Many years ago, Laki Papadopoulos and Mark Price gave Fitzroy the ultimate gift, opening their vegetarian eatery, Vegie Bar. Now, over twenty years later, the team behind the cult restaurant and other inner-north success stories Rice Queen and Panama Dining Room have another gift for the suburb: Transformer.
Although new, Transformer Fitzroy looks like it has always been here — perhaps because the building which houses it has been part of the Rose Street landscape for a long time. Inside, a lot of attention to detail given to the former electrical transformer manufacturing warehouse. Lofty wooden ceilings, painted brick walls, recycled timber furniture and a whole lot of greenery create a natural, relaxed vibe that pulls you in and invites you to stay a while.
Chef Luke Florence knows his way around the vegetable patch and puts out thoughtful, flavourful dishes. Fresh, innovative combinations showcase the best the season has to offer, and the kind of foods our bodies crave at this time of year. Creamy, soul-filling sprouted brown rice, barley and beetroot risotto with Asian mushrooms, herbed chevre and togarashi will warm you from the inside out. Light puffs of ricotta and rye gnocchi, swirls of pumpkin mousse and Jackson Pollock-like blueberry compote drips come together in a dish that is not only a riot of abstract colour, but a flavour sensation.
On a menu designed to share, all combinations would lead to happiness, however, the stand-out dish, both in aesthetic appeal and eye-closing, blissful sigh-inducing deliciousness is the Thai corn fritters with gomashio egg, and red curry eggplant chutney.
You won't find any fake meat here. Transformer is all about pure, honest vegetable dishes. Luke and his team do enough amazing things with vegetables that you won't even miss it.
The drinks list features alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages that will have goodness coursing through your veins, such as the cold-pressed Black Magic with super fruit syrup, beet juice and activated coal, and the Tonic Lift, with its fresh lime juice, ginger, agave and vanilla kombucha. There are also some pretty impressive organic and biodynamic local and overseas wines and craft beers — not to mention the cocktails. With names such as Hakuna Colada and The Daisey Cutter, and ingredients like leatherwood honey and banana and maca infused Coco Lopez, there are adventures to be had.