Monday, 9 July 2018

Smith and Daughters: the Italian Feast, Fitzroy vegan restaurant

About a week ago, I was pretty excited to finally get along to dinner at renowned vegan restaurant Smith and Daughters in Fitzroy.  They are currently serving an Italian menu and rebranding as Smith and Bellas.  Our group of 8 was given the feast menu that is mandatory for groups.  The menu had so many interesting dishes I was happy for a taste of lots of them.  And it was a very nice feast, but next time I would like dishes that involve less mock meat.

To drink, I was tempted by the Testa Rossa, a warm spiced apple and ginger toddy but I was driving.  Instead I had a cool refreshing glass of peach and ginger kombucha.

Our first dish was the Meatballs ($12) cooked in napoli sauce with 2 cheeses: buffalo mozzarella and parmesan.  It was served with copious amounts of parmesan and a thick slab of toast.  Here is the downside to the feast.  We had 9 meatballs between 8 people.  I found it odd to eat just one meatball with a bit of torn toast.  Meatballs are usually served in generous amounts with lots of spaghetti or casserole.  In my book, they are not a small dish.  When they are so good, it is hard to eat just one.  I really loved these but could have had more.

Then came the garlic bread ($8).  Really good garlic bread. crunchy on the outside and soft and buttery inside.  It was so hot that it was hard to tear some pieces off the stick.

Next was perhaps my favourite dish: Carpaccio ($18).  It is a dish that I have never eaten with meat nor desired.  I liked that this one had very thin slightly dried strips of mock raw beef with figs, horseradish cream, fried capers, rocket, shaved parmesan and crostini.  We ate this by wrapping the meat, parmesan and rocket around the crostini.  Messy but so good.  I really loved the pile of rocket which was dressed perfectly.

The Gnocchi ($22) that came next was served with a broccoli rabe pesto, cream chilli and lime.  As the photos shows it was generously sprinkled with parmesan.  It was pillowy soft in a way that I have never had gnocchi before. Very delicious but I wanted more.

In all honestly I gulped in discomfort at Ragu and Polenta ($24).  Slow braised beef ragu is not something I have ever desired.  It was fascinating to see just how meat-like it seemed (to someone who has not eaten beef for a couple of decade) and how it fell apart at the touch of a fork just like real beef.  While I would not go out of my way to eat it again, I did enjoy having a taste of the ragu.  I was more impressed with the soft cheesy polenta.  Now this is my sort of thing.  Really lovely and creamy though I could have done with more cheesy flavour.  No wonder this dish is a favourite among the punters.

If the ragu was challenging, I baulked at the Milanese Schnitzel ($25), a thin chicken fillet in a parmesan lemon herb crumb.  I ate a tiny mouthful and that was enough.  I had had my fill of mock meat by then.  Everyone else seemed to enjoy it more than me despite some discussion in the group about the schnitzel needing a sauce of some sort.  Oh yes and the menu says it is very big.  And it is huge.  My photo does not do its size justice.  Imagine that the platter is the size of a small country and the knife is bigger than Crocodile Dundee's to get a sense of how big it is.  It could have fed a small family!  Seriously!

The schnitzel was served with two side dishes, neither which were ones to rave about.  The first was the Cheesy Gratin ($14) of slow braised Jerusalem artichokes, leek and fennel.  Not my favourite vegies.  I would have much preferred the slow baked pumpkin with olive tapenade or the salt baked carrots with pesto.  I prefer a gratin that is soft and melting.  These gratin vegies were a bit al dente for me.

The second side was the Creamed Silverbeet ($10) with preserved lemon and chilli.  I had a dislike of silverbeet as a child but I find it works in some dishes I cook these days and it was great in the creamy sauce.  While others were tucking into the schnitzel I kept going back to the silverbeet for more.

Then it was time for dessert.  The Baked Vesuvius ($15) was a miracle of modern vegan cooking.  Layers of chocolate sable, chocolate ganache, pureed poached spiced quinces and black pepper vanilla ice cream were covered in amaretto quince Italian meringue.  We speculated if the meringue had aqua faba in it.  I think yes.  It was presented with panache.  The waitress brought it to the table and told us not to eat it yet.  Then she brought out a blow torch and proceeded to scorch the meringue.

I really loved this dessert.  It is a fancy version of Bomb Alaska, which I have always been fascinated with ever since it one of the villains on the 1960s tv series used it to try and destroy Batman and Robin.  It was good that I enjoyed it, because I don't eat tiramisu, which was our other dessert.  The others in the group did so I got a little extra Baked Vesuvius.  Win win.

So I am very pleased to have finally had an evening meal at Smith and Daughters.  (I have had a Smith and Daughters breakfast and quite a few sandwiches from their sister shop Smith and Deli.)  It is always nice to get out for an interesting meal in good company.  There is a buzz to the place that says that, four years on, it is still popular with the punters.  I was sad they were no longer doing doughnuts for dessert and would have liked to try some pasta.  But I live in hope that I will return for more evening meals and have an opportunity to sample more dishes next time.

You can read more about this Italian feast at Veganopoulous and Where's the Beef.

Smith and Daughters
175 Brunswick Street Fitzroy, VIC 3065
Tel: 03 9939 3293
Open: Tues-Fri 6pm - late, Sat 10am - late, Sun 10am - 11pm

Smith and Daughters Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

1 comment:

  1. It all looks amazing and I am intrigued by the fruit in the Bombe Alaska.


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