Same venue, fresh new outlook — with a touch of earthquake strengthening added in. Herbivore is the anticipated reincarnation of Cuba Street Bistro, offering an inquisitive new menu for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike.
The restaurant itself retains much of the character of its predecessor. Large, sweeping glass panes invite plenty of natural light onto the brick walls and wood panels, allowing diners to people watch as they wait for their meal. It's light, airy and clean inside, perhaps an early hint of the food that awaits.
Take one look at the menu and you can tell the Herbivore team has gone to great lengths to combat the idea that vegetarian is boring. With pasta, burgers, lasagna and the like featuring heavily, it certainly appeals to a broad base of tastes.
We decided to warm up with the cauliflower and pesto arancini ($12). Stuffed with generous servings of mozzarella and spinach and accompanied by a spicy tomato chipotle, it's a solid enough starter. We noted it was quite a safe dish and could perhaps be a bit more adventurous, something the manager was happy enough to agree with.
The arancini did fulfil its goal of whetting our appetites and we were eagerly anticipating the mains. The black bean and pistachio burger ($18) appears to be their flagship dish (hint: it's the one highlighted on their chalkboard sign outside). First impressions of the burger are great — with large chunks of iceberg lettuce and tomato peeping out from between the buns, it's got a nice homely feel about it. Overall it's a hearty, fulfilling feed, and they've executed the vegetarian patty pretty well.
The highlight of our visit, though, had to be the vegetarian fettuccine ($17). Entwined with portobello mushroom and spinach and slathered in a rich white wine cream sauce and parmesan, the pasta is not too heavy, not too light and cooked wonderfully al dente.
Despite its name, Herbivore will easily attract its fair share of carnivores too based on this experience. The dishes are tasty, clean and guilt-free — even the burger, with its side of fries. With this brand new outfit still finding its feet and the management showing a laudable commitment to learning and taking on feedback, they're bound to get even better. We're certainly excited to see how they'll have evolved by our next visit.