Chef and restaurateur Shannon Martinez established her reputation as an Aussie leader in plant-based dining with her all-vegan diner, Smith & Daughters, then galvanised it with a sandwich-and-salad spinoff, Smith & Deli. So it was big news when she announced that both Fitzroy fixtures would be moving at the end of 2021, to a vast new all-day vegan hub on Cambridge Street in Collingwood.

Now located in an old red-brick fire station next door to Smith & Deli 2.0, the restaurant shares the name and gothic charm of its predecessor – but otherwise the two are worlds apart. The spacious dining room centres around a U-shaped open kitchen, the brick walls and concrete floors have been left unadorned, will tall vertical windows letting in plenty of natural light.

The food has been transformed too, with much of the menu revolving around the use of fire. Nearly every dish is smoked or touched with flame – from past highlights of grilled chicken with heirloom vegetables and harissa tahini, to fermented potato bread stuffed with ever-changing fillings (such as house-made vegan meat or cheese), fried, and then blistered over charcoal to serve.

You’ll still find those signature mock meats and vegan cheeses, but the menu favours shareable produce-driven plates. The tiramisu – a favourite from the original restaurant – makes an appearance on the dessert menu.

To drink, there’s booze imported from Europe and the Middle East, with an emphasis on Turkish beer and wine.

But perhaps the biggest update is the introduction of four different dining experiences: the set menu is available every night, with diners of six or more required to partake on Fridays and Saturdays. Otherwise you can order order à la carte Tuesdays through Thursdays, or drop in for casual snacks and drinks Thursday to Saturday. There’s also a chef’s table option, where guests are served a tailored menu based on their conversation with the chefs, and can trial and offer feedback on never-before-seen dishes.

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Updated: May 23rd, 2022

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