Ve­gan restau­rant The Al­ley.

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Con­tents - THE AL­LEY: RE­VIEWED BY ME­GAN MILLER

“EAT food. Not too much. Mostly plants,” is au­thor Michael Pol­lan’s fa­mous good-health mantra. Luck­ily these days that doesn’t mean munch­ing on car­rot sticks or bing­ing on broc­coli.

Mel­bourne has had a boom of plant-based eater­ies of late. The Al­ley is the most re­cent, join­ing the likes of Colling­wood’s all-ve­gan pizza joint Red Spar­row and ve­gan dessert bar Girls & Boys in Fitzroy.

Com­ing home af­ter nine years in New York work­ing at veg-fo­cused venues The Butcher’s Daugh­ter and the Fat Radish, Alexan­dra Pyke is be­hind this new ve­gan ven­ture on St Kilda Rd.

Opened in March, the 35-seater is pitched as a cafe for break­fast and lunch and Fri­day-night din­ner, but takes a fast-food ap­proach. Burg­ers will ap­peal to paid-up ve­g­ans as much as bun fans look­ing for a lighter treat.

The maple ba­con burger is a win­ner – a patty of mush­room, sweet potato and beans in a brioche bun with salad and a car­rot ketchup keep­ing things juicy, plus “ba­con” made from a co­conut con­coc­tion. It’s supremely sat­is­fy­ing.

So is the Hawai­ian burger. Bar­be­cued jack­fruit takes on the tex­ture of pulled pork and tan­gles with grilled pineap­ple, salad and aioli for a healthy trop­i­cal hit. The mac ’n’ cheese is a must, just as creamy and com­fort­ing here with­out dairy. The vegie meat­balls are also fan­tas­tic in a herby napoli sauce over roasted spaghetti squash.

For dessert, try the rich av­o­cadobased choco­late mousse, and to drink, there are smooth­ies, cold-pressed juices and bio­dy­namic wines on of­fer. Cof­fee is a Sen­sory Lab blend with a choice of non-dairy milk op­tions.

Or­der at the counter and en­joy in this sunny, pas­tel-trimmed spot with hang­ing green­ery, bi­cy­cles and park benches on the wall. Eat­ing all your ve­g­ies has never been so much fun.

From top: beet steak, maple ba­con and mi-so hun­gry burg­ers, the bright in­te­rior, and other dishes in­clud­ing kelp noo­dle salad.

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