Smith and Daughters is a new vegan restaurant on Brunswick St, which is located in the building formerly occupied by De Los Santos. The food is predominantly based on the central and south American dishes and flavours that are currently fashionable.

As an omnivore I’ll eat almost anything as long as it’s tasty and the food at Smith and Daughters is commendable. I tend to avoid mock meat, and don’t understand the point of it, and my dining companion and I ordered accordingly to (mostly) avoid it.

We shared (from the top down): sopa de frijoles negros (Brazilian black bean soup with avocado salsa), chiles rellenos (a large grilled pepper that is stuffed with mock chorizo, battered and deep fried, and served with red rice), tamales with mushrooms and nopales (cactus), champinones al ajillo (button mushrooms in a smoked paprika sauce, served with toast, not photographed) and a serve each of divine little doughnuts with quince jam.

smithdaughters1 dinner at Smith and Daughters on Brunswick St

The black bean soup is so thick it’s almost a dip, and is hearty and filling. The tamales is delicious but smallish, so you only get a couple of bites if you’re sharing. The mushrooms were my favourite, but the stuffed pepper was overall the most impress dish we tried: full of flavour, more substantial in size and with a perfect buzz of chilli. The doughnuts with quince jam are perfect. I could eat about 3 serves (of five).

smithdaughters2 dinner at Smith and Daughters on Brunswick St

You can read many gushing reviews of Smith and Daughters, but most of them are from freeloaders who went to the opening party. There’s only one other that I have found, from Where’s the beef, that describes a paid-for meal. I share their enthusiasm.

smithdaughters3 dinner at Smith and Daughters on Brunswick St

It does have its limitations though. The wine list is ordinary, with three of the four reds available by the glass unlabelled Victorian ‘house’ wines (AKA cleanskins). The tempranillo I tried was surprisingly acceptable, however, so they may do better to say which wineries they come from. The drinks menu is skewed significantly towards more expensive cocktails, which is where much of the potential profit is.

The layout inside has not changed significantly, with the bar in the same space as it was before, but they’ve managed to squeeze more seats in. It’s cosy and, if seated at the communal table in the middle of the floor, bordering on uncomfortable. The shallow depth of the communal table makes it difficult to accommodate a few shared plates and the stools discourage lingering, at least for those with middle aged backs.

smithdaughters4 dinner at Smith and Daughters on Brunswick St

It’s a relief to see a new restaurant or similar food business open that understands its place in the local environment and its audience so well. Brunswick St has been in decline for a couple of years, with Smith St ascending to new amazing heights, but Brunswick St is still vegetarian and vegan central. It’s the right place for Smith and Daughters to be and is sure to be rewarded with many loyal customers. If a few more smart business operators can see a clear niche and fill it so well Brunswick St may yet be saved from its decline.

dinner at Smith and Daughters on Brunswick St

7 thoughts on “dinner at Smith and Daughters on Brunswick St

  • 25 April 2014 at 9:28 am

    Great to see an unsponsored meat-eater’s review of Smith & Daughters, and that it measured up. I’m optimistic that it’s the right time and place for them – I think a veg-friendly city like Melbourne is long overdue for a slick vegan bar.

    • 26 April 2014 at 12:42 am

      It’s high on my hitlist for when I get back to Melbourne – my curiosity, she is piqued. (Let me know if you’d like to join me!)

  • 26 April 2014 at 9:29 am

    The wine list issues might be to do with the difficulty of finding wines that aren’t fined with fish and/or egg products – they’re surprisingly rare.

    • 26 April 2014 at 10:27 am

      That’s a good point, but I don’t recall a statement in the menu claiming the wines were all vegan. It makes sense of course, but it doesn’t seem to be there – see a pic of the relevant page of the menu.

      Cheaper, mass produced wines often have been processed more to make mediocre fruit palatable, such as by fining to reduce rough tannins. Unfined wines tend to be of the small batch artisanal variety and cost more than the wines being offered at Smith and Daughters.

      If they are offering all vegan friendly wines that’s a marketing point they should be making more of, but I doubt they are given the prices and without clarification from the menu.

      Producers often fail to see the benefit in labelling their vegan friendly accordingly. In a previous life as an online marketing manager for a large Australian winery I fought a battle for months to get this information to the public, and the company failed to continue to publish this information after I left.

      Only a few producers take the initiative to share this information with their customers, such as Yalumba. If I was a serious vegan I would trust only information that comes direct from producers and what is labelled on bottles, not what third party websites say is fined without animal products, as there is uncertainty about the sources and accuracy of this information.

        • 27 April 2014 at 5:13 pm

          I think a clarification would help diners and make them feel more confident ordering wine if it was declared that none of it used animal body parts (usually isinglass, made from fish bladders), not just animal products like milk or eggs.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *