Tag Archives: Vegetarian

Au Lac

We managed to sneak in here without a reservation last night during Au Lac’s Chinese New Year celebration, which coincided with Sebastian’s birthday festival – why celebrate on just one day?   We were some of the first diners so we were in and out before the in-restaurant lion dancing.

Starters were soy chicken nuggets (for Sebastian) and soy chicken satay sticks (for Mel and I).  Both were very nice, as usual.  For mains we had braised tofu & vegetable with cashew nut, fried soy fish with spicy salt & chilli, and rice vermicelli with BBQ soy meat.  The cashew nut dish is a staple because it is quite mellow and has things that Sebastian enjoys.  The soy fish was probably a bit spicier than usual, which causes no complaints from Mel & I.

We discovered the rice vermicelli dish on a recent visit.   It is both simple and excellent.  It contains vermicelli, bean shoots, lettuce, cucumber and some BBQ soy meat balls.  It comes with a small bowl of spicy sauce that adds a nice amount of zing.  I think we will be eating this dish a lot.

Au Lac is always an excellent place for Canberra vegetarians to eat.  Last night is the busiest we have seen it and it got uncomfortably  hot – probably due to both the number of people who suddenly arrived and the doors being open in preparation for the lion dancing.  That said, this is very unusual and we were very grateful to be given a table ahead of such a busy night without a booking.  Au Lac is one of Sebastian’s favourite restaurants.  Mel and I like it too…  🙂


The old Satis had good food but was pokey and I don’t think they had a kitchen that always allowed them to get food out in a timely manner. After getting some extra space and rennovating, Satis has been reborn as a spacious bar that serves excellent vegetarian food and gets it out quickly.

Mel and I had lunch there last Wednesday and we both chose food from the breakfast menu, which is available until late afternoon. I had the breakfast burrito with a poached egg. It was loaded with lots of stuff including roast veggies, beans and polenta, and then dipped in a deep fryer. It was excellent. Mel had “The Favourite” – hash with chilli fetta and basil oil, and eggs on toast. The hash was a good size and the topping was pretty special. I would definitely eat both of these dishes again.

It is good to be excited about a local vegetarian restaurant. Something has been missing since the heyday of Bernadette’s, and I’m looking forward to getting back to Satis to try a few more things.

Au Lac

Au Lac is a vegetarian Vietnamese restaurant in Dickson that does soy-based “fake meat” or, as it is known in our house, “psycho chicken”. This is one of Sebastian’s favourite restaurants and Mel has learned to love it too, despite her previous protestations against meat substitutes.

Last night we started with shredded tofu rolls, soy chicken nuggets and vegetarian spring rolls. Sebastian loves the nuggets, though he requests plum sauce instead of the sweet chilli sauce that comes with them by default. Last night he also said he wanted the spring rolls, though Mel & I ended eating most of them. The shredded tofu rolls are one of our staples – standard Vietnamese cold rolls with some sort of tofu-like filling added. All the starters were great, although Sebastian didn’t eat all of his spring rolls.

For mains we had stuffed beancurd in delight sweet & sour sauce, fried soy fish with spicy salt & chilli, and Shanton chicken. The stuffed beancurd is a really nice sweet and sour dish with a variety of veggies. The stuffed beancurd itself is done in 1/2 balls and has a texture vaguely reminiscent of meatballs. Au Lac’s soy fish is yummy stuff. I’ve never been a fan of fish but this has the elements that I did like when I used to eat fish sometimes. The spicy salt and chilli coating was tasty but not overpoweringly spicy. The Shanton chicken is one of their crispy soy chicken dishes – nicely done – with a reasonably spicy Shandong-style sauce.

Last night’s meal was very nice and went well with a couple of glasses of the Pinot Gris that we BYOed. We had a nice variety of dishes, though we did end up with too much food. Au Lac builds nicely presented, flavoursome dishes around the fake meat, so it is worth the effort. The food is generally very good but at the more expensive end of the scale for an informal vegetarian meal.


Date: 3 October 2009

I have been meaning to review this great little place for some time now. We have eaten here a few times and tried to eat here a few more times. It is a funky little veggie place with a great open kitchen and a very happy following of food loving regulars! It is often hard to get a table as it is pretty much packed at meal times and they are only a small place. We tend to end up here just after the main meal times, so occasionally miss out on the dishes we want – but it is not usually a problem – everything is yummy! This time, late as usual, I had the pizza with pumpkin, pesto and cherry tomatoes, and while Martin initially wanted the fajta, he ended up with the tofu burger as they were out of the fajita. The pizzas are delicious and very generous – they are made on square lebenese type bread, and the pesto on this one was amazing! Martin was very pleased with his tofu burger, although I thought it would have been nice if it came with some salad on the side…

Definitely good food and we’ll definitely go back – might even try and get there in time for breakfast one time!

Au Lac

This is one of those places that serves what I call ‘psycho-chicken’ (quest que cest fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa far – better sung to the tune of that Talking Heads song Psycho Killer – although I am not sure that it this stuff actually is far better)! Psycho-chicken, also known as soy meat, is not really my thing, but Martin talked me into going here under the guise of supporting the vegetarian restaurants in Canberra. Although as I pointed out to him, this place bills itself as ‘authentic vegetarian Vietnamese cuisine’, and I am not 100% convinced that soy meat is authentic! Anyway… We started with some cold fresh rolls – which are normally one of my favourite things, but these ones did come with a slice of some kind of soy meat in them which kind of ruined it for me. Apart from that, they were delicious, and I love these with the peanut/satay sauce instead of sweet chilli sauce – I must remember that for those times that I make these at home! For our mains we went with tofu with lemongrass and a combination veggies with crispy noodles. The tofu with lemongrass was billed as hot and spicy on the menu and it was reasonably so. Not that it mattered because it was absolutely divine – I could have eaten a truckload of this! The tofu was deep fried, so it was light and crispy and it was smothered in chopped up lemon grass and chilli and other spices and was served with fried onions and red capsicum on a bed of cabbage (I think). Yum! The combination veggies came with combination fake meat on a giant bed of crispy noodles, swimming in sauce. I told Martin that he would have a lot of fake meat to eat, but I did actually try some of it. As I said before, it is not my thing, but there was one type that I probably could tolerate – the question is – which meat was it supposed to be? I’m not sure I could be bothered trying a variety of dishes to figure it out! Needless to say, I avoided most of the fake meat, but the veggies and noodles were ok. I am not sure whether or not to recommend this place. The non-fake meat dishes are good, and the fake meat dishes are also good, if you like that sort of thing. The fake stuff kind of tastes like chicken, but I think that is about it. The texture, however, is fairly accurate, and having been vegetarian for more than 10 years, it is something I can live without it!

Sirens – Hobart, Tasmania

I was in Hobart for work, and was basically in the hands of my boss who had lived there for many years and she suggested that we should go to this place for dinner, and I am so glad we did. It was amazing! The restaurant itself was beautiful, the decor was fabulous, although, I have to say that the very low chairs around the low table were a little uncomfortable after a while… Anyway, food – we started with some bread which came with some sort of dip which I think was garlic-y – I am not sure but it was certainly delicious! Since it is a veggie restaurant, there was lots to choose from, I eventually decided on the three cheese and pistachio cannelloni, with a spicy avocado salsa. It came as two large freshly made cannelloni’s absolutely smothered with this wonderful spicy avocado and tomato salsa. It was fantastic. I am almost sure that one of the cheeses in there was a blue or a gorgonzola which I am not a fan of, but it didn’t really matter as that flavour was not overpowering. My companions ordered the banana dahl, which came with pakoras, parathas and raita, and the twice baked souffle, which she had also had the last time she came here. Both looked delicious. The servings were quite large, but we decided to share a dessert between three and settled on the orange pistachio cake which was absolutely divine – and certainly big enough to feed three of us. Given the fabulous food, it was a little disappointing that is took us so long to order our dessert, as the waitress was off chatting – to her grandmother we later found out… However, I am keen to get back to Hobart to revisit this great place and in the meantime, I will just be sad that there isn’t a great veggie restaurant like this in Canberra…

Sunshine Cafe – Banff, Alberta, Canada

We deliberately headed here because it is a vegetarian restaurant and I think we were both in the mood for some good veggie food that we could trust! And when we got there and checked out the menu, I think we were both a little excited at the prospect of eating there! However, when we went to order, the waiter told us that he couldn’t do a number of things on the menu – sadly a number of them were the things that I wanted to eat – a huge omelette and the swiss cheese rosti – however they could do the frittata Espanol – which contained both eggs and potato which were also the main ingredients in the omelette and rosti! Oh well… getting my third choice isn’t so bad… Martin went for the soup of the day – potato and corn chowder – and a cup of chilli. He also had a fresh apple juice – a far wiser choice than my option of a fresh lemonade, which was really just lemon flavoured water… The food was ok. The soup was quite bland, although Martin claimed that salt and pepper perked it up a bit. The chilli was ok, and there was nothing really wrong with my frittata – it just wasn’t as ‘wow’ as I expected it to be… Maybe they were having an off day, but there were a number of other people eating there that also looked less than impressed with their food…


Well, I think this will be my last review of Bernadette’s – which is sad really. As I have previously said, Bernadette’s used to be our favourite restaurant and we ate there so often before it changed hands that we were at ‘regulars’ status, and got a few special treats – like being allowed to order and take home desserts that you couldn’t usually get take away! Anyway, the experiences have been mixed since the new owners took over, and last time I was pretty impressed with the new menu and the pizza that I ordered. So impressed in fact, that I decided to order it again. However, the whole experience this time was very, very poor – food, service, everything! To start with, they were busy – really busy for a late Saturday lunch, and there were only 3 staff working and that included 2 chefs. So, it took a long time to get menus, then a long time to order and then a long time for our drinks, we had to ask for water after we were told it was coming and it took a really long time for our food! We ordered a mixed bread basket, a tandoori pizza and Caribbean tofu strips. I ask you – how hard can it be to stick some bread in the oven and get it out to people so they are not sitting there starving while waiting for the rest of their food?? Instead we sat and waited while the chefs were intent on getting out the main meals to the table of 9 sitting behind us. Which is fair – they were there first, but our bread arrived after our other meals were brought out! I think the total waiting time for our food was about 30-45 minutes, and when it arrived it was pretty disappointing… The Caribbean tofu was about 6 small strips of tofu on some rocket with a largish dollop of humous, my tandoori pizza was simply tofu, a pappadum and the fruit chutney – it was missing the cucumber, tomato and coriander salsa and the yoghurt listed on the menu, and which made it really tasty the last time I ate it. We considered complaining, but decided it wasn’t worth it. We also considered ignoring the bread, but Martin decided that he would actually need it to fill him up, so we asked where it was and we were told it was coming… it finally arrived and I have to say it was the highlight of the meal! I only ate half my pizza and donated the other half to Martin to stop him from starving to death and had a few pieces of bread instead. I doubt that we were the only ones who were disappointed with eating there – there was another couple who arrived after us who had to ask for menus and then wave down the waitress so that they could order… amazingly (since they ordered after us) their meals arrived before ours! To top it all off, there was a man sitting to our left who was there when we arrived, he was working very hard with quite a few piles of papers – his meal arrived just before we left, and it certainly didn’t look like anything off the menu – and we didn’t see him order it. In fact (and I could very well be mistaken since I couldn’t see properly) it looked like a big chunk of meat with mushrooms on top. As I said – I could be mistaken… however, given my disappointment with this experience, I don’t think I’ll take the chance!


I have reviewed Bernadette’s a couple of times since they changed hands and while we haven’t been overly inspired, we also haven’t had completely horrible experiences! This time I had lunch there with a friend, since it is close to home and we didn’t have a huge amount of time. Considering it was a Friday lunch, I was a little surprised at how empty they were… I guess others have been more uninspired than us! This time I was impressed by the menu – they have a stack of new choices on it and seem to be trying to make it their own, and I was equally impressed by the food… I tried a “new” tandoori pizza and I hope they decide to add it to their standard pizza menu because it was great! Small chucks of Tandoori tofu with cucumber, topped with yoghurt, a pappaddum and fruit chutney. Really, really tasty!

Sprouts – Adelaide, SA

We discovered this place a couple of years ago when we were in Adelaide and when we were planning this trip to Adelaide we were very excited to go back to this restaurant. I can’t remember what we ate here last time, but I know it was great – the food really blew us away as it was good quality imaginative food that was also vegetarian! The menu this time was a little disappointing as four of the eight or so mains were burgers. While veggie burgers do have their place, I would have thought that one would have been sufficient on a menu in a restaurant! However, we managed to find other things that we wanted to eat! We started with the house platter which included bread, roasted veggies, salad, olives and crispy veggie balls and a yoghurt sauce. Yum, yum, yum. Those crispy veggie balls (although deep fried) are really good! For mains, Martin had the maize and ricotta hotcake stack – which was huge and almost defeated him! While I had the spinach and ricotta cannelloni which also had some sort of roasted nut in it that I can’t remember, and the nut flavour really made it special… I think it is one of the best cannelloni I have ever eaten! We also ordered a side of garlic potatoes – I simply can’t go past potatoes and these came roasted with the perfect amount of garlic. I could have eaten the whole plate myself! This is a great restaurant and I would highly recommend a visit if you are anywhere near Adelaide!