“A pastrami sandwich needs to be piled high. I’m sorry, that’s so not vegan, but we’re going to be authentic.”
That’s Mo Wyse. She and Shannon Martinez are behind Fitzroy restaurant Smith & Daughters, the vegan success story (it does at least 200 covers every night it’s open and they estimate that 75 to 80 per cent of their patrons are not vegan) that celebrated its first birthday this week. Chef Martinez has a loyal following in Melbourne because of her creative and sophisticated meat-free menus. As Wyse puts it: “People follow Shannon from restaurant to restaurant.”
They have announced they will open a deli-style grocer and sandwich shop in April, around the corner from the original Brunswick Street venue. And like the restaurant, it will be completely vegan. Not that that’s the point.
“Our focus isn’t on what’s not on the table,” says Wyse. “We’re about making the whole experience accessible and focusing on what is on the table, which is really good food that happens not to contain any animal products.”
The space at 111 Moor Street will focus on convenient, grab-and-go, homemade, traditional deli options. Or as Martinez puts it, “Grandma food at its finest.” There will be pre-prepared meals to take home (lasagne, pizzas with house-made buffalo mozzarella, soups) and breakfast and lunch options to takeaway (coffee, sandwiches, pastries, soups, salads). The space won’t have any seating except for a bench out the front.
“We want to be open for when people are walking down Brunswick Street to the tram to go to work,” says Martinez. We’re going to be making lunch boxes to go. People can literally pick something out of our fridge for lunch and dinner.”
Martinez says she has, “Finally nailed vegan croissants”. And there will be specialty pies – trials have included beef burgundy, chicken curry and broccoli-cheese. “Every morning we’ll smash out a whole bunch of smoothies and have them ready to pick up off the shelves,” she says.
For lunch there will be salads on high rotation and a sandwich bar complete with shaved ham and turkey (which will also be available to buy by the kilo), at least three types of cream cheese, pickles and smoked salmon. Specialty breads will be made in-house and bagels will be by Five & Dime.
Martinez’s self-confessed “unnatural obsession with Jewish food” will be expressed via matzo-ball soup, knishes, and gefilte fish.
“We’ll have pasta sauces in jars, beautiful dried pastas, olive oil and tomatoes and vegan cheese that we make – groceries and things you need everyday. We’re also going to get a small reserve of wine,” says Martinez.
Martinez will be making homemade sausages – with vegetable-gum casings from the UK – and selling them by the kilogram.
“I’ll be there all the time so people can talk to me about the food and I can walk them through the shop. I love that stuff!” says Martinez.
Smith & Deli is slated to open in mid-to-late April at 111 Moor Street, Fitzroy. It’s planned opening hours will be 7am–8pm. Smith & Daughters will open for lunch later in the year.