon and Albion Streets collide. It's a destination complete with couches, stools and open-air deck out the back to give patrons a sleek, rock-star location for drinks, cocktails and nibbles. Whole Lotta Love embodies its namesake – its walls are emblazoned with a live shot of Led Zeppelin onstage and an exploding Hindenburg airship. Whole Lotta Love rocks out to alternative anthems both past and present, and is an entirely vegan and environmentally friendly bar.
A lengthy drinks list awaits patrons – beers stem from local breweries and those further afield (Sweden and New Zealand). Patrons with a stronger urge can opt for a rider of single malt whiskeys, Motorhead Mojito, Janis Joplin's Slipper and Harvey Head Banger cocktails. Those who need a snack can order pies sourced from La Panella Bakery (Preston's vegan and vegetarian bakery) or a trio of dips with olives. Mexican, curry or margarita jaffles are also known to make a cameo appearance on occasion. Snacks cost only as much as some drinks in some instances; between $4 and $10.
524 Lygon Street East Brunswick Victoria 3104
Hours: Sun 3pm-10pm, Wed-Thurs 5.30pm-11pm, Fri 3pm-1am, Sat 1pm-1am
The Tramway Hotel is tucked away from Nicholson Street. One of Melbourne's historic pubs, it was revived in 2011 after a fresh facelift. Now, this Fitzroy North watering hole is a modern pub with a prominent burger list. Tramway's quinoa and hummus burger offers a quinoa and hummus basil patty crowned by layers of cos lettuce, tomato and red onion, almond mayonnaise and encased in a multi-grain bun. A portobello mushroom burger with facon (fake bacon) tempeh is also on hand as an alternative to its quinoa cousin. Burgers are paired with coleslaw and hand-cut chips; plentiful, vegan friendly and will only set patrons back $16 each. Together with a white-washed dining room, bespoke fireplace and adjoining rustic bar, The Tramway Hotel sets the scene for a lazy Sunday afternoon session of burgers and micro-brewed pints of beer and cider.
165 Rae Street Fitzroy North Victoria 3068
Hours: Tues-Wed 4pm-11pm, Thurs 4pm-11.30pm, Fri 4pm-midnight, Sat 12pm-midnight, Sun 12pm-10.30pm, kitchen Tues-Thurs 5.30pm-9pm, Fri 5.30pm-9.30pm, Sat 12.30pm-9.30pm, Sun 12.30pm-8.30pm
The Cornish Arms is Brunswick East's prolific live music venue and pub where patrons can indulge with a well-stocked menu. Patrons are able to thumb through a couple of pages of vegan and vegetarian choices ranging in style and price. Vegan burritos stuffed with black bean chilli, matched with side salad, corn chips and guacamole is a regularly visited option. Mushroom burgers served with chips is a solid standard, along with red wine risotto, vegan soy "fish" and chips and freshly baked pizzas. A new addition to the list – felafels are home-made and served with dukkah-spiced fried cauliflower, fresh hommus and crispy side salad for a light meal choice. Mains are $20 and under; patrons can also expect to find weekly specials that change regularly. The Cornish Arms has also cornered the dessert arm of its menu with vegan cheesecake choices. The kitchen offers choices of flavours ranging from peanut butter, berry, choc-cherry or jaffa. The flavour varies from week to week and subject to availability. It's best to order dessert early on in the night.
163A Sydney Road Brunswick Victoria 3056
Hours: Mon-Tues 3pm-late, Wed-Sun 12pm- late, kitchen for lunch Wed-Sun 3pm-9.30pm, kitchen for dinner every day 6pm-9.30pm
The Fox Hotel is where patrons can find an intimate dining room, not to mention a warm, welcoming vibe, pub bands and lashings of comfort food. The traffic is left to drone along Alexandra Parade as patrons push through the entrance and into the inner sanctum of The Fox's cosy surrounds. Extensive local and imported beer choices are available as well as a hearty menu. Patrons can grab a pint from the bar (bar-staff are more than willing to make recommendations) and head to the secluded dining area that's decked out in kitsch furnishings or the airy roof-top beer garden.
A mezze plate is a decent start to a night, piled with Turkish bread, dolmades, haloumi and olives in chilli and garlic oil, hummus and beetroot dip. Vegetarian moussaka with haloumi, chips and salad or a bowl of gnocchi dressed in basil and pine nut pesto, mushroom, spinach, semi-dried tomato and fetta serve as substantial pub meals that won't leave patrons under-nourished. The marinated tofu wrapped in nori and stuffed with wild rice, mushroom and cabbage served with Asian greens is an upmarket choice for those looking for something less pub. Vegetarian mains fall under the $20 mark and some can be made vegan upon request. The kitchen is open every night of the week and it's a good idea to turn up early or book a table.