Every year we go away in early January, and every year it’s freezing cold. This year, we thought we’d be very clever and organise a short break at the end of January instead. After all, everyone knows the hottest weather happens just as the kids go back to school! So we’ve just come back from 3 days in Lorne and…it was just as cold as our early January holidays!
Our dog has been sick, I’ve got a jaw problem and can’t close my teeth together to chew, and B has had a really bad, snotty cold. Our lovely kids agreed to look after the dog at home so we could have a short break down in Lorne.
In case you don’t know, Lorne is about 2 hours drive from Melbourne, on the west coast of Victoria. It’s on the glorious Great Ocean Road, a windy road that was cut into the cliffs by returned soldiers after World War I. The road provides spectacular views…slightly hair-raising in some stretches, for those of us who are a bit on the anxious side!
We booked a Heritage Hotel Room at Mantra (the old, historic Erskine House on the foreshore). It’s a very long story, but we didn’t end up in a Heritage Hotel Room, we ended up in a rickety, modern room with no privacy and terrible plumbing.
If I had to pick a highlight of our accommodation, it would have to be the shower. It fluctuated between icy cold and scalding hot, requiring (according to their directions) me to jump out mid-shower, turn on the tap over the sink till the water temperature settled, then quickly jump back in to try to wash before it got scaldingly hot and had to be turned down again, at which point it went icy cold and I had to jump out again…you get the picture. It happened 5 times before I managed to get the shampoo out of my hair and gave up on that shower. On the last day I didn’t even bother to have a shower until I got home.
What we ate
Enough moaning. I wasn’t expecting anything great in the way of vegan food down there. I’d eaten lots of vegetarian food down that way, but searching online it didn’t look like there was much vegan food other than chips. But I didn’t mind – I just wanted to get away for a few days.
I wanted to try the Swingbridge Cafe and Boathouse, but had a bit of trouble finding it. By the time we found it, we’d already eaten somewhere else and they were closed the next day. Anyway, we’ll save that till next time, because it’s very cute.
River Tea House
After our initial search for Swingbridge, we stumbled across River Tea House. They had a Chickpea Patty and Salad on the menu. When I asked the friendly staff whether the patty would be vegan they said it was, and one of the staff was actually vegan too and made sure I didn’t get the fetta cheese on top of my salad.
The patty was JUST soft enough that I was able to eat it with my sore jaw. The salad was really tasty, but I had a bit of trouble chewing it, so B was very, very happy to help me out with some of that when I finally gave up.
Pre-dinner drinks and snacks
I wasn’t sure what we would find for dinner, so we made our own substantial pre-dinner snack, accompanied by a bottle of Yalumba Pinot Grigio. I’d pretty much filled up on nuts, hummous, crackers and olives by the time we headed out to find a proper meal.
I didn’t feel like another vegie burger, chips, or avocado smash (I can’t believe I’m actually getting sick of Avocado Smash!). Then I peered up a side street and was struck by a vision up the hill – Mexican Republic.
I’m a sucker for fairy lights, and I love Mexican food, so the decision was made! They were almost closing, but we got in just in time to get a black bean quesadilla (with no cheese) and a Margarita. Very good it was too. Quite crisp, (for some reason I found it easier to chew after all that wine!) and hot and spicy.
[Now, I did get a photo of the quesadilla, but it actually ended up being a video – must have been that wine and the Margarita! I think you’re better off checking their Urban Spoon page for meal images.]
Leaving out the all-you-can-eat breakfast, which was just as you’d expect, our next meal was chips on the beach for lunch the following day. I was desperate for an anti-inflammatory tablet, and as they have to be taken with food, I settled on chips on the beach with a soy hot chocolate. Not very healthy or imaginative, but it got rid of the pain.
As you can imagine, I was more than ready for a decent dinner before we went to see Into The Woods at the lovely old Lorne Theatre. A few doors up from the cinema is a noodle restaurant called Chopstix.
I’d imagined the average noodle joint dish, but this was more of the standard of Miss Chu – all hot and saucy with lots of unidentifiable (by me, anyway) flavours. Maybe I was a bit delirious because of painkillers and mushy food, but it was well worth the vegies I had to swallow without chewing. I sat at the window bar and 3 groups of people walked past and said things like, “Woah, that looks delicious!”
During Into The Woods (which I was shocked to find tedious and annoying, even though I love musicals and it had lots of my favourite actors) I sucked on a few squares of Green and Black’s 70% dark chocolate. It made the time go faster.
On Wednesday, after another breakfast of all-I-could-eat baked beans and soggy Weetbix, we headed off to Apollo Bay. It’s one of my favourite places in Victoria, but I haven’t been there in the 2 years since I’ve been vegan. I Googled to find out whether there were any good vegan places, only to find Veganopoulous’s post from 2013. Yikes! At that time there was pretty much nothing.
By the time we got there, I needed more painkillers – and so, more food. I scurried up and down the shopping strip desperately scanning menus, hoping to find something soft and vegan that wasn’t a smoothie or chips. Finally, I found TWO vegan soups at Sandy Feet. I remembered this place from previous visits to Apollo Bay when I was vegetarian. It was somewhere we went back to time and time again, and we weren’t ever disappointed. Today they had a CHOICE of pumpkin (with no dairy!) or lentil and vegetable! Hallelujah!
I chose the pumpkin soup. It was gingery and spicy and warming and easy to swallow and…perfect. I dipped the bread in it to make it soft, and swallowed my tablets with a soy hot chocolate.
Then it was back to the car for a pain-free drive home via the inland road through the Otways. We hardly ever go that way, but gee it’s a pretty drive. Not quite as breathtaking as the Great Ocean Road, but at least the drive isn’t punctuated with “Watch the bloody road!” quite as often.
Now we’re back to the real world. But B’s cold is gone, I can close my jaw…sometimes, and haven’t taken painkillers for almost 8 hours now, and we’re off for another visit to the vet right now. Must be time for that summer weather to start!
All the places: links and a map
River Tea House – where I ate the chickpea patty and salad
Mantra Lorne – home of the memorable plumbing
Mexican Republic – crispy quesadillas, cocktails AND fairy lights
Chopstix – really good noodles with views of the beach
Sandy Feet Cafe Apollo Bay – an old favourite with great soup
Swingbridge Cafe and Boathouse – somewhere to try next time.