Lisa and I availed ourselves of the East Brunswick Club's $10 Monday specials tonight, polishing off our meals along with a full conversation ranging from work to puppies to crusty vegans to food politics.
My first visit to the East was on my last birthday, where I was unable to enjoy the meal because I had already consumed: a full cooked breakfast at Delish; a sausage roll from La Panella; various donuts, slices and tarts also from La Panella; some crisps I think; and a couple of beers. By the time I got to dinner, nothing was going to fit in easily and nothing was going to set my tastebuds on fire. So it was some self-induced disappointment that I ate that night, even though (bless!) Buzz, my parents and Miss T Junior had all ordered vegan in solidarity.
Tonight I was thrilled and relived to discover how wrong I was. Mea culpa, mea culpa.
My parma was chewily textured with a soft mouthfeel, topped with very creditable cheese (Cheezly perhaps?) and red sauce (now that's accurate food writing!).
In the style of all genuine northern suburbs pub grub, it was plonked atop a serving of chips with a balsamic-wetted garden salad which included two whole quarters of tomato and three slices of cucumber. Don't get me wrong here - that's exactly what I wanted, what I went for and that's what I damn well got!
I ate it all, to the point of insisting that the waiter return my empty plate to our table so that I could snap it as proof - I'm sure by now that the staff at the East have made the broad conjectural point that vegan = food mania.* *(photograph not available. Read: it turned out quite badly).
Lisa's chicken burger was, I think, made of a similar mock-meat but it was more heavily encrusted and had not-too-little, not-too-much herbed mayo on the bun.
It was even in a chicken-breasty kind of shape, as was my parma, which was a little disconcerting but quite authentic-looking in its own odd way. She kindly let me dig in fingers fist ... all in the name of blogging of course.
I've said before that I'm a savoury girl, but who am I to walk on by when chocolate and peanut butter cheesecake is on offer? I am no-one, Master Cheesecake, just the wind amongst the trees. On my first visit I did in fact display the idiocy to do just that (remembering the breakfast, La Panella etc etc), so this time here it came. Frustratingly, the lights were turned down from perfectly normal Monday night-ish to ooh-la-la-ish just as I spooned off the end to snap the inside, so we will have to make do with an external shot only.
The cheesecake was more than I thought a silken tofu creation could be (I mean, c'mon. Silken tofu into a sweet dessert tart? I pity the fool!). It was firm, silky, moist and full of real peanut buttery flavour. Lisa would have preferred a more crumbly base, so I leave that judgment with the connoisseur. I just want to have a crack at making it now!
I am pretty gosh-darned impressed now, and am salivating in a none-too-attractive manner at the thought of the new Asian 'duck' and salad dish.
So what's the greatest about the East? No, it's not the most cutting edge, healthiest, most inventive vegan food. But sometimes, or even quite a lot if you're like me, you just want a big, hearty, straightforward pub meal with chips and sauce and you want it to take up most of a big plate and you want a beer to go with it and you want to eat it in a real pub and you want it right now and thanks to the East, these simple pleasures are back on the menu for vegans.
The East Brunswick Club: 280 Lygon Street, East Brunswick. Ph 9482 7033. www.eastbrunswickclub.com
Lisa's blog: www.lisadempster.com.au (Has anyone noticed that I can't do that cool linkage where you just go "here" or the person's name to link to them? Probably you have. Probably you have assumed that I am an involuntary Luddite and have the intellectual capacity of a cat. Probably you are right. Probably, or even definitely, I will find out how to do it tomorrow and actually be able to properly link and credit all the people I talk about).