99 Rose St, Fitzroy VIC
(03) 9419 2022
The terms ‘contemporary’ and ‘vegetarian’ don’t often appear one after another. The team at Transformer are looking to change that, producing simple and beautiful produce-driven food that takes vegetarian dining up a notch.
Laki Papadopoulos and Mark Price are the team behind the business. Opening Fitzroy institution Vegie Bar, 27 years ago, they soon became known for serving fresh vegetarian, vegan, gluten free and raw food at affordable prices. This deserved reputation continues to Transformer, where the same dedicated approach to cooking with vegetables is front and centre.
The inspiration behind the name is two-fold, Laki and Mark were looking to transform people’s opinions about vegetarian dining and the space also happens to occupy a former factory that used to make industrial electrical transformers, making it the perfect moniker for the project.
The menu is built around what’s in season, celebrating produce at its best. Everything is sourced from small-scale suppliers, ensuring each ingredient doesn’t travel far before landing on your plate. Biodynamic and organic baker Loafer provides the bread, while Collingwood’s Earnest Bean Co supplies the tofu, made from organic Australian soy beans. All the Asian mushrooms are organic while the dairy comes from Victorian dairy farms. A majority of the pulses, grains and ours and eggs come from Victoria. The other half of their eggs come from Josh’s Eggs in Macedon direct from the farm.
Co-head Chefs, Luke Florence and Bryce Edwards, are in charge of turning out each delicious dish. Get the flavour party started with the organic popcorn, dusted with Japanese spiced sea salt and crushed nori, before moving onto the small plates, where the creations get even tastier. The sweet corn fritter fries with chipotle mayo is a wonderful balance of texture and spice, while the ricotta and rye gnocchi, served with organic sprouted lentils, pumpkin mousse and blueberry compote is a sweet and savoury combination that will have you wishing the supply never ended.
You’ll want to keep the steamed asparagus with tru e vinaigrette, hazelnut polenta, caprino and tarragon all to yourself, but the grilled King oyster mushrooms with confit garlic and pine nut purée, smoked shallot and porcini salt will delight funghi followers everywhere. If you’re with a group that just can’t decide, opt for the ‘Feed Me’ menu, where the chefs select the best dishes of the day for you to try.
Pair your healthy but hedonistic fare with a selection of creatively crafted cocktails. Start with the kombucha spritz, before moving onto the Kawaii Five 0, incorporating green tea ume, mandarin and lemongrass sherbet, cucumber, matcha and lemon. If gin is your normal poison, choose between the Transformer G+T, featuring Melbourne Gin Company’s spirit, fennel, pink grapefruit and tonic. There is also a concise and interesting wine list that features some excellent local producers and some well chosen European wines. The selection of craft beers will keep those who are partial to the amber fluid more than happy as well.
By turning the tables on vegetarian dining, Transformer introduces a new type of indulgent eating that won’t leave anyone feeling guilty. Combining fabulous fare and decadent drinks with a wholesome outlook, it’s the perfect place for a great night out.