They say that birds of a feather flock together. Lilydale’s latest dining destination, Round Bird Can’t Fly is choosing the solo route and soaring high. This approach is already working for the local food scene in Lilydale and it helps when Round Bird Can’t Fly decides to position itself on the doorstop to much of Melbourne’s finest local produce. Round Bird Can’t Fly was conceived between Laura Webb-James and Evan James; a culinary partnership that stemmed from a love of food and a desire to fly solo from some of Melbourne’s reputable kitchens at which they've been nesting prior. From here, Round Bird Can’t Fly was born; a smart-casual dining spot that borders on the fine, accentuated by sleek timber table lines, metal seats and a local grocery corner.
The swift and sturdy team at Round Bird is no stranger to Melbourne’s outer east, creating original, hearty meals for foodies and day-trippers alike. Round Bird also spotted an opportunity to explore vegan and gluten free cooking for an ever-growing demand for such dietary requirements. Sure enough, a vegan tab was recently added to its flipbook menu so as to meet its expanding market.
When two hungry vegans show up like my husband and I, then a big order to meet big appetites is to be expected. Even our knowledgeable and cheery waitress was doubtful when we ordered three meals. ‘Would it be too much?’, while my mind was asking: ‘Would it be enough?’ After sipping lemongrass and ginger tea and soaking in the Spring sun at a curb-side timber bench, our meals arrived to resounding excitement. Doubts were quashed in a good way. Not only did Round Bird’s kitchen deliver our three meals, all showcased on bespoke crockery, each one proved to be more than ample in size and teaming with local flavours to match.
Homestyle nourishment is thus key here. Take for example the vegan corn and jalepeno burger, ferried along by a decent side of thickly cut chips; enough to fill a lunch-time hole in the tummy, and easy on the spice factor. Within the burger, a thick slab of wholesome house-made vegan cheese was a welcomed surprise though did prove to be deceptive (is it vegan?). Yet, you rarely find house-made vegan cheese; a keen and innovative move by Round Bird for this already flavoursome vegan dish.
Next up was the broccolini salad on a nest of miso-marinated eggplant, freshly steamed beans and brown rice. The miso marinade – together with spongy-soft baked eggplant – gave wholesome volume to a predominantly green salad; tangy and rich. What topped the dish, aside from the marinade, were crispy and filling tempura mushrooms; delicious when dipped into the miso marinade lightly dripping from the eggplant.
Another fulfilling choice from Round Bird’s vegan menu was the corn fritters, buoyed by a black bean and tomato ragout. Two thick slices of gluten free toast anchored this dish on which the full-flavoured ragout was spooned. But, not before the fluffy corn fritters were squeezed over in lime juice and munched on before they risk being softened by the ragout.
It almost seems like over-indulgence when ordering three dishes, yet there were enough holes in our appetites to fill while sampling one of the finest vegan menus that Lilydale – even Melbourne’s east – has to offer. And, that’s the result when a round bird secretly decides it can fly. Just be sure to pack a vegan dessert like a rhubarb crumble from the dessert cabinet when you pay the bill afterwards. You’ll need to sample Round Bird’s sweet flavours well after you’ve digested your vegan feast.
Pull up a nest and order your own vegan feast at Round Bird Can’t Fly, 170 Main Street, Lilydale, Victoria, 3140. Hours: Monday to Friday 7.00am to 4.00pm, Saturday and Sunday 8.00am to 4.00pm.