Vegan restaurant The Alley.
“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.