If the recent spate of openings is anything to go by, vegan is the new black. The Alley is the latest eatery to cater to plant-eaters, celebrating wholesome, fast and sustainable comfort food.
The fast-food concept is giving the typical pop-culture burger joint a good shake up, aiming to revolutionise vegan eating as we know it. Founder, Alexandra Pyke, wanted to bridge the gap between strict vegans and everyday consumers who may want to be more conscious of their food choices, while not sacrificing those much-loved meals.
Alexandra was perfectly placed to do so, having spent the last few years helping to establish three of New York’s neighbourhood institutions – The Fat Raddish, The Leadbelly and The Butchers Daughter. Returning home to Melbourne, she knew the next step was to create a venue that provided Melburnians accessible and fun vegan food that more than matched the city’s infamous cafe scene.
The Alley does just that. The overarching ethos is rooted in health and sustainability, so ingredients are found as locally as possible and waste is kept to a minimum. These ingredients are then translated into menu items that read like that of a traditional burger joint.
At first glance it’s hard to find the plant-based meals, but look a little closer and you’ll find a beet (rather than beef) burger. Hidden within the beet-steak burgers meaty exterior is a patty made from beetroot, black beans and tempeh. It’s served in a brioche bun (not too sweet, just delightfully fluffy) with the usual trimmings including vegan sriracha aioli.
Another popular item that will have you shouting “I can’t believe it’s not meat!” is the Hawaiian burger. Instead of pork, there’s barbecued pulled jackfruit with grilled pineapple, lettuce, tomato and onion with vegan aioli in a light brioche bun.
There’s also gluten-free dairy-free pastas, taco bowls, salads, guilt-free desserts, acai bowls, cold-pressed juices and smoothies. Stop by at lunch to order to Maple Bacon burger with smoky paprika aioli, or opt for the mac’n’cheese with coconut bacon and crispy kale. You’ll be able to wash everything down with a kombucha, or if you’re feeling fancy, a craft beer or bio-dynamic wine.
Open for breakfast and lunch, The Alley is perfectly located for both portable breakfasts, or long lunches. There will also be a seasonal selection of ‘grab and go’ options, ensuring there’s no reason to go hungry.
It’s not just the menu that reflects Alexandra’s sustainable ethos. The interior, designed by Travis Walton Architecture, is a laidback urban retreat, with an emphasis on greenery and calming tones.