The new iteration of Shannon Martinez’s all-vegan eatery Smith & Daughters may share the name and gothic charm of its predecessor, but otherwise the two are worlds apart.

“It really feels like we’re in a whole new business,” Martinez says.

That might seem like a bold move after Martinez secured her reputation as an Australian leader in plant-based dining at Smith & Daughters’ much-loved original Brunswick Street spot, but this certainly looks like a whole new business. The restaurant – now located in an old red-brick fire station right next door to the new and improved Smith & Deli on Cambridge Street in Collingwood – boasts a lot more space than its predecessor. The fit-out is dominated by a U-shaped open kitchen, the brick walls and concrete floors have been left unadorned, and vertiginous windows let in plenty of evening light.

The food has been transformed too, with much of the menu now revolving around the use of fire.

“When you smell that smoky barbeque, you don’t really connect that to vegan food,” Martinez says.

Nearly everything on the menu is smoked or touched with flame – from the grilled chicken with heirloom vegetables and harissa tahini, to the fermented potato bread stuffed with ever-changing fillings (such as house-made vegan meat or cheese), fried, and then blistered over charcoal to serve.

The restaurant still boasts its signature mock meats, but the selection has been pared back in favour of produce-driven plates such as grilled mushroom skewers with peppercorn sauce, and a Mediterranean (and vegan, obviously) spin on fish-fragrant eggplant made with cognac, fig caramel and roasted hazelnuts.

Vegan cheese also features prominently in dishes such as savoury blue-cheese loukoumades with date molasses and dukkah, and molten ricotta wrapped in grape leaves. “It’s cooked in the charcoal so it goes really crispy and gnarly and the cheese goes warm and soft on the inside,” Martinez says. The final touch is a sprinkling of grapes smoked overnight until “they become these pops of hot, liquid-y candy”.

Originally, the ricotta dish was meant to be served with glacé tomatoes, but Martinez decided they were too sweet, instead opting to add them to a halva-and-chocolate sundae on the dessert menu. The Smith & Daughters tiramisu, a favourite from the original restaurant, also makes an appearance.

Mondays through Wednesdays, diners can order à la carte. Thursdays through Saturdays are strictly set menu affairs, with eight rotating courses (tiramisu included) for $95 a head. There’s also a chef’s table option, offering 10 people an intimate peek into the restaurant’s bustling open kitchen. At $150 a head, it’s essentially an expanded version of the set menu, plus paired drinks.

Talking of drinks, many are imported from Europe and the Middle East, with an emphasis on Turkish beer and wine.

“You’ve got so many fantastic places around that focus on local natural wines that we kind of wanted to steer clear of that and go for more old-world traditional,” Martinez says. “It’s also the wine that I like to drink the most.”

Smith & Daughters
107 Cambridge Street, Collingwood
(03) 9123 1712

Hours:
Tues & Wed 6pm–10pm
Thu to Sat 4pm–10pm

smithanddaughters.com