By Dan Stock, Herald Sun | May 19, 2015
THE Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations tells us to do it. So, too, world cancer research bodies. The Intercontinental Panel on Climate Change highlights it as a major contributing factor and don’t even think of getting the likes of Greenpeace or Friends of the Earth started. But the message is starting to sink in. Eating less meat is good for us, and good for the planet.
Not that you’d know this from dining at Transformer. In fact, if loudmouths like me didn’t bang on about it, there’s a real chance you wouldn’t even realise this is a vegetarian joint. No proselytising, no PETA posters, no Smiths on the stereo. Just really good food.
We’ve come a long way.
Long before Ottolenghi made salads sexy, the Vegie Bar on Brunswick St was diligently prosecuting the meat-free agenda, though aimed at a core crowd of students, hand-knit beanies and the hung-over seeking redemption, and not a great deal has changed over the past 25-odd years. It’s still going strong, if singing the same song.
From the same crew — Laki Papadopoulos and Mark Price, who also have Rice Queen across the road, and Panama Dining Room — Transformer is the Vegie Bar’s grown up meat-free sibling, where save the world angst has been replaced by a taste for noninterventionist wine and the food is focused on doing more good for the belly than it is for the soul.
The old electrical warehouse has been thankfully saved from becoming another block where “a coveted inner-city lifestyle awaits”, and instead transformed into a gloriously high-ceilinged, exposed brick and wood space, cleverly demarcated into sections so as to feel at once intimate and spacious, with lots of plants and subtle lighting in which everyone looks good.
Bookings are taken for the two sittings each night, both of which have been full since opening eight weeks ago with a mix of funky Fitzrovians and spunky empty nesters.
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