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My Birthday Vegan Degustation Dinner at Urbane Restaurant

Wednesday was my birthday and I celebrated it with twelve of my friends at the high-end Urbane Restaurant in Brisbane. Head chef and vegan, Alejandro Cancino has created successful vegan degustation nights a couple of times each month.

He had organised a special menu for me with some of my favourite things with 50% of our menu new on the night. Here's what we had:


Carol, Genavive, Ange and I got to Urbane early and headed upstairs to the Laneway bar until the others arrived. I asked the bar tender to make me a vegan mocktail and said I like citrus but not orange; fruits, coconut, and anything sweet. He made me a great mocktail, which I found out later consists of grapefruit, lemon, cucumber, apple and ginger:


Everyone else then arrived for the vegan degustation consisting of 5 amuse bouche (single, bite-sized hors d’œuvres) plus 5 courses at a cost of AU$110 per person plus extra for drinks. Wikipedia says that Degustation is a culinary term meaning a careful, appreciative tasting of various foods and focusing on the gustatory system, the senses, high culinary art and good company.

We started off with Kale chips fried in sunflower and soy oil:


Then Vegetable Escabeche - like cold pickled vegetables:


Then Kipfler Jacket Potatoes with cashew cheese:


Then Cold Corn Soup - this tasted much better than it sounds and was pretty much everyone's favourite dish:


There was also bread (gluten free bread at the back for Mandy) and an eggplant spread:


We were then informed that the main dishes were coming up next. These dishes already mentioned came out pretty quickly and we had a lovely server who took great care of us all night.

Here's a photo of our group at the long table:


L-R: Justine, Ben, Dan, LC, Corinne (obscured), Genavive, Angela, Daniel, Carol, Billy, Mandy, Cameron, Cathy

The first of the main meals was Spring - consisting of two dishes. One of them was a rice flour cracker (Mandy had a gluten free one) with vegetables and edible flowers:


served with Heirloom Tomatoes in Tomato Water (the liquid was clear):


Next up was a Quinoa, Watercress and Leek dish with Miso (that's a very thin crouton on top) - this was also a great favourite:


Then Rice with cashew cheese and Pumpkin Foam:


Out next Tempeh (from Brisbane's own Totally Tempeh) with Carrot and onion:


And that was all of the savoury meals completed - we did lose count. We had a dessert to follow and a surprise in store after that. These main meals came out slower than the starters, so we had a bit of rest time in between.

The Coffee, Chocolate, Hazelnut - included these flavours in the cake and ice cream. There was also chocolate ganache.


There was a taste in the above that we all couldn't pick up on. A few of us thought pomegranate or dried apricot, others thought guava and there were many other great guesses. It ended up being freeze-dried passionfruit! This seemed to be the least favourite dish all night as Carol and I don't like coffee, and couple of others don't like chocolate!

After that, came the Native Fruit Infusion consisting of two dishes. The first was lychees filled with raspberry puree:


served with a tea of native indigenous fruits:


Alejandro came out to say hi to thunderous applause and we got a group photo together:


Back L-R: Cathy, Cameron, Mandy, Billy, Alejandro, LC, Daniel, Carol, Genavive, Ange (front L-R:) Justine, Ben, Dan, Corinne.

We were all given a wax-stamped envelope:


With the night's menu - we hadn't seen it before now:


The food was beautifully presented and amazing to eat. After almost 5 hours of slow eating we well and truly got our money's worth. For those who like to drink alcohol, there was also wines to match the food.

I was given some flowers from Dan plus some native flowers and Jabuticaba from Billy and Mandy - from Mandy's garden:


If you were playing at home to name how many of my favourite things were in this menu, here's the top 6: quinoa, kale, tempeh, cashew cream, chocolate, eggplant. How many more do you think?

It was such a lovely night with some of my favourite people, we ate wonderful food in a great restaurant. If you've never been to Urbane for their signature vegan degustation nights, make sure you do so in the new year.

Thanks to the lovely Alejandro and the wonderful staff at Urbane for a great birthday celebration!

Check out my interview with Alejandro from mid-2013:

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