Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Lankan Tucker

November 26, 2016



We've been keen to check out Lankan Tucker since it opened in Brunswick West earlier this year. The location - tucked way down the western end of Albion Street near Lolo & Wren - isn't super convenient, but the combination of breakfast and roti bread was enough to convince us to make the bike ride.


It's a cute little place, with a mix of indoor and outdoor seating and lots of light streaming in. The idea of a place serving up brunchy dishes with a Sri Lankan twist is perfectly targeted at me - I'm generally keen on curry for breakfast and double so if I can somehow combine it with eggs. It's a bit surprising that so few places are doing this - the only other place I can think of is the vegan about town-endorsed Pavlov's Duck.

The menu is long, with a mix of conventional brunch dishes (granola, omelettes, avo smash, etc) and more interesting Sri Lankan-inspired dishes (lots of roti plus interesting snacks like vadai and lunch food like dosa and hoppers). We were too early for the lunch menu so we'll have to come back to explore some more.


I went for the roti riser, a combination of roti bread, veggie curry, coconut sambal, a poached egg and apricot chutney ($17.50). Add on a few spoonfuls of the excellent chilli sauce they had on the table, and I was in heaven. The roti was soft and stretchy, a much better vessel for breakfast than boring old toast, and the combination of the mildly spicy veggie curry and the egg was perfect. Coconut sambal is probably the world's best condiment, so this ticked a lot of boxes for me.

The lack of any really interesting sweet dishes on the menu meant that Cindy went for a slightly less Sri Lankan vibe. She ordered the rolled omelette brekky burger ($17.90), a brioche bun overstuffed with eggs, battered fried mushrooms, a potato rosti, avocado, onion, wilted spinach, tomato and chilli jam. 


This wasn't quite as successful - piled high on a wooden board, it seemed to be presented more for instagram than for eating. The clued-in staff offered Cindy a side plate from the get-go, and she used it to pick off the copious raw onion, enjoy half the toppings piece-by-piece, and eventually dig into her omelette-burger.


I really enjoyed my breakfast at Lankan Tucker - the staff were lovely, the coffee (by Sensory Labs) was excellent and ability to order curry for breakfast highly appreciated. Here's hoping that brunch/curry crossover places are the next big Melbourne food craze.

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I couldn't find any non-freebie blog reviews of Lankan Tucker - hopefully it will build a following over the months ahead.
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Lankan Tucker
486 Albion St, Brunswick West
9386 8248
all day breakfastbrekky specialsbites & wrapslunch, salads & kids'drinks
http://www.lankantucker.com/

Accessibility: Entry is flat and wide and the interior is reasonably spacious. There's a single non-gendered bathroom that's completely accessible and includes a baby change table. We ordered at our table and paid at a low counter.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

The Lincoln

Cheap Eats 2006, a decade on

November 22, 2016


Hotel Lincoln (now called The Lincoln) has had several changes in management in the decade we've known it. This has meant a few makeovers in look and menu, although I think the atmosphere has been pretty consistent. The front bar has the typical Melbourne pub feel, while the dining room out back is much fancier. There have never been more than a couple of vegetarian options available, although we've enjoyed the ones we've had. When we visited as part of a large group recently, we were happy to order their set menu (The Half Lincoln, $45 per person) and let them show us how broad their vegetarian options really were.

The appetisers were light and fun - individual crackers piled with pink pickles, and kelp-salted edamame that kept our hands busy as we chatted.


One of the meal's high points was the shared entree of roasted cauliflower with a medley of buckwheat, pomegranate seeds, currants and mint. The puffed-up crunch of the buckwheat was unexpected and welcome, a switch-around on the Ottolenghi-style grain salads we seek and eat so often.


(Clockwise from top-left:) Asparagus with fried egg mayo and toasted crumbs was a winning side, the triple-cooked cooked could never have gone wrong, and a plate of cos hearts with fresh curd and shallots kept up the right ratio of green. I was skeptical of their teaming lentils with seaweed in the mushroom dish: the result was better than I expected, but not one of the night's favourites.


Dessert was another memorable point: Michael and I shared a feather-light beetroot and chocolate pudding. While it wasn't strongly flavoured, it was served in a pool of perrrrrfect anglaise.

The Lincoln's daily menu didn't much excite us vegos, but they're professionals who delivered a great experience. Staff were enormously accommodating of our group's various dietary requirements and various choices to eat communally via the Half Lincoln and individually a la carte.  The lentil-mushroom dish is the one official vegetarian main currently on menu, but through the Half Lincoln we learned that some of the sides are even better. With cheese and eggs liberally served throughout our meal, it remains to be seen how well they'd cater to vegans.

Staff didn't hinder us from chatting and chair-swapping into the night, even as the rest of the pub emptied out, and were easy-going as we split the last of the bill. I daresay they helped Melbourne make a great impression on our globe-trotting guests of honour, who are usually found fine-dining their way through DC.

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You can also read about one, two of our previous visits to Hotel Lincoln. Fellow veg blogger Nouveau Potato was less impressed.

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The Lincoln
91 Cardigan St, Carlton
9347 4666
menu
http://hotellincoln.com.au/

Accessibility: Entry is flat. Indoors is quite crowded with high and low tables with stools and backed seats, respectively. We ordered at our table and paid while standing by the bar (but not across it). We didn't visit the toilets.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Pellegrini's

Cheap Eats 2006, a decade on

November 16, 2016


Our Cheap Eats project has mostly been about revisiting places we blogged way back in the day, but we're also using it to visit some long-overlooked Melbourne stalwarts. When we needed a quick dinner up at the Parliament end of the city, it seemed like the perfect excuse to finally visit one of Melbourne's institutions: Pellegrini's. It's been trading on Bourke Street since 1954 and by all reports very little has changed in 62 years - there's a wooden board listing different pasta dishes, scrappily decorated walls and staff chatting away in Italian. 


It's charming enough, but the bar seating is a little awkward in a group of four. The staff were reasonably helpful taking, us through the vego dishes - the choices are pretty simple: pick from one of a handful of pasta options and then choose either pesto or napoli. I ordered the ricotta ravioli with the napoli sauce (~$18). It was fine - very basic and quite old-fashioned food, served without much care for its presentation - but satisfyingly huge and tasty for all of that. 


Cindy went for fettucine with a pesto sauce (~$18). As with the ravioli, this was nothing fancy, but the pasta was fresh, which is the key for such a simple dish. The servings were huge, and the half a white roll we were each served on the side seemed like an unnecessary carb boost. 


I'm not sure how I feel about our Pellegrini's visit. It's obviously a hugely nostalgic experience for many Melbournites, with an unpretentious vibe that seems almost entirely unchanged since Italian food was impossibly exotic. Without that connection though, I'm not sure it really measures up - the food is a little uninspiring and when you're paying nearly $20 for fettucine with some pesto stirred through it, it really needs to be amazing. On the plus side, everything happens super fast - our food turned up almost immediately after we ordered it - so it's good if you want something hearty but you're in a bit of a hurry. The watermelon granitas we all ordered to drink (~$3 each) were tops too. 

Looking over the brief review in our 2006 Cheap Eats Guide it's clear that Pellegrini's have just kept doing their thing over the past decade, right down to the old dude flirting with the women customers. Prices have gone up a bit - from $12-$14 in 2006 to roughly $18 these days, but otherwise they're just doing what they do. It's not somewhere we'll visit often, but I'm still glad it exists.

The rest of our night was spent at the quite wonderful Hush event at Melbourne Music Week - a series of wonderful bands playing short sets around Parliament House. It was pretty special.



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Pellegrini's 
66 Bourke St, Melbourne
9662 1885

Accessibility: There's a small step up on entry and a pretty crowded interior. You order and pay at the bar. We didn't visit the toilets.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Peanut butter-coconut granola

November 14-15, 2016


Granola, fruit and yoghurt has been my default breakfast for quite a while. I usually bake this granola, but I was ready to try something new when I saw a peanut butter granola recipe on stonesoup earlier this month. Like most of the recipes on that blog it's grain-free, with peanuts, flaked coconut and flaked almonds taking the place of my usual rolled oats.

I'm unsure whether my granola had the intended texture. Nuts don't absorb liquids like rolled oats do, so my granola didn't dry out or become more crunchy as it baked (the peanuts and almond were pretty crunchy, nevertheless). A slick of peanut butter and coconut oil remained on the nuts and in the baking tray even as I worried about overbaking it all.

I liked teaming this granola with bananas and almond milk. I learned that peanuts aren't my favourite granola ingredient, but I'll definitely be bringing the peanut butter-binder and coconut flake elements into my granola-baking habits.



Peanut butter-coconut granola
(recipe from stonesoup)

25g coconut oil
100g peanut butter
125g coconut flakes
250g roasted unsalted peanuts
100g flaked almonds

Preheat an oven to 150°C. Line a large baking tray with paper.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the coconut oil. Turn off the heat and stir in the peanut butter until well mixed.

In a medium-large bowl, stir together the the coconut flakes, peanuts and almonds. Pour over the peanut butter mixture and stir everything to combine well. Turn the mixture out onto the lined baking tray and spread it out evenly. 

Bake for 15-30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes for even cooking. Allow the granola to cool on the tray before storing.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Molasses & walnut icecream

November 12, 2016


Our tempeh & grits dinner was the core of a three-course Vegan Soul Kitchen meal. We started with Spicy Goobers, peanuts in a spice mix similar to that of the tempeh. For dessert I had this icecream at the ready.

Bryant Terry hit on the same vegan icecream base that I've used for years: coconut milk thickened with arrowroot. He sweetens his primarily with agave nectar, but adds a shot of molasses because it reminds him of his grandmother's desserts. The icecream's other feature is a scattering of candied walnuts. They're an irresistible snack on their own, as well as working well in this icecream - caramelly sweet, crunchy and lightly roasted with the faintest hint of bitterness. The overall effect is very similar to my vegan salted caramel icecream.

The icecream's texture was dreamy on the day of churning, but the leftovers ended up a bit grainier as the week went on. So share this one around and enjoy it all right away, at its peak.



Molasses & walnut icecream
(slightly adapted from a recipe in Bryant Terry's Vegan Soul Kitchen)

candied walnuts
1 cup walnuts
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons agave nectar
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar

molasses icecream
2 x 400mL cans coconut milk
2 tablespoons arrowroot
1/2 cup agave nectar
1 tablespoon molasses
2 teaspoons vanilla
pinch of salt

In a medium bowl, stir the olive oil through the walnuts to evenly coat them. Stir through the agave nectar, and then finally the sugar to evenly coat the nuts.

Line a large baking tray with paper. Set a frypan over medium heat and pour in the walnuts. Stir them regularly as they toast, until they're fragrant and most of the liquid has evaporated. Turn off the heat and spread the nuts out over the baking tray. Allow them to cool to room temperature.

In a mug, stir together 1/4 cup of the coconut milk and the arrowroot until it's all smooth. In a medium-large saucepan, combine the remaining coconut milk, agave nectar, molasses, vanilla and salt. Set it over medium-high heat and stir in the arrowroot-coconut mixture. Keep stirring the mixture to avoid it sticking to the bottom, cooking until it's thickened to coat the back of a spoon - up to 10 minutes. Refrigerate until completely cold, ideally overnight.

Strain the icecream mixture and churn it in an icecream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. Add the walnuts in the last couple of minutes of churning. Transfer the icecream to an airtight container and freeze for about 4 hours before serving.