Mr Ladybird and I walk through the door and exchange the kind of glances that couples share that are almost a language in their own right. Mr Ladybird's face says, "Are you sure you wanna eat here?". Mine says "We should give it a chance..." The reason for our hesitation is the d écor, it is quite dilapidated and I see paint peeling off the walls. I turn a blind eye and we take a seat and start to peruse the menu.
I feel my blood pressure rising.... The menu is a mish mash of dishes - italian, mexican, western - you name it, it's there, but it's all very confusing and I see no direction. I take a big breath and tell myself not to be too harsh and to be open-minded. The waitress also shows us the Specials board. We place our orders and not too long after our dishes arrive.
I have the Eggplant Schnitzel with irish mash, mushroom sauce and vegetables ($15). I am a bit taken back by the presentation..but I won't go into that. The schnitzel is crispy on the outside, and the eggplant tastes nice. The mushroom sauce adds some good flavour to the dish. As I am an Irish-born Australian, I got very excited about the irish mash when I ordered, but alas it is nothing like the scrumptious Colcannon I'm expecting. What is irish about this mash, I don't know... The vegetables are not good, they are great big chunks of boiled vegetables.. I am getting flashbacks of school camp dinners.
My Ladybird has the Mediterranean Platter - three falafels on bed of rocket, served with home-made hummus, cucumber, tomato, fetta, roast eggplant and olives ($14.50). I can't help but wonder what is mediterranean about the platter (?). It is all served with a generous basket of turkish bread.
The platter's felafels impress Mr Ladybird and he tells me the felafels are the best he's had in his life! At once I demand to try some and they are indeed good - crispy on the outside and very flavoursome. He does say, however "What's up with this slab of fetta?!"
I really wanted to enjoy Badde Manors, but I left feeling a little sad. As a vegetarian it is always disappointing to visit a vegetarian eatery and feel let down. I also feel that such establishments perpeuate the stereotype of vegetarian food being hippy-ish and only so-so. It doesn't have to be. Vegetarian cuisine can be as sophisticated and exquisite as 'non-veg' food. There is incredible variety out there - I have seen it in places like India, Singapore and the UK. If only Australian restaurants/cafes would get with the program... and it is my hope that Sydney (being such a great place to eat generally) takes on the challenge- sooner rather than later. I think Australian diners are open-minded and adventurous enough to give something new a go - and if the food is good enough, the fact that there is no meat on the plate should be incidental. Good food is good food.
Badde Manors seems to be a place that people like to go and quietly read or write over a coffee and piece of cake or a quick meal, but I don't think I would go here for a dinner as such. Nor would I bring a non-vegetarian here. But in the spirit of keeping optimistic and giving second chances, I would not rule out trying their breakfast one day. We'll see...
37 Glebe Point Rd
Glebe NSW 2037
Ph: (02) 9660 3797