During this period of social distancing, I will be reviewing restaurants I visited way back when but who are still doing pickup and/or delivery during this time. Please support them by ordering whatever you can from them – whether it’s food, merch or fresh produce – to help them stay afloat in these difficult times.
Where: Euro Kitchen Vegan Café, 100 Kerr Street Fitzroy
What: Vegan Balkan comfort food
Who: Sand Pirate Penguin, Feminist Film Fatale
Bloat score: 3 – I could have balanced a glass of wine on my bloated stomach
Sometime last year – I believe it was a long weekend when uninterrupted time to yourself was something to celebrate – Sand Pirate Penguin, Feminist Film Fatale and I met up for lunch. If I’m not mistaken, we’d intended to go to Vegie Mum (read my review of it here where, incidentally, these two last appeared) but it wasn’t open so we went somewhere else on Sand Pirate Penguin’s recommendation – Euro Kitchen Vegan Café.
Euro Kitchen is tucked away on the corner of Brunswick Street and Kerr Street and is somewhere I would’ve passed a thousand times without paying heed to it. It’s cosy and comfortable, with teal splashback walls and suspended light fittings bathing the place in a pleasant glow.
Euro Kitchen’s plant-based menu was perfect for the vegan Sand Pirate Penguin, the vegetarian Feminist Film Fatale and the omnivorous me who is forever trying to reduce my meat consumption.
The menu was extensive and it took me a few minutes to settle on what I wanted (I obviously hadn’t had a chance to scour the menu online beforehand!). True to its name, the menu was exceedingly European, specifically Balkan, with vegan renditions of traditionally meat-heavy staples – Macedonian polnati piperki (stuffed capsicums) sat alongside Bulgarian leshta (lentil and potato casserole) and Hungarian goulash (stew).
I love food from this region, hence the indecision, but eventually landed on the stuffed sour cabbage rolls where traditional mince meat was replaced with vegan mince sautéed with rice, pepper, paprika, onion and garlic and topped with sour cream and chives. The mention of hot chilli oil upon request only served to seal the deal. I never typically order stuffed cabbage rolls because they’re usually doused in a tomato sauce but this didn’t make any mention of it.
Something I was trepidatious about, however, was the note on the menu saying it was a large serve and one that you should order only if you’re hungry. I asked for the waitstaff’s advice and they made rough hand gestures as to how big the cabbage rolls would be and I thought ‘I can do that!’
Reader, I was wrong. I couldn’t do it. Two cabbage rolls arrived and they were thick doorstopper wedges filled to within an inch of their life with vegan mince-laced rice. I would’ve been full after one of these rolls; two was a lot.
I remember enjoying these while I still had the capacity to eat them – the outer cabbage skins were dusted with paprika and the dollops of sour cream were a fresh counterpoint to the herbaceous rice filling, but I’d definitely recommend sharing this between two people. In hindsight, I should’ve just taken the extra roll away, but takeaway never occurs as an option to me until there’s too little for me to doggy bag, too much for me to conceivably continue.
After hearing the waitstaff wax lyrical about the vegan mash, Sand Pirate Penguin swapped out the chips in her chicken schnitzel for mash and didn’t regret it. The schnitzel was good, but the mash was the highlight.
Neither did Feminist Film Fatale, whose serve of vegan Swedish meatballs came atop a bed of mash as well as mushroom sauce, lingonberries and pickled cucumber. I stared in envy at their regular sized meals and did try a bit of the mash to find that it was exceedingly smooth and creamy, true to the waitstaff’s exaltations.
Euro Kitchen has a great eclectic menu of Balkan traditional foods made vegan and I’d love to visit again – I’m intrigued about the vegan mutton in their goulash and their vegan spin on ćevapi sausages. I ended up with three bloats – cabbage is generally low-histamine, but people who struggle with broader IBS issues are advised to abstain from it, and abstain from it I did not. I suspect the vegan mince and onion in the rice filling potentially contributed to the bloat rating as well. Find out below how you can dine on Euro Kitchen’s fare without dining in.
Euro Kitchen Vegan Café is open from 12pm to 6pm Monday to Thursday, from 12pm to 3pm and 5.30pm to 7.30pm Friday to Saturday, and from 12pm to 3pm and 5pm to 7pm on Sunday. Order readymade meals and frozen meals online for pickup or delivery – delivery is free if you live in Fitzroy or Collingwood. Follow Euro Kitchen on Instagram to learn about their weekly specials.