Thursday, 21 November 2013

Fina's Vegetarian Cafe, Richmond

After being lazy at WVD and not lining up for a Vietnamese pancake, I remembered Fina's existed, and I hauled my butt out to Richmond accordingly. (We've been meaning to go for over a year now.. oops.)

The cafe is bright and cheery and the first thing that strikes you is the big fat cake counter:

Fresh fruit and veg for juices, coconuts, and a whole lot of probably-not-vegan baked goods. I had a good look but didn't bother asking. Spot the cornflake crackles (or honey joys, or whatever you call them) in the middle! That made me smile. Not something you see commercially very often.

Big ol' drinks menu. Again, quite a bit of this isn't vegan, I think.

We snagged the last indoor table and deliberated for a fair while. Our waiter was incredibly cheery and reassured us that all the food was veganisable and not to worry. Awesome. We ended up going for the spring roll noodle salad, $9.50, and the vietnamese pancake, $10.50.

The first thing to come out was a big pile of lettuce and mint with a spicy chili dipping sauce. We were pretty confused, because it was about five minutes between this and our other food. No big deal, though! Just more time to talk.

Here is the spring roll salad. It comes basically unflavoured, so you need to take advantage of the sauces on each table and the dipping sauces and mix your own.. but I like that. We're wusses when it comes to spice, so ours ended up being a little spicy fish sauce and a fair bit of soy. 

This was a fantastic meal for a warm day. Cool, crunchy and covered in peanuts: my favourite things. I like when you can go out for lunch and walk out feeling refreshed, as opposed to clutching your stomach. It's a good feeling.

 Then my vietnamese pancake came out, and the coconut milk smell was.. not that pleasant, but I hoed into it anyway.

This just wasn't my thing. The coconut milk flavour is very strong and the pancake is slightly rubbery - the batter is full of mushroom and mock ham and that makes it make a bit more sense, but I still left most of it. If you like coconut milk, though, you'll love this - it's crispy and full of veggies. I'll probably do exactly the same thing at home with a vegan omelette now that the weather is warming up.

I really enjoyed Fina's. The prices are fantastic ($25 for two meals and the vegetarian roll I snagged on the way out), the service was fast and cheery and the cafe itself is bright and fun. I left satisfied and thinking two things: I'll be back soon, and that I really need to get a mint plant.

We wandered back down to Prahran, had a big wander through the market and picked up a Mister Nice Guy red velvet in a perfect tiny box, $4.50:

It was delicious. It also spurned an epic cupcake fail on my part that night. Sigh.

The vegetarian roll was also brilliant. They're chock-full of julienned veggies, coriander, boiled (marinated??) peanuts, and a tasty, flaky mock meat. I have no idea what it is, but the proportions were pretty much perfect and it was maybe the best sandwich I've had ever.
(Side note: I am not generally a sandwich person. I think that sort of skews my ratings here. But either way, this was damn tasty)

Gore shot - I think it's faux-chicken strips, maybe soy-based?

Fina's! Go! And stay tuned - posting a simple but incredibly brilliant recipe very shortly.

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