Kennedy Town has been steadily building its collection of trendy eateries since the openings of Bistronomique, Bistro du Vin, Chinos and Sunday’s Grocery served notice that the area was a foodie destination. Now comes Vanimal, a vegetarian restaurant promising to provide tasty, hearty fare for herbivores. Hip touches like colourful Perspex behind the bar premises and a dinosaur-shaped logo for signage make the restaurant feel more like an art gallery rather than somewhere to dine.
The menu stars unusual ingredients such as roasted spongy gluten and horned mushroom. We start with more familiar items and a slow-cooked Japanese egg with cèpe mushroom, shiitake buerre blanc and Jerusalem artichoke chips ($128). The egg is perfectly cooked with a velvety yolk while the mushroom packs a strong and satisfying punch. Despite the full-bodied flavour we still crave some carbs to help mop up the yolk.

Next to arrive is the molten hot mixed vegetables, roasted spongy gluten and saffron lime curry with flatbread ($128). The saffron gives the curry a radiant yellow hue, and the dish tastes sweet, with earthy undertones and tangy spikes of lime. However, the texture doesn’t have enough bite as the carrots, celery and onion are all slightly overcooked. The flatbread offers a crunchiness we’ve been craving and yet we still feel there isn’t enough filler in this comforting dish to keep us satisfied.

For dessert, we opt for the curiously named chocolate 5572 ($108), which takes its name from the cocoa percentage. It proves to be a great end to the meal. Served in a martini glass, the dessert is hazelnuts and fudgy brownie chunks topped with cocoa powder and shards of filo pastry. As we sink our teeth into the gooey brownies, we finally get the satisfaction we’ve been waiting for.

Overall, Vanimal serves a good meal but portion sizes could be larger. The space is modern and we appreciate the edge that Vanimal is striving to give vegetarian food, but it’s still got a little way to go if they’re to contend with veggie heavyweights like Grassroots Pantry and Mana. Holly Graham

Vanimal Shop 1, Cadogan, 150 Belcher’s St, Kennedy Town, 2872 8880; Dinner for two: $600.


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