The wooden walls and dim lighting inside of Yulli's lends a cosy atmosphere to the eccentric and haphazard collection of furniture. Made of recycled materials, the tables perch on Astroturf which covers the floors and runs up the back walls. Quirky, definitely. But not uncomfortably so; there is something that feels familiar about the place.
Located opposite the Clock on Crown Street, Yulli's is easy to pass by. I would recommend that you don't do that, however. Whether you are in search of excellent food or a tall glass of beer, Yulli's won't disappoint.
While many vegetarian restaurants (I am told by my meat-eating friends) can intimidate, or drain your wallet for that matter, Yulli's is accessible. This is essential for vegos, who often have trouble sifting through a menu for something that complements their diet, and for non-vegos who want to give vegetarian fare a try. This bar-and-restaurant combo is a little like your favourite aunt - lovable and approachable, even if a little 'out-there'.
The food at Yulli's is served in the tapas tradition, small plates of food meant to be shared. To start, there is the salt and pepper tofu, lightly seasoned and fried to achieve a perfect balance between crunch and fluffy texture. The accompanying salad is comprised of shredded papaya and carrot, tossed with cherry tomatoes, green beans, peanuts, and garlic. Topped with a lime dressing, it all made for an incredibly light and fresh mix in tasty contrast to the tofu. Equally as tasty was the mixed chip plate, a mix of crispy sweet potato, beetroot, lotus root, onion and taro.
As a main, I sampled the eggplant involtini, a surprisingly filling dish of grilled eggplant stuffed with buffalo mozzarella cheese and spinach. Atop a bed of roti, and dressed in a lemongrass tomato sauce, it was simply delicious. The panfried polenta deserves a recommendation as well. Served with braised fennel and oyster mushrooms, it's a warm, soul food kind of dish.
To complement the fabulous food, there is an equally tempting dessert menu and an astonishingly thorough beer list. Featuring over 30 hand crafted microbrewery beers, all from independent NSW breweries, this beer list can and will satisfy any beer enthusiast. Try Wicked Elf Witbier from the Little Brewing Company in Port Macquarie. The wine list is impressive as well, including a nice range of local, again independent, wineries' products.
With limited room, don't be surprised if Yulli's is chock-full when you arrive. Call ahead for a group; they have a room that can hold an event for up to 12 guests, as well.
Images: Hannah Scott-Stevenson.