The stretch of Smith Street between Johnston and Victoria must be the one of the most veg-friendly strips in the world. You've got Friends of the Earth and Soul Food at the northern end, Trippy Taco and Las Vegan at the southern end (not to mention Vegan Wares). And now, somewhere in the middle, Melbourne's newest veg*n establishment: Grumpy's Green (we're not the first to check it out: Toby and Kristy, Nimal and Karen and Veganik have all been there before us, and reader Erika recommended it to us, too). It's more pub than cafe, with a wide range of local beer on tap and in the fridge and a selection of Victorian wines. The whole venture is shooting for sustainability - locally sourced ingredients, water tanks, recycled paper and their own mini earth hours three times a week. Impressive.
The inside area is moodily lit and atmospheric but on a glorious February day, life was much better in the sunny beer garden. Added bonus: the owners have a gorgeous puppy that patrols the outside areas, gnawing on chairs and staring plaintively at anyone with food (I'll confess that he begged a few chips out of me - could you say no to that face?).
There are just four mains to choose from: an eggplant parma, a pizza, a vegie burger and a pumpkin and asparagus risotto. There are heaps of snacks and starters as well, but with the $10 Tuesday special on offer, I couldn't go past a burger. The vegie pattie uses a chickpea base, and is thick and tasty. It comes with roast capsicum, lettuce, tomato, cheese and a special mustard mayo. Throw in a side of crispy fries and a green salad and you've got yourself a pretty impressive $10 lunch. I really enjoyed the burger, particularly the mayo and cheese (vegans might find it a tad dull - the mayo really brought the flavour).
Still, if Tuesday wasn't my netball night, I can imagine regularly spending my post-work Tuesdays with a Mountain Goat or Holgate in hand and a burger in front of me. Paying full price for the mains ($15) is a bit less appealing (in much the same way as the EBC rocks it at $10, but is less attractive at $20), but a few drinks and some of the delicious sounding snacks (marinated tofu skewers, chickpea battered vegetables!) would be a fine way to spend an evening.
Address: 125 Smith Street, Fitzroy
Phone: 9416 1944
Price: Mains $15 ($10 on Tuesdays), Snacks $7 - $10.50