We recently attended the launch of a cool new restaurant in Fitzroy; Smith & Daughters.
I was quite intrigued by the invitation to taste Smith & Daughters' plant based, Mexican/ Latin America inspired cuisine. The invite itself was peculiar (and very well thought out), with a small jar of chilli sauce arriving at our doorstep together with the launch details.
BFFs and dynamic duo Shannon and Mo are passionate about locally & ethically sourced, good quality produce and dreamed of creating an eatery that reflected their values and personality. It is clear from the moment you walk through the door that Smith & Daughters is the labour of love.
Now, everyone who reads this blog knows that hubby and I are meat lovers (specially hubby!) and we'll rarely go without some form of animal protein when we go out for dinner. But at home it's a different story. I mainly cook vegetarian meals and would be happy to go for days without red meat.
So I decided to give hubby a miss for the Smith & Daughters launch and take a vegetarian friend along who would be a much better judge at the menu than either of us.
First impressions are always important and Smith & Daughters got the tick, tick and tick of approval for ambiance, vibe and staff. The place was buzzing when we arrive and we loved the amazing margaritas with chilli and cucumber we were greeted with.
|Tromba tequila margaritas|
|Tuna and green pea croquettas served with caper aioli|
I'm new to vegan and was surprised to see 'tuna' and 'aioli' on the menu. The range of faux meat, egg and dairy products is amazing. The croquettas were great - perfectly cooked and crunchy on the outside and very tasty. The faux aioli was pretty good as well and I probably wouldn't have been able to tell the difference from the real egg version.
|Tamales filled with mushroom and corn|
The tamales were also very tasty and well executed. Think of soft polenta filled with mushroom and corn. Fresh lime and coriander were the perfect finish and added lightness to the dish.
|Pazole - Colombian black beans soup|
My friend was a big fan of the 'Pazole' - a black beans broth with chunky corn, oyster mushrooms, pickled cabbage, crispy tortilla strips and fresh lime. The broth was really spicy (a bit too much spicy for me) and full of flavour. The crispy tortilla added a nice texture to the dish.
|Chef Shannon cooking the paella|
After a feast of Mexican small and large dishes, the piece de resistance arrived - Shannon's family recipe paella with saffron stock, green peas, veg prawns, sausage and scallops.
Again, this dish was an explosion of flavours and I could tell a lot of TLC went into preparing the stock. The rice was unevenly cooked unfortunately - it was a very big paella - but all the elements were there for a great dish.
The concept of faux meat is a big weird for me. Specially the prawns in the paela tasted very similar to the real thing, just not quite right.
My vegetarian friend thought the same. She liked the purely veggie dishes and was put off by the prawns, chorizo and anything else that resembled animal protein.
The highlights of Smith & Daughters for me were the fresh and very flavoursome veggie dishes, as well as the atmosphere. The place had a great vibe and we had a fantastic night. I would also come back any day for the cocktails. Thanks to Smith & Daughters I discovered chilli and tequila go hand in hand :)
Certainly worth a visit for the fans of Latin American cuisine.