I like to imagine that the conversation went something like this:
“What if, hear me out, we served pub food, but vegan!”
“Why would that be any good, Bob?”
“Linda, you always poo-poo my ideas.”
“I mean, Bob, I love you, but I just think the public won’t really take to the idea of a vegan pub, that’s all.”
“But we will open it in Rozelle, darling.”
That’s how I like to imagine The Green Lion was born.
I love the idea of a vegan pub. It is as if someone put all the nouns in the English language into a hat, drew out two words to make a thing, and then sprinkled on top a little “feel good” – monkey wrench, sofa scarf, geography printer… viola! (Except monkey wrench is a real thing, and so is a vegan pub)
Discovering the Sydney Vegan Club‘s 10-course degustation event on my Facebook feed between the fake news and cries of agony about Trump was something of a Christmas miracle. I messaged Will immediately after the discovery – WE HAVE TO TRY THIS THING!
The organiser, Kym, told me that the Sydney vegan society is the fifth largest in the world, and is bigger than the New York vegan society. He organised weekly events for the Sydney vegan society. I couldn’t help myself introducing Viva to Kym. Viva seemed like such a perfect medium for organising events for the vegan society’s members and to introduce these events to people who would have never discovered them before. I reminded myself not to be a pushy salesman – let’s not cancel out the good deed of eating vegan with the bad deed of annoying a kind stranger.
The degustation started with deep fried “seafood”, which tasted genuinely like battered prawn and calamari. My friend who was lunching with me was vegetarian, and asked if we had come to the wrong place because the food tasted so much like real seafood. We didn’t know. Deep fried “seafood” wasn’t on the original menu, and neither of us wanted to interrupt the staff to ask. The crowd looked “vegan”, so we plowed forth in blind faith.
Faux cheese burgers were next on the menu, with delicious pickles and a side of chips.
Eating the burger reminded me of a trip I took to China a long time ago with my father. He took me to a vegan restaurant which served faux bacon that tasted better than the real thing, with strips that had the varying textures and tastes of the rind, fat and meat. The faux cheese burgers were not that good, but it reminded me of the fakcon that has gained a mythic status in my imagination.
The fish tacos were a little drier than expected, but we were super happy to be eating in an air-conditioned bistro on a scorching day.
Our tummies were already filled by the time the loaded poutine fries came out. I wished they served more green vegetables, before realising the irony of wanting more vegetables at a vegan lunch.
Potato “scallops” was an interesting dish, but only because the menu put “scallops” in inverted commas.
“Do you think they thought we would mistake these for real scallops? I thought scallops here was the second meaning, for the shape.”
I thought about how eating always brought conversations back to food.
The Green Lion served a second burger. I forgot to ask how this one was different to the first, but we noticed there were pieces of corn inside these ones.
“Are beers vegan?” I asked.
“Yeah, they must be.”
“Kinda gross if they weren’t… right?”
Our conversation shifted to how various foods would be gross if they weren’t vegan, while we appreciated what we had in front of us did not pass through, on or under any living creatures.
The vegetable curry with papadum was the standard pub affair. It tasted like they missed a few vital spices, or it could be because we were beyond sated by then, having eaten twice as much as we would ordinarily eat for lunch.
We had to rush the last two dishes because I had a coffee meeting with The Interns, but we managed to snap photos before we dashed. I think pizza was peri-peri faux-chicken and the dessert was a vegan choc-fudge brownie.
All of that for a very reasonable $40.
The verdict: we would recommend trying.
The vegan society organises other interesting events like this, and we will put them onto Viva in the future for everyone to discover.