A hallmark of a good restaurant and accommodating chef is the vegetarian menu. Mad Raven flapped in last Friday and so far has drawn many locals out of their cosy fireplace-warmed homes to treat their tastebuds to a refreshing menu of gourmet pizza. The "Carnivore" menu features toppings like "Sweet Pork", "Lamb Boreka" and "Moroccan Prawn Chermoula". But the Vego menu is where the fun really begins. "Margarita loves Mr. Garlic", "Smoked Tofu Parmigiana" and "Pumpkin Perfection" are but a few of the tantalising options.
Hubby and I skipped across Monbulk Road to the Kallista Cellars to grab a bottle of cleanskin Merlot, and bounded back, eagerly waiting outside the front door of the restaurant to the quizzical looks of the waiter and chef, who were still just opening the doors (it was 5.30 and we were very hungry!) - but they were nice enough to allow us inside to get out of the frosty Dandenongs night air. The restaurant itself is quite small: two booths accommodating four people each inside, and some outside booths for warmer nights - or those too late to snag an indoor seat. The decor is homely and comforting with interesting nick nacks possibly from the quirky antique store next door, with cool jazzy tunes playing in the background. Our young waiter was eager to assist, very knowledgeable of the menu and, it must be said, a sweetheart.
We chose to share an entree of "Teriyaki Saganaki Prawns" which came out in a hot saganaki dish - the most delicious concoction of grilled prawns, resting on juicy, salty nori sheets and swimming in a ginger, spring onion and sweet teriyaki sauce, topped off with fresh coriander leaves. The combo of salty, sweet and the fresh zing from the coriander was truly wonderful and devoured before I could even think of taking a photo. For the main, Mr T went with the "Goa Chicken" pizza, with spicy chicken red onion and yogurt dressing with a healthy topping of fresh coriander. I went with the "Hot Pesto" - my idea of pizza heaven including all of my favourite toppings: pesto, mozzarella, goat's cheese, loads of fresh sliced chilli, sambal, red onions and ... anchovies.
After smacking our lips and devouring our pizzas, against our better judgement we shared a dessert: "lemon curd mousse tart" which was every bit as delicious as it sounds. It came topped with a generous pile of persian fairy floss and some double cream on the side.
A new restaurant pops up in the main street of our sleepy little town and as if that's not exciting enough - it turns out to be one of the loveliest I've ever had the pleasure of eating in. And I've eaten in some lovely restaurants, so that's really saying someting.