Friday, January 10, 2014

Townsville's vegan revolution: Part 1

Before I went vegan, I loved going out for breakfast. So much so that whenever I went to diners that offered breakfast after 11am, I would usually choose a morning meal no matter the time of day. I almost always ordered french toast, but sometimes pancakes or waffles. Generally sweet things!

Upon going vegan, I had to shift my breakfast-excursions to savoury. In small diners I would order toast or a bagel with home fries and whatever veggie was around, and then usually construct myself a vegan breakfast sandwich. As I was a university student, these breakfast-excursions usually involved a hangover, and the greasy starches quite suited the circumstances, perhaps in a way that sweet breakfast would not.

I still love going out for breakfast, but in Townsville the options are pretty limited. When we do go out, I almost always have to put together a plate of sides - toast, baked beans, mushrooms (if they're not cooked in butter), spinach or avocado. It's pretty satisfying usually. The last time I went out for breakfast, though, was with Andy and some friends, and we didn't realise it was Father's Day until we were out. Our first few attempts were thwarted by completely booked-out cafes. We eventually found a spot at one, I tried to order the vegetarian breakfast with no eggs but was told that customers are not allowed to go off-script. So I ordered the usual sides, but when the baked beans came out they had sausage mixed in. So I was a bit traumatised, and we hadn't been out for breakfast since.

Fast forward to a few days ago. On a local food-related Facebook groups, there was a discussion about vegan breakfasts that brought a new(?) cafe called relish. to my attention. The owner said she had vegan granola, oats, and the plate-of-sides. I clicked "Like" on their page, and put the information away for the future.

The next day, relish. posted this on their Facebook page.

This is fairly revolutionary. Though Townsville is a city of 200,000 or so, the vegan options here are more limited than you would expect. Andy's small hometown of 5,000 in southern NSW has more vegan options. As you can imagine, it is mighty exciting to see a cafe write the word vegan anywhere on a menu, and to advertise it so blatantly. So I mentioned it to Andy and said "Let's go!!". And he said (surprisingly), "Okay, how bout tomorrow?".

And so, this morning, vegan waffles were had.

They came with two sides, so I got the mushrooms and baked beans. Perhaps not the most typical accompaniments to sweet waffles, but I didn't feel like waffles + toast. Everything was good! The mushrooms tasted a touch like vinegar, which is a flavour I love but rarely add to mushrooms when we make them. The baked beans were sweeter and more barbequey than most Aussie breakfast baked beans I've had. And the waffles were crunchy and went nicely with the berries & pomegranate syrup I ordered with them. Relish, if you read this, you should absolutely make them a permanent menu item! And/or veganise those cornmeal pancakes, because I would totally be all over that.

I will definitely come back here - in fact, when it's a bit cooler, it will be a lovely bike ride destination. I noticed bike parking around the side. Most of the tables are outside, and there are plenty of them. There was a cute but really cheeky and persistent sparrow who hung out on our table and really had no fear of humans. They have, in the style of American diners, bottomless drip coffee for $4 with any meal. It's a tad pricey, but I thought it was good value for money (but we almost never go out to eat, so maybe in comparison to other places it's not even pricey?). Loads of gluten free options.

Relish. also has two vegan-isable burgers on their lunch menu, but who needs lunch when they have all-day breakfast with vegan waffles?!

Relish. Cafe
2 Kingsway Place
Next door to Townsville Bulletin office on Flinders St West (across from Fletcher St)
Monday & Tuesday 6.30am - 2.30pm; Wednesday - Friday 6.30am - 3.30pm; Weekends & Holidays 7.30am - 3pm


Kate said...

I know, I always am excited to see vegan on any menu :) this looks great!

Kari said...

I rarely went out for breakfast pre-vegan days so it isn't something I've missed much. Like you, though, I have always liked certain breakfast dishes (again, the sweeter ones!) at any time of day - and I do miss those. I'd love this cafe I'm sure!

Cindy said...

That's awesome! Like you, I reserve the right to order sweet breakfast menu items at any time of the day that they're offered.

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Bianca said...

Awesome! It's a great feeling when your city FINALLY gets on the vegan bandwagon. I started seeing "vegan" appear on special boards and menus in Memphis about three years ago, and I was sooooo excited. Previously, Memphis was NOT very vegan-friendly at all. It still makes me giddy. Hopefully, Townsville will continue to get more and more options!

Sandy said...

Woo hoo! That is awesome news! it is exciting to have eating out options!
The waffles look delicious!

oh and LOVE LOVE the quote you have on top left hand corner! :-)

Nadine said...

Breakfast is my favourite meal and definitely going vegan has put a downer on it, I hate to say. Sometimes the meals of sides depresses me, especially cos it is always savoury and often greasy, so this is amazing to see!! Yay Townsville!

Susan said...

OK, officially jealous! I want to be able to go out and get vegan waffles.
Get with the times Brisbane!!

Susan said...

OK, officially jealous! I want to be able to go out and get vegan waffles.
Get with the times Brisbane!!

Joey said...

Go relish! Even in London, there don't seem to be huge amounts of vegan options, and never waffles, so I'm very definitely jealous!

Kayla :) said...

Wow after reading all of these other comments I feel really lucky to live in Adelaide, we have lots of places that serve vegan breakfasts or breakfasts that can easily be made vegan. I wouldn't say we have HEAPS, but I can think of around 5 good places that we go to for breakfast off the top of my head, including a place that makes great wholemeal waffles. I also love to go out for breakfast but I prefer the savoury items! It is good when places start getting with the times and realising that offering vegan food can bring in a lot of customers that they're otherwise missing. In Adelaide at the moment I'm actually seeing a rise in fully vegan cafes and, you should come here for a holiday sometime :)