As an omnivore I suppose I have it easy in terms of food choices. If I make a vegetable curry it’s because that’s what I feel like eating, not because it’s vegetarian. If I make it with vegetable oil instead of ghee it’s probably vegan, but by concidence rather than design.
My perspective presumably makes me a bad judge of vegan food. I enjoyed the curry I had at Radhey, and my meal at Smith and Daughters, both on Brunswick St. Smith and Daughters is good, though there are perhaps too many deep fried dishes on the menu, and I’ve not felt the desire to return.
In general, I like trying new things and so wanted to try their new Smith and Deli on Moor St. I met a vegetarian friend for lunch at the all vegan New York style deli and we ordered The Temple of Doom for her (turkey, jalapenos, corn, cabbage, etc), the Little Havana for me (ham, turkey, cheese, pickles etc) and a challah sticky bun to share. We took our lunch to the nearby Whitlam Place to eat.
I’d make a bad vegan. Existentially I don’t get the concept of mock meat, and so a sandwich full of squishy soft mock meat and tasteless fake cheese is really just a lot of squishy stuff and chilli. The bun, however, was indistinguishable from a comparable one made with butter and was absolutely delicious.
For an omnivore who likes taste and values variety in texture, however, these sandwiches can’t compare with real ingredients. The roast beef, tomato and cheese sandwich I had a couple of days earlier at Slowpoke was incomparably better. Every ingredient had a unique taste and texture that can’t be replicated.
Smith and Deli have created a high quality range for vegans but it is not one that can easily compete with other places for non-vegan eaters. The skill in baking the bun is obvious and the results must be tantilising for vegans. I’d eat one of those again, but not the sandwiches.