I am an Australian freelance writer living in Adelaide.
Published November 8th 2011
Just the name of this café sounds like the kind of place where hippies go to eat; but it is Brunswick Street after all. I first heard of Vegie Bar when I moved into an apartment a few streets away in Collingwood. My housemate raved about the place and was always there, so I thought it was about time I see what she was on about.
Vegie Bar doesn't take reservations and there are always queues outside so we decided to turn up at 6.30pm on a Saturday night. It was already full, yet we were told some people had been there all afternoon so if we wanted to have a drink outside at the bar, we could get a table shortly. Because of my housemate's hype, we decided to wait it out.
The bar was far quieter and a great place to have a drink. After we'd ordered and paid though, we were being summoned- our table was ready. As a sometimes vegetarian, I was so excited to prise open the menu and see what delights lay before us. Due to an investigation as to whether I had coeliac disease or not, I had to be cautious with what ate and this greatly minimised my options.
The Organic Lentil Burger with salad and satay sauce caught my eye, as did the Mexican Burrito with spinach and mushrooms, plus the usual rice, melted cheese, chilli, sour cream and guacamole. Only problem - both had wheat. To be as healthy and safe as possible, I went for the Original Stir fry - vegetables and tofu (soybeans) cooked in ginger and garlic, served with brown rice and a satay, tamari (soy sauce but made with more soybeans) or tahini sauce. I stupidly asked for the tahini sauce. Tahini is ground sesame seeds mashed with garlic and it was disgusting. It made the entire meal taste bland. I didn't even eat half of it.
Cubes of tofu
My friends were wiser. The Polenta Stack with sun dried tomato, olive and parmesan polenta (cornmeal), roast vegetables, feta, spinach and capsicum with a red pepper and tomato relish looked great. And the Bengali Kofta Curry had vegetable and ricotta kofta in a mildly spiced split pea dahl (lentils), served on brown rice with a chunky raita (yoghurt) and chutney had so many textures.
Given all my explanations above regarding what ingredients in some dishes were, this place may prove a little difficult for those whose palate isn't creative. From my experience, all I can say is, coeliacs beware. However, if you need a hand getting your recommended five-a-day veggies into you, this is definitely the place to go.