Smith & Daughters
Vegan food so good you won't even know it's vegan.
April 02, 2014
UPDATE: MARCH 31, 2020 — This much-loved vegan spot is now offering a limited menu available for takeaway and delivery, so you can enjoy penne carbonara, vodka-spiked spaghetti and tiramisu in your own home. Check out the full menu here.
The early success of new Fitzroy restaurant Smith & Daughters has taken everyone by surprise, including first-time restaurant owners Mo Wyse and Shannon Martinez, who run the floor and head up the kitchen respectively. Understandably, there have been some teething issues; the restaurant has been booked out every night since opening and, at one point, they were forced to abort a lunch service to re-stock absolutely everything in their kitchen. Despite all this happening within a week of opening, the staff haven't stopped smiling, and the food certainly hasn't suffered.
For a completely vegan restaurant to appeal to non-vegan patrons and avoid any subculture stereotype or prejudice is fairly remarkable. And, the Latin-inspired food is great. For a carnivore and dairy-fiend, I couldn't have been happier with what Smith & Daughters put in front of me. The tasty house-made guacamole with tortilla chips ($12) was a fabulous entry point to the menu, which consists of 'small plates' and 'big plates' — all of which are very shareable. Avoid the paella (delicious al dente rice flavoured with vegetable saffron stock was sacrificed by the faux seafood) in favour of the tacos ($14 for three), which consisted of soft, floury (but gluten free) tortillas filled with spicy 'chorizo' and potato, jackfruit carnitas or mushroom nopales and sweet grilled corn. They rival anything from the many (non-vegan) taco specialists around Melbourne.
With other offerings such as Spanish tortilla with a beautifully crafted creamy house-made aioli ($7), 'tuna' and green pea croquettas ($15 for three), and crowd favourite taco con ensalada ($16), it's the sort of menu that can make decision time a tricky thing... especially if you want to leave room for a round of warm Spanish doughnuts or chocolate tart with avocado ice cream.
The entire menu is plant-based, local and organic, and the kitchen puts in a lot of effort and consideration to make sure flavour is not hindered by the cause. As a result, non-vegan diners will happily return to this new culinary hotspot, and Melbourne's vegan contingent will rejoice their new favourite as one they can happily share with their non-vegan friends.
If you still need any convincing, the cocktails coming from behind the bar were stunning creations in themselves.
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As I was wandering the streets of Fitzroy deciding on where to go to for dinner with my friend who was in town and my boyfriend we walked past Smith & Daughters and said guys I've been here and it's not bad.. Sold they said. As we were eating I noticed a HAIR in my mouth from the chicken waffles I was eating. I tried to pull it out but yup gross it was long and stuck in food and my teeth (told you - gross). My friends finally said what the heck are you doing. I replied embarrassingly there's a hair stuck in my mouth. In the end I swallowed it, it was a freakin' tangled mess. My friend replied and said guys I was too embarrassed to say anything but I had a hair too. My boyfriend said yeah me too. The waitress who came and cleared our plates, I mentioned this too. She apologised and seemed just as embarrassed and very speechless about the matter. She said she would let someone know which we then sat and waited for someone to come talk to us or give us the bill. We sat. and sat. and sat... the poor girl seemed to awkward and embarrassed she carried on serving the tables around us avoiding us completely when trying to ask where the manager was. I finally got up and went inside to ask for the bill and spoke to another waitress or maybe manager. I again mentioned our situation who said yes I heard and we found no evidence of hairs on the plate. Said it as if I was lying! I replied and said look to be honest I swallowed mine (again gross!). She replied it seems a bit far fetched all three of you had hairs in your meal. So she really did imply I was making this up. Wow. The waitress was totally rude and wanted an argument. I tried to keep my cool which I succeeded at. And in the end she gave me a 20% discount. Again wow - it should have been free we ate freaking human hair for dinner! Never again will I be coming back. By far the worst customer service I have experienced in Melbourne. The lady waitress/manager made me feel so embarrassed and completely bad for telling her our experience. Yes the hair in our meals was bad (especially as it was all three!) but the customer service provided after informing them (surely they'd want to know, right!?) was by far worst.