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

A day of deliciousness: Admiral Cheng-Ho, Gelato Messina and Reverence Hotel

Yesterday was a good day. Not only did I get to have hangs with Billy and family and see some bands, we also got to eat some really delicious food. What more could I ask for? Good company + good music + good food = happy.

While trying to decide on somewhere to eat, my mum suggested Admiral Cheng-Ho, which she had read about online. I was only too happy with this decision as it was definitely on my ‘to-do’ list after reading about Cindy and Michael’s visit there a couple of weeks ago.

We wandered in for a late-ish lunch and were greeted and seated by the friendly staff there. Looking over the menu there was plenty of deliciousness, and the majority of it was already vegan (with much of the remainder having the option to be). They do an all-day breakfast (yay!) as well as a selection of sandwiches and salads for lunch.

I was pretty sold on the breakfast menu, and though I loved the sound of the quinoa pancakes I was definitely in the mood for something savoury. I (along with most of our party) went with ‘The Admiral’ – zucchini fritters with sauteed kale, seasonal vegetables, tangy beetroot relish and basil cashew cream.

ImageThis was exactly what I could have hoped for. The fritters were light and fluffy, and while they weren’t bursting with flavour on their own, the sides and balsamic drizzle were the perfect accompaniment, offering beautiful zestiness and creaminess. I was slightly apprehensive of the beetroot relish, seeing as though it is not my my most loved vegetable, however the tanginess did a great job at neutralising the sweetness – which is what I think I don’t like about beetroot in the first place. And oh my goodness, the basil cashew cream…whaaaaaat?! This is AMAZING. I need a tub of this to dip everything in. Seriously.

I didn’t grab snaps of the other dishes – the other two both went for the Umami mushrooms on pumpkin, spinach and sundried tomato polenta bread. They had the non-vegan option, which included goats cheese as well as thyme and red chili oil. It looked delicious and had a good reception from both.

While I would have loved to grab a coffee, I just couldn’t face it in the heat. Billy and Ellen had the guys whip them up a specialty iced chai, which was lovely and refreshing, and mum and dad both went for a glass of coconut water. We were all very happy customers, and I’ll no doubt be returning to give the rest of the menu a good try.

After lunch, we went over to Gelato Messina, which mum had been hanging out to go to for some time. There was a bit of a line when we arrived, but it moved fairly quickly and actually gave us a chance to look over the menu which was quite extensive. They had some really interesting flavour combinations, and while the vegan selection was limited to the sorbets, they had some flavours that were far from ordinary.

ImageI couldn’t resist getting three flavours to try, and I went with blood orange, salted coconut with mango salsa, and pear and white balsamic. The flavours were all beautiful, the salted coconut being a stand-out favourite. The balsamic pear was awesome too, tangy and packed with a pear punch.

ImageBilly went with a combo of the salted coconut, passionfruit and chocolate. The chocolate was amazingly rich, and the fruity passionfruit balanced it out nicely. Billy was stoked, claiming it to be the best gelato of his life and then declaring that it would be the last ice-cream he would ever eat, as there would be nowhere to go but down from there. We’ll see about that….

After wandering Smith St for a while, we headed over west to Footscray, as we were going to a show later in the evening. To kill some time, we headed over to the Reverence for a beer and to get out of the sun for a while. After our late lunch, we weren’t super hungry but looking over the menu we thought we had best sample at least something while we were on this side of the city. I am totally loving the surge of vegan pub food available in Melbourne right now. So many options! The menu at the Rev is Mexican-inspired, with a bunch of snack/small plates and larger meals, as well as a selection of pizzas (and a few desserts).

ImageWe went with some taquitos, which were stuffed with vegan chorizo, sweet potato and refried beans and topped with guacamole, lime and tomatillo sauce with a side of chipotle mayo. HOLY MOLY. These were SO FREAKING GOOD. It was like an explosion of delicious in my mouth. Neither of us had ever had a taquito before, but this will definitely not be the last. We raved about these allllll night. And even today. All we have been doing is planning our next feasible time to visit the Rev for more food.

ImageObviously we couldn’t have bar snacks without the spicy shoestring fries (with chipotle lime mayo). To be honest, neither of us could detect much chipotle or lime in the mayo, but we enjoyed the creaminess nonetheless. The fries were generously seasoned which I love. They were gone in a flash.

And so ends our day of delicious eats!

Admiral Cheng-Ho
325 Johnston St, Abbotsford
Mon-Fri – 6am – 4pm
Sat-Sun – 8am – 5pm

Gelato Messina
237 Smith St, Fitzroy
Sun-Thurs – 12pm – 11pm
Fri-Sat- 12pm – 11.30pm

Reverence Hotel
28 Napier St, Footscray
Kitchen Hours:
Tues – $3 Tacos only, from 6pm
Wed-Sat – 6pm – 10pm
Sun – from 3pm