25th January 2010

Gaby’s Deli

30 Charing Cross Rd, London WC2, UK

There’s a whiff of New York Jewish about this place, as there is of Mittel Europa (a friend of Hungarian background pronounces the goulash excellent.) But for veg*ns, the chief interest will be the dishes from the Middle East, among them falafel with hummus in warm pitta bread, and the fine array of salads, both cooked (the potato and aubergine are recommended) and raw (tomato with onion is hard to beat.) The mood is laid back, the food excellent and reasonably priced.

Take the tube to Leicester Square; Gaby’s is on the eastern side of Charing Cross Rd. It’s wonderfully located for various activities in central London: theatres are all around, to the north lie the serious bookshops of Charing Cross Rd, while just to the south are the National Gallery and Trafalgar Square, beyond which it’s a gentle stroll to Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament.

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17th January 2010

Piedmont Inn Pizza Restaurant

248 Great Western Highway, Blackheath NSW

A significant milestone in the lives of some good friends brought a sizeable number of us together in the Blue Mountains, a bit over two hours west of Sydney by train. While Italian restaurants are usually fine for vegetarians, and this place is renowned for the quality of its pizzas, they can prove a bit tricky for vegans. However, the chef kindly offered to cook a mushroom risotto using olive oil in place of butter, and the result was excellent, beautifully moist while densely textured, the mushroom taste coming through loud and clear. Such a dish needs to be followed by something that cleanses the palate, and as it happens the sorbets here are water based, offering a genuinely fruity taste rather than bland sweetness. People of the most diverse dietary habits left the restaurant in the best of cheer, and after such a happy evening it only remains to wish the wonderful couple who had been responsible for our coming together: Many Years!

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10th January 2010

Fountain Court Chinese Restaurant

135 Prince St Grafton NSW

If you’re lucky enough to be walking away from the river along the left-hand side of the main street in Grafton,

Where the lordly River Clarence flows in splendour to the sea

And the stately jacaranda blooms in regal majesty

(spare me the adjectives!), after a few blocks you’ll pass the entrances to two Chinese restaurants. That nearer the intersection with Bacon St, the Fountain Court, is the one you want. You can order cashews or tofu with vegetables (if you go for the latter, it may be an idea to check that it will be cooked in vegetarian fashion), while from a Thai section at the back of the menu you can order the same vegetables in various sauces. The servings are generous and the staff friendly, two things I always think of as being characteristic of a country town and the people who live there. It’s possible to sit back with a VB and give thanks that you are in Grafton.

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2nd January 2010

A Night in India

58 High St, Toowong Qld

Even by the standards of Indian restaurants, the veggie menu here is extensive. It includes a good number of stand-alone dishes, such as several varieties of dahl, pumpkin, and ‘creamy’ mushroom (the chef will happily prepare this vegan-style on request.) There are also numerous dishes that can be served with vegetables, potatoes or paneer, among which the mughlai,  made with date and tamarind, is a particular favourite. A good range of starter dishes (the vegie samosas, which come on a bed of salad, are particularly good) and incidentals complement the main dishes. The food here is excellent; the staff invariably friendly and obliging. This restaurant is a real treasure.

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