Sunday, 15 November 2009

Tart ‘n’ Round Café: creative liberation

I rang my friend Will to tell him I was concerned about him because we still had his hat that he left at our place months and months ago. These hot days are not ones to be without a hat. Yesterday while Sylvia slept, I drove to over to return Will’s hat. While I was over that way I had suggested we go to Tart ‘n’ Round Cafe in Thornbury High Street for a bite to eat. We strolled there wearing our sunhats.

I have wanted to try Tart ‘n’ Round for a while now since seeing it being raved about by other bloggers. It is a small local business that makes gluten free and vegan wholesale food and now runs a café new café that serves their delicious food. But when I went there I found that I had sampled the Tart ‘n’ Round baking before. I have seen their stall at Carlton Farmers Market and eaten their superb chocolate balls at Fatto a Mano bakery (228 Gertrude St, Fitzroy).

Tart ‘n’ Round has a stylish interior with brick walls, a corrugated iron counter and black shelves for food and crockware displays. I love a place that has lots of food to look at – bread and icecream in the fridge behind the counter; packaged fruit cake, chocolate balls and biscuits in a little corner of edible gifts and treats; and most importantly of all, a tempting dessert display in a glass cabinet. It all looked good.

We sat down to check the menu. While it was not huge, Will , who is a fellow vegetarian, laughed in delight because he could eat it all rather than avoiding all the meat. There were burgers, fritters, pasta, and more. He chose the lentil burger. I swithered between the lasagne and the chickpea salad but chose to taste both.

The service was prompt and friendly. Plates of large colourful meals were soon placed before us. Will had a large lentil burger in a bun with a generous side salad. When I later asked him how the bun was he said he never even noticed it was gluten free. He also had a mango smoothie that he thought quite ordinary but he swooned over the vegan ice cream.

My lasagne was layers of corn noodle, eggplant, pumpkin, mushroom and topped with thick rich tomato sauce. It didn’t taste at all like regular lasagne but I enjoyed the corny taste of the pasta and all the soft melting layers of vegetables. I had requested a half serve of the chickpea salad. It was most satisfying with lots of chickpeas, beans, carrots and avocado swimming in a lovely herby dressing.

Then our attention turned to the desserts. We had a tyranny of choices – biscuits, chocolate balls, tiramisu, lemon meringue pie, flourless chocolate cake, chocolate caramel slice, and even mince tarts. As I said above, I have purchased the crispy chocolate balls elsewhere. I know I should have tried something new but I love the caramel peanut balls so much and after Will’s glowing endorsement of the ice cream I was tempted to have both. (I have just realised that they are like my favourite chokito chocolate bar but better!)

I was convinced to try a warmed slab of the creamy, crunchy, chocolate covered peanut caramel balls with ice cream. It was wonderful but my eyes were bigger than my stomach. The ice cream was indeed incredibly smooth and creamy. But after my huge main course, I just couldn’t finish it. So anyone who claims that gluten free food or vegan food does not fill you up, just try Tart ‘n’ Round. In future I will just have a smaller peanut caramel ball – or maybe two because they are so good. Will enjoyed a hearty serve of tiramisu with ice cream.

Both of us left, pleased to discover a good local cafe. I must remember the take away option as well as eating in. They also sell ice cream in a tub, loaves of my celiac sister’s favourite GF bread, and for the Christmas season there are mince pies, puddings, fruit cake and special festive chocolate balls. So I recommend you try Tart ‘n’ Round if you are seeking vegan food (or either egg free or dairy free), gluten free food or just delicious food made with love and creativity.

Update: just found out the sad news that as of 1 March 2010, Tart n Round cafe is closing. The cafe will be missed but the food will continue to be sold wholesale and be available at other outlets.

Tart ‘n’ Round Café

839 High St, Thornbury 3071
Open: Wednesday-Friday 12.00pm -10.00pm, Saturday/Sunday 9.00am - 10.00pm, Closed Monday & Tuesday except for public holidays
Ph: 03 9480 0818


  1. I am sitting here drooling! I so wish we had a cafe like that here. I would never be out of it. Fabulous!

  2. Looks like they frequently rotate the dessert options - I've not seen either of those before! I have a booking for a special meal there next week and am looking forward to trying more of their dishes.

  3. This looks amazing. Wish I lived close by :)

  4. Thanks Jaqueline - it is a great cafe - just wish it was a little closer to my home and I would be there often

    Thanks Cindy - I saw the sign about the degustation and was interested but we wont be about then - hope you will post about your experience

    Thanks Girl on Raw - eveyone needs a cafe like this close by :-)

  5. What a great restaurant! Those desserts look heavenly. And corn noodles--must look out for those.


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