Food and Drink
Posted by Dan Kuseta
17. Jun, 2011
When I hear the words “Vegetarian Cafe” my mind, unfairly or not, tends to think of veggie burgers, tofu stir-fries and something involving chickpeas. So, it turns out, did Marco Sellitto. Not content with what was currently on offer for vegetarians in his hood, he decided to do something about it and opened Little Deer Tracks in Coburg earlier this month.
While a residential street off the main drag in Coburg might not seem the most obvious place to open a vegetarian cafe, Little Deer Tracks isn’t your average eatery. For instance, the fact that it’s vegetarian isn’t mentioned anywhere on the door, menu or the business card. Zip. I asked Marco about this and he replied “We don’t need to. The food speaks for itself.” Fair enough. His philosophy is good produce and traditional, Italian-inspired recipes. That means no tofu, no mock meat, no mucking around. You can tell Marco used to work at Mario’s.
The menu is divided between breakfast, available all day, and lunch, served after eleven. I arrive at noon and am stuck between worlds. Do I want Homemade Baked Beans on House Organic Sourdough Toast ($8.50) or the Cinnamon Doughnuts with Rosewater & Red Wine Jam? Or something more hearty from the lunch board?
Hearty wins. My wingman and I order the Fettucine with Eggplant Balls, Tomato and Basil ($13.50) and Spaghetti with Lentil Ragu ($11.50), though the Black Bean Pie, Mash & Broccoli Salad ($14.50) was a close contender.
While the food is being prepared I have a poke around the cafe, which also doubles as a gallery. Curated by Marco’s partner, Silvia Famularo, the idea is to give local artists a space to showcase their works. I like it. I also like what I see next.
A steaming bowl of fettucine surrounded by meat…no, eggplant balls. Similar in texture to felafel, the eggplant balls taste of herbs, aubergine and are damned good, if a tad dry. Lucky for me there’s plenty of sauce left round the dish out. Bravo.
Next up the Spaghetti with Lentil Ragu arrives, and goals keep getting kicked. I like ragu because slow cooking the meat releases all sorts of amazing flavours into the sauce, and I’m happy to discover Marco and his team produce an excellent lentil interpretation. Onion, celery, carrot and zucchini have been finely diced and simmered for hours, giving time for the flavours and aromas to be absorbed by the lentils. It’s great winter warmer stuff and I polish the whole thing off, mopping up with some crusty bread.
There’s plenty to like at Little Deer Tracks, for veg and non-veg eaters alike. It’s not about philosophies here, it’s all about mangia mangia.
Little Deer Tracks
44 O’Hea Street
Mon – Fri 7.30am – 4.30pm
Sat – Sun 8.00am – 4.30pm
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