I’ve previously blogged about the fantastic range of dried goods and produce available at Friends of the Earth, but last week was the first time I sampled some of the vegan/vegetarian food served in the laidback cafe.

During the week you can get a mixed salad plate which has a bit of everything heaped on it, much like the selection offered at The Tofu Shop International in Richmond. However, on Sundays they do a pie and salad plate for $9.50 where you get to choose a hot-out-of-the-oven vegan pie – on my visit, a choice between a shiitake pie, curry pie, thai style pie and mexican pie – plus a heap of mixed salad as a side accompaniment.

After much discussion with the staff about which was the best pie, I settled on the shiitake pie – basically because it was described as ‘very meaty’ and because I’m a fan of mushrooms.

I defy anyone, vegetarian or carnivorous, to not be impressed by this pie.

The outstanding pastry, presumably made without eggs and butter, was light and flaky to the point of wispiness on the top. The filling contained mashed potato and what looked like hunks of braised beef – I’m never seen shiitake turned into mock meat before! It wasn’t overly ‘mushroomy’ in aroma and I actually considered taking it home to RM to see whether he could distinguish the ingredients, as he is a meat-eater and generally dislikes a dish comprising only mushrooms.

As for the salads, they were good but didn’t blow me away in the same way as the pie. They all tasted fresh and healthy, which is what I was aiming for.

I accompanied my meal with a pot of Byron Bay soy chai ($3.50) which I found to be a little watery as I like my chai thickly fragrant. It wasn’t bad, just not rave-worthy.

Unlike the pie! I cannot emphasise enough – go and check out Friends of the Earth on a Sunday. With the sun streaming through the windows, a friendly vibe and healthy food, it’s a great place to relax on a weekend.

For more healthy eats in the area (but not on Sundays) try Las Vegan.

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