Vegans everywhere will have heard of Smith & Daughters, their cookbook is available at all good independent book retailers (Foyles and Herbivore are two of my faves), and their super instagrammable merch can be seen decorating vegan denim jackets across the globe. I'm more into quick, delicious, filling eats than fancy sit down dining so their sister spot Smith & Deli was my favoured stop during my visit to Melbourne. I'm not kidding when I say that I ate here almost every single day they were open during my 10 day visit so I was able to try a fair amount of their seriously epic menu.
Taking up two whole blackboards epic is really the only appropriate word to describe the sandwich menu here and they range from simple grilled cheeses all the way through to ridiculous seitan and cheese stuffed masterpieces. They have an impressive range of sides and snacks to choose from including pies and sausage rolls and their specials seem to change almost daily. The other rad thing about Smith & Deli is that it's also a store, whilst you're in line waiting to order you can browse fridges, freezers, and shelves full of vegan deliciousness from local vegan cheeses to imported faux fish.
Don't forget to grab a bar of delicious Food Empowerment Project certified chocolate from Seed and Bean, the Sicilian Hazelnut bar is particularly amazing if you're craving something creamy.
My very first choice from the menu was the Free Willy 2, a tuna mayo and melted cheese sammie on lightly toasted sourdough. This was one of my very favourite sandwiches pre-vegan and I've never had a vegan version this good despite having made it myself multiple times with faux tunas, chickpea tunas and, once, a nut and red onion based tuna.
The sandwich was a freaking delight but the best thing about my first visit to Smith & Deli was the service. It was off the charts amazing and I kinda wanted to hug the ladies serving me! As I've mentioned here a few times I have an allergy to all things pepper related (no bell peppers, no capsicum, no chilli, no paprika) and people in restaurants and cafes across the world seem to find it a struggle to deal with. I've been given blank stares and head shakes, I've been told that it isn't a real allergy, and, most annoyingly, I've been given food that very clearly contains those ingredients.
I don't mind when I'm in a country where I can't speak the language, that's on me for not learning to communicate properly, but when the person I'm dealing with can clearly understand the words coming out of my mouth it's pretty annoying. At Smith & Deli they listened to what I was saying, checked the seasonings in everything that went into the sandwich, made a super helpful switch from their usual paprika containing cheddar cheese to a homemade mozzarella and they didn't even seem to be thinking that I was the worlds most annoying human despite the fact that there was a fairly substantial line. This combo of amazing food and amazing service is what got me coming back to Smith & Deli again and again.
Desserts weren't my focus at Smith & Deli, I'm honestly more of a savoury girl, but Nick and I couldn't resist trying one of their salted caramel popcorn doughnuts and a brownie.
The doughnut was wonderful, I'm pretty sure we tried another flavour later on in our trip which is saying something given that the amazing Doughnut Time isn't far away. The caramel wasn't too sweet and I loved the fun addition of popcorn. The brownie on the other hand wasn't my fave, I suspect that it was gluten free because it was a little crumbly and it was way more cake like than a brownie should be. Give it a miss and grab a doughnut instead.
Obviously there were a lot of sandwiches that I couldn't try because the chilli / bell peppers / paprika were a key feature (although I'm sure they would have modified some of them if I'd really wanted them to!) but there was plenty to keep me happy. The Eggs-Orcist was my second choice and boy was it a good one, egg salad piled high with crunchy iceberg lettuce on sourdough, you can't really go wrong with that combo.
I also gave the Nobody Calls Me Chicken Salad a whirl and it was another hit as was the Free Willy, a non-toasted and cheese free version of the Free Willy 2. If you forced me to rate these sandwiches I'd probably put the tuna in first place followed by the egg salad with the chicken salad coming in last but really they're all amazing and I would just recommend getting three sandwiches!
Nick's favourites were the sadly non photogenic Home Alone which came with turkey, stuffing, roasted brussels sprouts, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and gravy on a roll. It was impossible to eat in public but perfect for a messy Air B&B lunch. His other true love was the Hail Seitan which was toasted and stuffed full of salami, ham, turkey, pineapple, BBQ sauce and cheddar cheese. He ate this in the car because he's classy!
The one sandwich that took me a week to get my paws on was the Egg Mc Martinez. It was always sold out by the time we rocked up so on our final weekend in the city we got up early to beat the crowds and the sandwich was finally mine! This riff on an Egg McMuffin consists of an English muffin stuffed with their mind blowingly tasty tofu egg, vegan bacon, cheddar (which they happily switched to their homemade mozzarella), and your choice of sauce. I went for the aioli because why would you not?
This turned out to be my absolute favourite sandwich, it's only $7 which is a total bargain (you can have two!), and it contains so many of my favourite things. Saturday is also croissant day at Smith and Deli and the trick to getting both a croissant and an Egg McMartinez is to arrive early but not too early! 9:30am seemed to be the sweet spot. Sadly the ham and cheese croissant sammie that I'd had my eye on since before leaving the UK is pre baked so there was no way to switch the cheese to something I wasn't allergic to but the combination of an Egg McMartinez plus an almond croissant kinda made up for it.
This thing of beauty was an excellent way to start the day and I will definitely be repeating this breakfast next time I'm in Melbourne for the weekend.
As you can tell I am a huge Smith & Deli fan girl! Nick and I often make ourselves choose three restaurants / cafes / food trucks from around the word that we would pick up and transport to wherever we happen to be living and Smith and Deli is definitely in my top three. Wanna play the game? Tell me where you'd pick in the comments!