Don’t be fooled by the menu. Despite words such as “meatballs”, “prosciutto” and “parmesan” being thrown about, everything that leaves the kitchen at this rocking joint is entirely plant-based. Queen of Melbourne’s vegan scene, owner-chef Shannon Martinez is a whiz at devising her own secret recipes that mimic meat while keeping their ethical credentials intact. Need convincing? Dive into a hearty plate of pasta with vodka Napoli and “meatballs” or a texturally sound “carpaccio” loaded with horseradish cream, fried capers and perfectly salty-sour “parmesan”. The Italian menu isn’t completely fixated on the faux: garlicky chickpeas on soft polenta is a classic comfort dish. For a chance to enjoy the surprisingly broad horizons of plant-centred dining, there’s no better.
175 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy; (03) 9939 3293; open Saturday-Sunday for lunch and Tuesday-Sunday for dinner
Image credit: Lauren Bamford