South Yarra, a trendy inner suburb of Melbourne just got its first and only vegan restaurant.
Lona Misa Bar & Kitchen boasts a bougie all-vegan menu with vegetarian options (this mainly means you can add cheese and lots of it).
You can enter Lona Misa from its street-front location on Toorak Road, South Yarra or from the lobby of Ovolo South Yarra. The designer hotel collection owns the Melbourne vegan restaurant.
Lona Misa is the latest collaboration between Melbourne hospitality legends Shannon Martinez (of Smith & Daughters) and Ian Curley (of French Saloon and Kirk’s Wine Bar) and Ovolo Hotels.
The 90-seater venue has a strong focus on local produce with both Martinez and Curley’s experience lying in farm-to-table dining.
The Melbourne restaurant’s vegan menu nods to Curley’s experience in European fine dining and Martinez’s Latin roots.
So it’s no surprise the menu features items such as smoked watermelon tostadas and shredded ‘chicken’ braised in roasted tomatillo salsa.
Lona Misa offers an all-day menu made up of snacks and small plates, big plates and sides.
Begin with the breakfast menu. It features a selection of Spanish favourites such as The Full Spanish, a wedge of tortilla, sofrito braised with beans, eggs your way, greens, marinated goats curd and served with pan con tomate. Or opt simply for the Breakfast Burrito.
The lunch and dinner-time snacks and small plates section of the menu lends itself to sharing. That way you can sample the largest number of dishes possible. So that’s exactly what we did.
We had the queso con chorizo, a bowl of creamy warm cheese dip topped with crispy chorizo and served with totopos. It uses soy-based meat as the chorizo and as a die-hard meat-eater myself I was pleasantly surprised.
Must-try menu items
If you visit the Melbourne vegan restaurant don’t go past the roasted padron and manchego croquettas. Crispy bechemel croquettas are filled with roasted spicy padrons and manchego cheese and served with aioli. These were hands down my favourite. Plus they’re bite-size meaning you can have more than one (or the whole plate of five) guilt-free.
The menu has an entire section dedicated to The Josper – an innovative Spanish oven that grills over charcoal at very high heat. Lona Misa is the only vegan restaurant to be using the advanced technique. Try the peri peri cauliflower roasted over fire and basted in peri peri sauce.
Big plates items on offer during dinner include Chille Relleno En Nogada, a sweet roasted poblano pepper stuffed with spiced ground meat and topped with walnut cream sauce and pomegranate seeds. And Moqueca, a Brazilian seafood stew cooked in a spicy coconut, tomato and lime broth, served on rice.
Sample ‘The Pedro’ a thoughtful mix of Pineapple Tio Pepe Sherry, Pedro Ximenez Sherry, fresh OJ, pineapple, sugar, mint and seasonal berries. The bar offers an approachable wine list with a spectrum of classics to compliment Lona Misa’s dishes.
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Food for thought
Whether you’ve been vegan for decades or you’re a carnivore at heart just wanting to test the waters, Lona Misa should be on your restaurant hit-list. Its success is simple – it offers great food that everybody loves.
“Whilst the menu might be vegan and vegetarian, the dishes are still delicious as ever, replicating meat-based flavour profiles through texture and taste,” Shannon Martinez said.
That I can vouch for. I ordered the ‘prawn augachile’, prawns with cucumber and red onion dressed with a spicy coriander and lime dressing. It came out looking like a prawn, felt like a prawn and tasted like a prawn. But you guessed it, it was not a prawn. It was made from konjac root but that didn’t make it any less delicious.
- Breakfast (Café); Monday – Sunday 6.30am – 10.30am
- All-day Dining Café: Monday – Sunday 11am-11pm
- Dinner Restaurant: Thursday – Saturday 5.30pm-11pm
- Bar: Monday – Sunday 11am-11pm