MELBOURNE | Transformer opened in 2014, and there wasn’t quite anything like it in Melbourne at the time. Laki Papadopoulos and Mark Price, who were best known for their longstanding casual vegetarian diner, Vegie Bar, converted the former electrical transformer factory behind that venue into something more grown up. I was recently invited to check it out, the first time I’d been back in a while.
At Transformer, diners are treated to a sophisticated menu of vegan (about half the menu) and vegetarian dishes, presented in a way that feels as fresh today as it did when the restaurant opened. The focus is on making the most of seasonal, local produce, sourced from small suppliers. You won’t find any “fake meat” on the menu here – there’s simply no need for it. It’s the kind of menu that meat eaters can work their way through without really noticing that there’s no meat.
An a la carte menu is available most of the time, except for Friday and Saturday nights, when Transformer’s “feed me” or “feed me more” menu is what you’ll need to go for. It’s food that’s fresh, creative, and delicious. Standouts include the zucchini flower with pine nut risotto, currants, basil, piquillo peppers, and agrodolce; roast cauliflower with ras-el-hanout, white onion, puree, blood orange, hazelnuts, and rose harissa; and the grilled cos with capers, shallots, tarragon ‘mayonnaise’, and Pyengana cheddar.
The optional dessert – a hazelnut brownie with red wine roasted pear, whipped Gianduja ganache, and vanilla ‘cream’, is another winner.
To drink, Transformer offers cocktails made using small batch, local spirits, local craft brews and wines, and a selection of mocktails and other non-alcoholic drinks. Try the ‘Me Lychee’. It’s a blend of vodka, lychee liqueur, blood orange liqueur, lemon, makrut lime, and Wonderfoam. The latter is a plant-based egg white replacement made from the bark of the Quillaja saponaria tree.
9 Rose Street
Telephone: (03) 9419 2022
E-mail: [email protected]
Wed – Fri: 5:30pm to 10:30pm
Sat – Sun: 1:00pm to 2:30pm, 5:30pm to 10:30pm