Tag Archive for fine dining


noodle salad

I met up with some friends for dinner recently at Transformer. Both of them are non-vegan, and when we eat together they always let me choose the restaurant and eat vegan with me. What good friends!

I’d been wanting to get to Transformer since before it even opened so it was an easy choice. It is run by the owners of the Vegie Bar. I love the Vegie Bar, but its food is closer to cheap and cheerful comfort food rather than fine dining. There is a place for both. Transformer meets the fine dining brief really well.

The space at Transformer is lovely, divided into “rooms” by partitions, the tables are well spaced and well lit, which also just happens to be excellent for photography.

We really couldn’t organise ourselves to choose, since everything looked good, so we opted for the vegan version of the “Feed Me” option at $45 per person. I was expecting perhaps 6 or so dishes. I later discovered that this ACTUALLY means they feed you until you ask them to stop. In the end we had to beg for mercy. The only downside is the Feed Me option doesn’t include any dessert and we failed to leave any room for it.

Here is what we ate.

Pumpkin and pinenut dip with sourdough crisps.

Coconut oil popcorn with nori flakes.

Spelt and seed steamed buns with crispy fried tofu, pickled cucumber and gochujang mayo.

Soba and kelp noodles with silver beet, arame, nori, wasabi cashews and gojiberries.

Salad of roasted red and golden beetroot, grilled lemon, mint, avocado, radishes and dukkah with a cabernet and pomegranate glaze.

Grilled king oyster mushrooms with smoked leeks and confit garlic pinenut puree, porcini salt.

Jerusalem artichokes, confit parsnips, truffled onion puree and parsley oil.

Roasted cauliflower with golden raisins, red sorrel, saffron, mint, parsley and pistachios.

Roasted sweet potato with coconut yoghurt, lime and togarashi.

Smoked tofu skewers with pickled ginger and dried miso.

Freekeh, quinoa, kamut, lentil, barberry and hemp seed pilaf.

I loved all the dishes, but the real standouts for me were the steamed buns, the noodles, the sweet potatoes for their delicious simplicity and the confit parsnip and truffled onion puree on the Jerusalem artichoke dish. The only thing I didn’t enjoy were the Jerusalem artichokes and didn’t eat them, beyond one taste which confirmed my dislike!

It will be no hardship to return and leave room to eat dessert next time.

It is reasonably priced for really good food, when you want to go somewhere a bit fancier.


99 Rose St
Fitzroy, 3065
9419 2022


Transformer Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


mushroom filled pandan pancake

June was a busy month for mainstream restaurants offering vegan nights.

These are restaurants that always offer good vegan options on other nights, but the special nights were all vegan offerings.

The first was at B’stilla, which I went to, the second was at Woodland House, which I didn’t get to, and the third was another all vegan night at Dandelion in Elwood to celebrate Buddha’s birthday. Dandelion has won hats in the Age Good Food Guide for the last four years.

We ate 5 delicious courses of Vietnamese and Thai influenced food and also received a water blessing by a monk. The meal was great value at $65.

First up was a sweet potato, carrot and coconut soup with crispy toasted yam and taro garnished with purple basil. This was lightly spiced and utterly smooth and delicious.

Next was a beautiful pandan pancake filled with pine and enoki mushrooms with a peanut sauce and crispy fried betel leaves. Also delicious.

The next dish was probably the only disappointing dish of the night for me. It was a small salad of barley, pink quinoa, avocado mousse and fried chilli dressed with a mulberry vinaigrette, but it lacked flavour and it was shown up by the first two dishes completely.

The next course was a deeply complex vegetable green curry with choko, kohlrabi, cauliflower, pumpkin and some other vegetables which I don’t recall.  It was beautifully garnished with crispy lotus roots. It was accompanied by brown rice, some stir-fried tofu and snow peas in a mild yellow bean sauce, and a relish of pink grapefruit and herbs. The green snappy snow peas made a great textural contrast to the softer vegetables in the curry.

Two dessert dishes followed, a dark bittersweet chocolate mousse with a mangosteen sorbet, chunks of crunchy honeycomb and a pomegranate tuille. The mousse had a brulee top that gave a satisfying crunch. The mousse defeated me, it was so delicious, but so rich I had to give up up about half way.

Lastly a coconut, cashew butter and cumquat crispy slice/biscuit made a great finish with the coffee.

I loved my meal at Dandelion, the flavours ranged from delicate to bold, the food looked beautiful and I would be happy to return any time.

133 Ormond rd, Elwood
03 9531 4900



Last week we had another get together of our ad-hoc vegan dining group, this time at B’stilla,  a Moroccan restaurant in South Yarra. On a cold and rainy Monday night we headed out for a special vegan dinner they were holding. Eight of us had booked in for the dinner. Three veg*n bloggers were at the table and so I’m sure the dinner will be eventually blogged by all of us.

I’d heard some good things about how the restaurant catered well for vegans and some more lukewarm reviews. I was staying open-minded, but I confess I was a bit scared as I really don’t like saffron and I’m a bit funny about sweet spices with savoury food. Both of these are pretty central to Moroccan cuisine.

We settled onto our table which was cosily tucked into a corner where we could carry on a decent conversation. Some of us opted for the paired wines ($30 for 4 glasses), others stuck with mocktails and I had a foot in both camps starting with a refreshing apple, mint cucumber mocktail and moving on later to shiraz. The other mocktail was a rosewater lemonade which I am told was delicious, if you are a fan of rosewater, which I am not.

Once we were all seated with our drinks, the food started to arrive pretty rapidly, so rapidly I thought we were going to be done in less than an hour. There was a grilled Moroccan batbout flatbread with a tomato and citrus jam, some incredible fried baby okra spiced with zhoug, a green chilli, parsley, coriander, cumin and various other spices mix. These were the ultimate beer snack, crisp, soft,  salty and spicy – I could happily have eaten the whole bowl. Next up was a small bowl of harira, a spicy, zingy lemon soup.

There was a small pause before that most Moroccan of dishes arrived, b’stilla. Traditionally these are meaty, but these were made of eggplant and pumpkin, wrapped in the thin brik pastry and decorated with the tradtional dusting of icing sugar and cinnamon. I liked mine, the sweet/savoury combination worked well with the vegetables, though the bottom of the pastry was almost impossible to cut through.

The b’stilla were accompanied by two wonderful salads, a Moroccan slaw and a roasted beetroot and walnut salad. The slaw was almost my pick of dish of the night just beaten by the okra. It was dressed with a mildly spicy chilli dressing and packed with small bites of almond and apricots. The beetroot was spiced, roasted and served with a delicious green chermoula and walnuts. There was a lot going on with the spices and the earthy beetroot and the creamy walnuts.

Another merciful pause before the arrival of the root vegetable and chickpea tagine with couscous. By this time we were getting pretty full! Firstly, the couscous. This was the nicest, lightest couscous I have ever eaten. Clearly I have to lift my game from the instant variety! The tagine was delicious, and sprinkled with crunchy pumpkin seeds which made for a nice textural contrast. But most of us were defeated by now and could only manage a small portion.

Finally, the dessert was a saffron rice pudding with freeze-dried berries and pistachios. I loved this from a textural point of view and for the sweet flavour, but the saffron was a killer for me, I really don’t like it. Otherwise a great dessert and saffron lovers would be very happy.

rice pudding

The banquet was a bargain at $45 and I’d be very happy to return. I think I’ve overcome my fear of Moroccan food. 🙂

30 Bray St
South Yarra, 3141
(03) 9826 2370

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