Brunswick eats: The Cornish Arms and Tom Phat

A couple of weeks ago, I managed to cram two visits to Brunswick in the one week. Not one to miss a good vegan dining opportunity, I made the most of being over that side of town.

Firstly, I had a much overdue catch up with a lovely friend of mine for a few drinks. After working up our hunger over a few drinks, she recommended we head over to Tom Phat for a bite to eat. The smell when we walked in was amazing, and I was pretty excited to find multiple options clearly marked as vegan on the menu.

We decided to get two dishes and share them both. The first was Nasi Mesantan with tofu fritters, spiced red rice and chilli-tomato sambal.

ImageIt looks a bit like a mish mash of everything here, but let me tell you – these tofu balls were delicious – crispy on the outside, but really light and almost fluffy inside. Loved the spiced rice and sambal too.

ImageThe second dish was off the specials list, and it was a kind of satay tofu and tempeh salad, with strips of roti bread. The addition of roti bread was kind of strange, but very welcome – it was great to dip in the sauce. I loved the texture of the tofu in this one too, it was cooked in thin slabs and had a great chewiness to it.

These were both really substantial meals, and we couldn’t quite get through them both, but that had nothing to do with their tastiness. We both really enjoyed our meal. The service was fast and friendly, and to be honest, I was surprised they let us come in at 9.30-ish on a Sunday night (but totally glad!)

Next up was a visit to the Cornish Arms on one of those scorching summer days. It was one of the ones that was disgustingly hot all day, and then the skies opened in the evening for a downpour. Luckily, we managed to grab a seat outside, but undercover, and we got to watch the lightning show from the front row. It was a little dicey for a moment there as the pub lost power amongst the storminess and we thought our hopes of a feed there were lost, but luckily the outage only lasted five minutes or so.

As I said in my last post, I’m pretty stoked by the masses of vegan pub food appearing everywhere. I love being able to order a parmy and pot, or whatever else takes my fancy. This time, I decided to do something a bit different and order the beer battered fish and chips. This is different for me as I my memories of fish are not very fond, so I wasn’t at all sure whether I would like this or not. It was too novelty for me not to try though…

ImageThe meals here are not for the faint hearted. I was not SUPER hungry, but this was also A LOT of fried food. But that’s what we were there for! I was surprised at how the fish was served – I guess I was expecting flatter ‘fillets’ rather than big chunky balls. Nevertheless, I quite enjoyed it. The to-fish was wrapped in seaweed before being battered, and was accompanied with a convincing tartare sauce. While I found it pretty tasty, I only got through one piece of fish, with Billy taking two for the team and one lonely little guy being left behind.

ImageBilly went with the ‘steak’ sandwich, which consisted of duck seitan, facon, cheez along with some fillings. We swapped a few bites, and both found it thoroughly enjoyable. In my mind I had expected the eggplant chips to be more finger-like in shape, but I loved these crumbed rounds. I could have eaten a whole bowl of them!

This was one of those occasions where we had to let our tummies digest for some time before we even tried to stand up, and Billy declared that he “would never eat again!” As we know from other posts, this has turned out to be untrue, but you understand the sentiment.

The Cornish Arms is a great place for some solid vegan pub food. I’m definitely keen to try some of their other offerings, but I think next time I’ll try and work up a decent appetite before I tackle a whole meal.

Tom Phat
182-184 Sydney Rd, Brunswick
Weekdays – 11am – 10pm
Weekends – 8am – 10pm

The Cornish Arms
163A Sydney Rd, Brunswick
Kitchen hours (every day):
Lunch: 12pm – 3pm
Dinner: 6pm – 9.30pm
Pizza & Snacks available every day from 3pm – 9.30pm


  1. Oh goody! Your posts are great for teaching me about new places I need to eat at in Melbourne 😀 Even though there is so much food around, I think we can get stuck in food ruts sometimes – going to the same establishments and eating the same menu items each time. I’m going to have to get out of my comfort zone and give these both a go soon!

    1. Oh my goodness, there are just SO many places to eat in Melbourne! It’s a little overwhelming! When I lived here last, I definitely didn’t make the most of all that was available to me, and like you said, you tend to frequent the same places over and over. I think coming back and being fresh after living in Hobart, which is beautiful but certainly doesn’t have the same range of vegan food on offer, I’m just so excited to be here and eat ALL the food…haha x

    1. Hey Peta! I know right, it’s pretty crazy – there are all kinds of mock meats, from prawn to duck! The ‘fish’ here was tofu based, and the seaweed in there gave it that ‘seafood’ feeling. There is so much vegan pub food around Melbourne now, pretty much all the classics like fish and chips and parmigianas have been veganised!

  2. How innovative is that food?! Seaweed wrapped fried tofu ‘fillets’ and seitan duck?! I don’t think I’ve ever seen any vegan pub food to rival those over on the west side. We generally just have some sort of bean burger patty (not knocking those, they’re pretty delicious) or falafel. Great post, I’d love to try the tofu balls in the first picture. They sound delish! xx

    1. I know, right? And more and more of this sort of fare is popping up…there’s a pub over this side in South Yarra doing vegan alternatives – prawns, rissoles, chowders, etc that I’m yet to visit too. I love a good bean burger/falafel, but it’s definitely nice to have more choice 🙂

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