21 Oct Smith & Deli, Fitzroy
Smith & Daughters took the vegan dining scene by storm, being incredibly popular by both vegans and non-vegans alike. Earlier this year Shannon Martinez and Mo Wyse opened up Smith & Deli a block away to cater more for the casual day-time crowd, though it doesn’t close until 7pm so it’s perfect for grabbing a thing or two on the way home.
There are ready-to-go meals like salads, pizza, lasagne and pies, and vegan sweets that are sitting temptingly next to the coffee counter. Its impressive selection of sandwiches are made to order and use a variety of wheat gluten and tempeh based mock meats. There are breakfast-type sandwiches which are avaiable all day, and even vegan croissants. It also doubles as a deli (hence the name), providing cans and packets of all sorts of treats and snacks, nuts, drinks in the fridge, fresh bread, and a small selection of house-made products.
I was here for the sandwiches and I had my eye on the Reubenstein. There was a bit of a queue so I had to be patient, but man, that first bite was amazing. The toasted rye was delicious in itself and the crunch it afforded made me giddy with anticipation. I’ve been somewhat scarred by wheat gluten, due to my mum’s enthusiastic use of canned ‘Vegetarian Chop Suey’ when I was little and my absolute hate for the gluten bits inside. I still can’t touch it to this day. Not even the sauce in the can that I’ve now associated with it. She has on occassion tried to sneak in the sauce and other ingredients without the wheat gluten, but…sorry mum. I always know. Thankfully my experience with mock-meat at Smith & Deli was far, far better. The “pastrami”, which is gluten-based, had some beautiful charred smoky edges and tasted faintly of aniseed. Obviously being a mock-meat it wasn’t as firm as real meat and it lacked fibrous structure. It was smooth, but not mushy. There was liberal use of juicy pickles, lots of moist and tangy sauerkraut, and a nice layer of cheese to mellow out the flavours and tie everything together. I did wish there was a little more pastrami to balance out the bite from the other ingredients, but I was still incredibly satisfied. I just wish I hadn’t eaten it so fast so I could savour it for longer.
I also picked up a loaf of sourdough fruit bread, which was packed with figs, juicy apricots, currants, sultanas and orange peel. It was a day-old discounted loaf, but we enjoy fruit loaf toasted anyway, and it was mum’s favourite fruit loaf so far. Toasted at home with a slick of butter on the surface? Just yum.
There were so many tempting sandwich choices at Smith & Deli that it did actually take me a while to settle on the Reubenstein. I might just have to come back for more.