Lona launches a new vegan menu that’s a carnivore-friendly feast
Melbourne regularly features on lists of the best cities in the world for vegans, and the choice of animal-free cuisine across the city is plentiful. But there’s still a standoff when carnivores and vegans meet for dinner: do you eat at a vegan restaurant and the meat-lover opts for a tofu dish, or do you pull up a chair at the pub and the vegan orders the one animal-free dish on the menu? Enter St Kilda staple, Lona, which has launched a vegan menu that sits comfortably alongside it’s meat and seafood offerings.
As a carnivore with a penchant for vegan and vegetarian food, I was keen to try out Lona’s new menu. I convinced my meat-loving friend to join me. That one friend who thinks vegan food begins and ends with mung bean salads and wrinkles her nose up when someone mentions the V word.
Serving up Spanish and South American fare, Lona’s ‘vegetarian’ menu (vegetarian items can be made vegan) is an interesting mix of hero dishes and tried and tested favourites (hello nachos) that are designed for sharing.
We order the wild mushroom tostadas, crispy rounds of corn tortilla that are topped with whole earthy mushrooms and a tangy medley of quinoa, corn, spanish onion and tumaca.
On recommendation from the staff, we try the jackfruit sliders. This is where it gets interesting, as my meat-loving lunch guest ponders just how meaty the jackfruit is and she doesn’t wrinkle her nose at it! These are delicious chunks of slowly braised BBQ meaty fruit flesh with apple, carrot and tumaca, served in a soft gluten free bun.
The patatas bravas is always a winner, and these paprika spiced potatoes drizzled in tumaca sauce and aioli are very moreish, while the croquetas are crunchy on the outside with soft, fluffy leak-and-potato on the inside.
Four dishes in and the meat-lover is making the appropriate noises for a meal well enjoyed. And while she won’t be embracing veganism anytime soon, she’s definitely discovered the beauty of meat-free dishes. And not a mung bean in sight!
One notable dish on the menu that I’ve earmarked to try on the next visit is the terra tacos, a mix of salted cauliflower, spicy beetroot, smoked paprika, coriander, salsa and lime.
With the sun drenching the al fresco dining area, a glass of rose seemed fitting to enjoy with lunch. And in place of dessert, we opted for cocktails instead. I chose everyone’s favourite espresso martini which was mixed to perfection, while my guest picked out the more dramatic pornstar martini, a vanilla infused vodka martini with tangy passionfruit, lime juice and a cheeky pour of sparkling wine into the passionfruit skin.
There’s a choice of two areas for al fresco dining, either out on the street for a premium people watching view or in the beer garden under the shade of the boat shed, away from the hustle of the street.
The bar’s eclectic decor is a nod to St Kilda’s urban nautical hybrid vibe, with cabana striped cushions and white seating echoing the beach-side theme while murals adorn the walls and street-style art on canvases by the mysterious ‘Mike’ hang throughout the venue.
And being in the heart of St Kilda, the staff speak in an array of British accents, adding to the melange of cultures and themes that make Lona one of the best local places to while away an afternoon or sip cocktails into the night.
If you’re looking for more vegan eats in Melbourne worth trying, make sure to read Eat Drink Play’s pick of the best.
64-66 Acland Street
Open daily 12pm-1am