What’s a hungry non-meat eater (vegan or vegetarian) to do while traveling? Sometimes the most you can hope for at least one meat-free item on a menu or if you’re truly fortuitous, you’ll find a vegetarian or vegan restaurant where you’ll have unlimited options. Searching out options beforehand on sites like HappyCow can help alleviate any anxiety you might have about whether or not you’ll find food that you can both eat and that you’ll like. If you’re lucky, you’ll find a variety of options from fine dining to fast food and that means you won’t have to settle for a side salad as a meal. Hooray!
During our time in Sydney, I stumbled across Pie Face. This Sydney based savory pie chain was founded in 2003, but has now expanded beyond Australia. There are now several locations in NYC, one currently in New Zealand with 62 projected to be built in the next 10 years. It was only last Fall that Wayne Homschek, one of the co-founders of the 81-unit chain in Australia, signed a licensing agreement to open at least 100 restaurants in five countries over the next seven years. Steve Wynn, founder, Chairman, and CEO of Wynn Resorts, purchased 43% of shares of Pie Face USA worth about $15 million in 2012 to support the roll out of stores in the United States. Seems like Pie Face might become a household name if it’s up to Homschek and Wynn and I like the sound of that.
While I hadn’t set out to eat a meal at Pie Face, when I passed this sign at their shop at 113-115 Oxford Street (at the corner of Oxford and Crown), I had to peek in and see what the pie fuss was all about. Don’t expect a big restaurant with lots of seating and table service. Instead, you’ll find counter service with several tables and you guessed it… pies!
Pie Face is a super simple concept: While they sell primarily pies, they also serve sausage rolls, sandwiches, wraps, quiche, pastries (croissants, danishes), cakes (someone say Lamington?), and cookies. Step up to the counter, place your order, and if you wanted anything heated, the staff will do that and present you with your food in no time flat.
Speaking of flat, why not order a coffee while you’re here? With a variety of blends available from decaf to super strong, you can order it black or maybe try a flat white. “What’s that?” you ask. A flat white is a coffee popular in Australia and New Zealand that is prepared by pouring micro foam (steamed milk with small, fine bubbles and a glossy or velvety consistency) over a single or double shot of espresso. A flat white is similar to a cappuccino or latte, but smaller, which makes this beverage have a higher proportion of coffee to milk.
I was so happy to not only find smiling pie faces, but veggie ones at that! I chose the Tandoori Vegetable Pie. While not vegan, it was a tasty veggie pie that meat lovers enjoy as well. Think of this little veggie pie as part Hot Pocket (convenience-wise) and part flaky crust goodness like your grandmother might make (if she knew how to make pies). When I finished, I had a smile pasted across my face similar to the little pies along with some flaky crumbs, too, I’m sure.
In addition to their vegetarian pies, they also serve meat pies like Thai Chicken Curry, Chicken & Mushroom, or Chunky Steak. How about an old favorite that’s come back to life? Steak injected with cheese! From their web site: “We make pies with funny little faces on them. They’re damn tasty. Fresh ingredients, Aussie beef and a flaky crust. We even asked a fancy pastry chef to help with that crust. We are Aussie, but he’s French. They are mad about that buttery flavour. Now for the real issue. Sauce or not?”
They’re fresh baked cookies even have faces although I thought that the chocolate cookies were looking a little grumpy on this particular day because he saw everyone eating pies. Try a sweet pie like a Mini Pear & Ricotta, Mini Apple, Mini Raspberry & White Chocolate, or Mini Mango.
My quick meal at Pie Face was exactly what I needed as I traversed the streets of Sydney trying to absorb as much as I could in a short period of time. Tasty enough in a small package to satisfy a craving without making me feel like a glutton. Thanks Pie Face!
Shop 4, 113-115 Oxford St.
(corner of Oxford St. & Crown St.)
Darlinghurst NSW 2010
T/F: 02 9360 0133
Hours: 4.00 am – 6.00 am
Web site: www.pieface.com.au
For another meal while in Sydney, we went in search of the elusive Iku Wholefood located in the Amp Plaza in Sydney at 50 Bridge Street. We walked by this building multiple times before I finally asked the security guard for assistance. Turns out there is a retail plaza located in the bottom of the building with dining, retail, and even an IGA Supermarket. Since we had searched out Iku for our meal, that is where we ended up eating despite the abundant choices that were available. Apparently, in Japanese the word “iku” means vital and lively; to live; to go.”
We arrived in the afternoon of our first day in Sydney and it was close to 3 pm, but still a bustling time in the food court area, probably because of all the corporate employees from the building. Some of the items you can order off the Iku Wholefood menu include curries, lasagnas, macro burgers, wraps, pies, and salads. From their web site:
At Iku Wholefood we have an undeniable passion for our food. Nutritious food is essential for good health and vitality. Food that is natural, wholesome, authentic, freshly prepared and tasty. We use organic and other high quality ingredients whenever possible. All our foods are dairy free, additive free, preservative free, animal free and free from genetic modification. We believe in food with purpose, our simple philosophy… Eat Well Be Well.
Normally I post pics of the food I eat or try, but didn’t get a chance to here. Yes, I did try the food, but it was after a somewhat trying experience. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, everything that we picked out to eat at Iku Wholefood seemed to be unavailable. We noticed the two member staff was cleaning up as if to close although they said they were still open. They did have a few items available off their snack menu like the millet ball and polenta slice, but I have to say that when you’re hungry — you kind of want more than a millet ball. I would definitely go back and try them again when their full menu was available or I might try another location.
Shop 15 Food Crt
50 Bridge St
Ph 9232 4223
Web Site: www.ikuwholefood.com
Have you tried a vegetarian or vegan restaurant while traveling abroad?