Merri Table and Bar is a relatively new restaurant at ceres (Centre for Education and Research in Environmental Strategies) which is pronounce. It's mostly vegetarian, there was only one or two meat dish on the menu when we visited. The cusine is middle eastern, but quite upmarket with an emphasis on sharing several small dishes. It's really quite unlike the ceres cafe and market which has quite a hippie feel to it.
I wish I would have taken my camera to take some pictures of the interior which is gorgerous and the restaurant is surrounded by trees which almost had us convinced that we were in the country. Instead I needed to rely on my phone camera, so I apologise for the dodgy photos.
Toby and I actually tried to visit a fortnight ago with Cindy and Michael but was turned away on a Saturday night since it was booked out. This time we booked, which seemed un-necessary this time because there was only 2 other customers in the restaurant. We were running late as usual, so by the time we arrived our friends Brunswick Bec and Troy had already sussed out what was vegan and gluten free options. Thankfully all of the vegan items could be made gluten free when requested and there was only a few items on the savoury menu which couldn't be made vegan.
I was also impressed to see that they had even had listed which wines were vegan, low preservative, organic and biodynamic. You can check out their current menu here. We ordered a bottle of Karina Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc to share which was great, although neither of us are wine buffs so can't really comment beyond that.
While we were pondering what to order when they brought us some complimentary fresh figs served with pickles, tomato and thin beetroot. The combination was lovely and reminded me that I should eat more fresh figs!
We had the seasonal vegetables dips and instead of the usual bread just had corn chips. The two vegan dips they provided were hummus which was served with pickles.
The other dip was smoked pumpkin. Everyone loved this, it was super smokey almost like baba ganoush but with pumpkin.
I was intrigued by the sound of the silverbeet and quinoa sarma with roasted ketchup which was basically tangy quinoa served inside rolled sillverbeet and served with roasted tomatoes. Tasty and such a great idea, Bec and Troy agreed that this was their second favourite dish of the night.
The vegetables fritters are normally served with an almond mayo but our vegan version were served with what I suspect to be tahini. The fritters change based what's in season and this time it was broccoli covered in a chickpea batter. They were crunchy and were the overall standout dish of the night. Next time, we must order two serves.
The smashed carrots with almond and mint were incredibly tender.
The orange fennel salad was simple but delicious.
Toby was very happy when the protein filled M'jaddarah arrived. This dish consisted of rice and lentils miced together with a range of spices and served with chickpea vermicelli and cooked onions on top. It was also served with falafel and a tomato sauce. We ordered 2 serves of this to share and it's not surprising that this was his favourite dish. The falafel seemed quite different to normal falafel but we couldn't pinpoint what was different.
I couldn't resist trying the cauliflower kisir which really did resemble tabbouli, I'm not sure I would have guessed that it was was cauliflower if it wasn't told. It was served with mint and I think dill.
We all had a serve each of the one vegan dessert: firin sutlac or turkish rice pudding. This had a strong cinnamon flavour and contained lime zest and was outstanding.
Our bill for the four of us was around $140 including a bottle of wine. So it was not a cheap night out but the food was really simple yet beautiful, service was great and the place had such a lovely feel to it that we didn't mind at all. Plus they had plenty of gluten free vegan options and lots of bicycle racks. The age and Brian from Fitzroyalty both gave it good reviews.You should check out Brian's reviews for some better pictures and I promise next time I will take my camera. Be sure to advise them that you want vegan or gluten free options so they can make the necessary adjustments!
Merri Table and Bar
Corner of Stewart and Robert St