In a corner bluestone building that used to be Spanish restaurant De Los Santos, owners Mo Wyse and Shannon Martinez, have transformed the space into their new vegan bar and eatery with a rock‘n’roll vibe (think framed band posters, a cross-shaped neon sign on the wall, punk rock on the speakers), Smith & Daughters.
The two behind the venture have a mission with Smith & Daughters: to challenge the perception that vegan dining is necessarily bland. Wyse was the brains behind the People’s Market in Collingwood and Martinez the head chef of the Market’s resident food stall, South. Martinez has previously worked at a string of Melbourne’s top vegan and vegetarian-friendly dining institutions.
You will find Spanish and Mexican-influenced plates to share for lunch and dinner and on the weekends, brunch includes dishes such as tuna and green pea croquetas with béchamel, a smoky paella with saffron stock, veggie prawns and scallops, and deep-fried chiles rellenos – char grilled peppers stuffed with cream cheese and minced chorizo (very meat like).
The texture and taste of some of these meat substitutes, made with processed veggie protein (‘seafood’ and ‘chorizo’ made from tofu and the root of a plant called konjac), are strangely close to their animal-product counterparts.
While unusual and inventive, the menu skimps a little on fresh greens and raw salads (there are two – a taco and a palm-heart salad). Freshness comes in other ways on the drinks list, which is packed full of day and nighttime juices, killer smoothies, and lush cocktails (try the pina colada with coconut water).