Smith and Daughters Latin American Romance in Brunswick
Smith and Daughters has an amazing feel to it; a Latin American restaurant on Brunswick St that is the result of a dream of two zany and extrovert ladies, award winning chef Shannon Martinez (ex Gasometer, The Sweetwater Inn and South), and Mo Wyse (ex Manager at The People's Market), bringing her design and business savvy expertise. Smith and Daughters promises much if the recent launch is anything to go by. The World Loves Melbourne was invited seemingly along with half the hipsters of Brunswick. Let it be said, Smith and Daughters is not exclusively for hipsters; it brings vegan food to Melburnians in a new way.
Smith and Daughters is all about the food and wine experience; it just so happens to be vegan (food without animals). To be honest, upon receiving the invite, I thought to myself that Smith and Daughters looks an interesting concept, Latin American vegan, but I'd probably head for a burger afterwards. How wrong I was. Although a pork belly tragic, I fell in love with Smith and Daughters and was highly impressed by its inventiveness, technique and sophistication. And I was full at the end of the meal!
Melbourne lacks great vegan restaurants in my humble opinion. Often the vegan element is covered by a "vegan option" served up at Melbourne's leading restaurants. This is fine but Smith and Daughters enters the fray with a passion and a verve that compels, and an extensive menu.
Smith and Daughters was pumping for it's Friday night launch as hipster central. The ambience is alluring with high ceilings, stone walls, windows housing candles and religious figures, some foliage, dark timber floors, quirky artwork and a neon sign with a nod to all things vegan.
For a launch this was mighty generous. The Sangria, Spanish beer, cocktails and wine was all flowing. Cocktails were in abundance including a popular version of the Margeurita.
Shannon here brought a sense of theatre by cooking up the paella in front of enthusiastic diners.
Mo is a livewire and gave a brilliant speech about living the dream and the philosophy of Smith and Daughters. She told us that Shannon doesn't serve up small portions and although this was a tasting of the main menu, it was substantial. We were served 3 small plates, 3 big plates and 2 desserts! The tones and the delivery of this night smacked of a ground breaking restaurant...
Smith and Daughters has the quirky elements of Latin America in fitout and cuisine.
Oyster Mushroom and White Bean Ceviche was served as a beautiful, fresh variation on the Central/South American seafood dish (below). Served with tostones - twice fried, smashed plantation chips (above). This was refreshing and a delighful collective of flavours and textures, including the beans and oyster mushrooms contrasting with the tomato. Zingy, zesty, fresh and playful, dancing inside the glass with the joy of Central America...
As a lover of croquettes I enjoyed the Tuna and Green Pea Croquettas, Spanish bechamel folded with tuna and green pea served with caper aoli and a wedge of lemon. A spectacular success, with the right amount of golden crunch on outside and super creamy inside. Plump generous tasty croquettas with a winning aoli. My desire is to return and get me more of these...
Tamales were a fun small plate; a single serve of the traditional Mexican favourite with Masa filled with mushroom, nopales and grilled corn then steamed in a corn husk. Served with fresh lime and hot sauce. I was like a kid in a candy store opening up my tamale to discover the delectable filling inside. What I also loved was the hot sauce, which packed some punch.
Then it was time to check out Shannon at work on the paella, revealed as Shannon's super secret, at least 4th generation, family recipe with all the necessities flavourful vegetable saffron stock, green peas and veg prawns, sausage and scallops.
A paella to behold...
Service at Smith and Daughters was some of the best around with staff on board and keen to impress combing the joint for a missing fork or someone without a drink... Granted they hadn't opened yet, but the honesty and passion was compelling.
Pazole was a presentation of the Columbian broth-rich hominy soup, topped with tender, sauteed oyster mushrooms, crispy tortilla strips, pickled purple cabbage and fresh lime. The dish had a rustic charm, with deep flavours and tang of the broth combined with interesting accompaniments of mushrooms, cabbage and tortilla strips bringing balance. I enjoyed the colourful presentation, indeed the dark smokey colour of the broth.
Chiles Rellenos also displayed culinary finesse, with these Mexican chargrilled peppers stuffed with cream cheese and chorizo, then battered and fried until golden. Topped with tomatillo sauce and served with red rice. This dish wasn't heavy and was to me like comfort food with this great idea to batter and deep fry peppers. After the rustic broth of the previous dish I was beginning to realise vegan food could be so much more than a pumpkin pizza...
Then the paella was served, infused with flavour and rice cooked perfectly. Shannon had the soffrito and the soccarat going on... Mock meat was used but this was a triumph of flavours, with my serving not dominated by the mock meat, but tomato and vegetable flavours.
Dessert also impressed with Tarta de Chocolate Azteca and these Quince filled Spanish Donuts. Had to imbibe a few of these.
In the end I was full and satiated, and I hadn't eaten any meat. The menu was creative and had fine dining touches.
Smith and Daughters are focussing on lunch and dinner (will start with dinner), but also on brunch for weekends, with seriously good coffee (without full cream milk) and cold pressed juices.
Smith and Daughters launch was a genuinely exciting event and we predict big things for this restaurant. Shannon and Mo are inspirational women doing great things in Brunswick, and the impact of this will be felt far and wide.