Howler

HOLD UP EVERYONE, did you know that Howler do $12 burger deals on a Wednesday night? It is TRUE and it is GLORIOUS, and I needed to share it with you as soon as was humanly.

Okay so here is the deal. Howler have seven different burgers on their menu, and if you go and order on a Wednesday for your $12 you not only get a burger, but you get a side of fat chips with it, and a pot of Monteiths beer or cider. IS THAT THE BEST BURGER DEAL IN TOWN? I RECKON.

I’d been to Howler a couple of times to either see bands or films and I’m a little bit in awe of the space they have set up there. In the front beer garden you can hole away in booths to drink and eat or surround the ping pong tables and have a game in between pints. Out the back is the band room/cinema/whatever they are doing in what is a versatile space.

ON TO BURGERS. Now there are two vegie burgers, one of which is vegan, to choose from if you need vegetables. The vegan has a quinoa, wild rice, almonds and beetroot patty with beanshoots, pickled ginger, Asian herbs and vegan wasabi mayo, while for vegie you can have the saganaki burger with cucumber, tomato, basil, house relish and chipotle aioli, If you all know me well enough you all know that I definitely went with the SALTY DELICIOUS CHEESE BURGER.

It’s a damn generous slab of cheese too, thick and fat and poking out very generously from under the eaves of the floury bun. Really all the ancillary vegies and sauces are just there to provide empty vitamins that will be instantly snuffed out by unadulterated saganaki. And how can there be anything better than that? Well, the chips do come close, crispy and crunchy, with winsome fluff within. Teamed with a cider, and I was terribly content. What a deal, what a deal.

Howler

7-11 Dawson Street, Brunswick

Ph: 9077 5572

www.h-w-l-r.com

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The Cornish Arms

There are days where all you want to do is throw caution and health to the wind and stuff your face with as much processed fried crap as you can find. When you dare to be vegetarian or vegan, however, sometimes the sweet embrace of crisp fried badness can be hard to come by.

That’s why a place like The Cornish Arms is such an ace blessing, with it’s near-endless vegetarian and vegan options that fully commit to hearty, fried, oh-so-bad-for-you-it’s-good pub grub. I somehow hadn’t been before (alors!) so Carla took me in hand to ensure that I could finally experience one of Melbourne’s best cruisey vegan places.

The Cornish Arms is an old school boozer in a lot of ways – you’ll find a lot of grizzled blokes putting back schooners alongside tattooed too-cool-for-school hipsters – but everyone seems to be happily welcomed. On the Thursday evening we visited trivia was in full swing, so we ended up sitting out in the beer garden, which was pleasant despite a tricksy wind wanting to blow menus away.

While I was definitely intrigued by the idea of the ‘meat loathers’ pizza (I mean, how couldn’t you be?), I ended up with a fever for mock chicken and ordered the vegan chicken burger. As well as a big fat herb and breadcrumb-encrusted slab of fried mock chicken, the burger also contained facon, vegan ‘cheez’, cos lettuce, tomato slices, ranch sauce and chipotle aioli. The burger is also served with some fat chips, which were nice enough, although it would have been nicer if they’d been accompanied by some kind of condiment.

I don’t know what sort of magic the chefs here sprinkle over their mock meats to make them so succulent and delicious, but it is some level 50 mage shit. I actually ended up feeling that all the other components of the burger apart from the facon were distracting from the fried mock goodness. I might keep the cos lettuce and tomato, but there was definitely too much bread involved. And I don’t think I will ever reconcile myself to vegan cheese, it never seems to achieve any sense of true cheesiness for me and always has this unpleasant, chemically aftertaste. Carla insists that Cheezly is the only way to go when it comes to vegan cheese, I trust in her judgement.

Carla wasn’t about to let bread get in the way of her mock chicken consumption so she went with the vegan double down – two pieces of crumbed mock chicken sandwiching facon, cheez, tomato and sauces, served alongside some super crispy wedges and the tokenistic inclusion of a small mound of coleslaw. While some might balk at such an extreme level of soy protein, I ended up with a serious case of food envy at the sheer amount of fried wonder that adorned Carla’s plate. Ironically, she ended up feeling that some bread actually would have improved things for her tastes, so really we probably should have gone halfsies.

I couldn’t get the image of the double down out of my mind, so a few weeks later I went on a solo jaunt by myself to experience the glory. While my mound of coleslaw was definitely bigger than Carla’s (and actually contributed nicely to leavening all the soy protein), and the wedges were indeed fluffy crisps of amazement, again I couldn’t arrest my attention away from the vibrantly spiced, crisp moist goodness of the mock chicken. It is delicious wizardry. Although again, could have done without the vegan cheese. I am sorry, vegan cheese, you are just not a thing, not yet anyway. But otherwise this is the most pure form of soy mock enjoyment I have yet discovered.

I’ve since realised that even in mentioning The Cornish Arms to folks, veg*ns and omnis alike react with worshipful glee and reverent creative swearing. This is clearly a venue of joy that I’ve been far too slow in getting around to, you didn’t need to read this at all, you’ve clearly already been there hundreds of times, TAKE ME WITH YOU.

The Cornish Arms

163A Sydney Road, Brunswick

Ph: 9380 8383

www.cornisharms.com.au

Minimo

Since I moved to the northern suburbs, I’ve been a little bit crap in actually exploring all the new brunchy vittles that are now tantalisingly within reach of my house (official story is I’m trying to save a bit of money by not eating out as much; actual story is that if left to my own devices I can end up in a lazy spiral where my food habits turn into “exactly how many different toppings can you put on a Ryvita?”).

So the best method to actually get me exploring greater Brunswick’s food offerings is to lure people to visit me. When my sister Carly put a call out on Saturday morning for someone to take her out for hungover brunch, I jumped in with the promise of Brunswick fun times.

I’d been keen to visit Minimo since this Where’s the Beef post from the depths of time. I always like the idea of good solid little cafes that are consistent and hold forth with ALL OF THE EGG DISHES, and as such felt it would be the perfect venue to help Carly in her vale of hungover sorrow.

Such were the quantity of egg dishes that it took me a while to decide what to have, but corn fritters are always a pretty pleasing idea especially when they come with two poached eggs. A giant stack of two plump corn fritters that were absolutely bursting with kernels did indeed come topped with two poached eggs, as well as generous slatherings of lime mayo and fresh mango salsa. The eggs popped deliciously runny, hot yolk all over everything, the mayo had a sharp citrus bite to it, and since going to a party a few weeks ago where I sampled a delicious tofu, fresh mango and sweet chilli burger I am ALL ABOUT savoury mango now, so the sweet pulpy mango salsa was divine. This is one of the first times in a long while where I’ve received a $17 plate of breakfast and felt that it was actually well worth every penny.

After making the waiter dissolve into laughter about the fact that Carly required ALL THE MEATS (I think we quietly made his day with our bantery ways, clearly we need to start a comedic sibling double act pronto), Carly built her own breakfast plate of poached eggs, thick cuts of bacon, and a generous amount of thinly sliced prosciutto. The prosciutto disappeared VERY QUICKLY, which is indicative of quality, as Carly is well fussy with her smallgoods. The serving was a bit too large for her hungover tum, a fact that she lamented extensively, as she greatly enjoyed it all and felt a bit rotten having to leave some of it behind.

The coffee would probably turn up the nose of the most ardent coffee snobs – the crema on the top of my flat white was a bit thin and wobbly (…that’s a technical term), and the backend was a touch bitter, but I was pleased enough with it, considering I rarely have coffee anyway.

Minimo was just what I had always hoped it would be, a solid neighbourhood cafe with generous, hearty food and friendly staff that create a space that is clearly a haven for its legion of regular customers. I couldn’t be more pleased to be living near by.

Minimo

822 Sydney Road, Brunswick

Ph: 9383 2083

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