Sweet Bones is the much loved vegan cafe that is now in its new home on the corner of Elouera Street and Lonsdale Street (opposite 86). The reason for this move is because the fantastic Lonsdale Street Traders complex is being torn down to make way for some new fancy schmancy apartments. I was a bit concerned when I heard the news, where was this very much loved vegan cafe going to go?! Luckily, it looks like they’ve found a spot just a stones throw away, and it’s closer to work too! Proof that sometimes cruel capitalism is truly the best way forward. (I kid).
Sweet Bones new location is a lot bigger than their original location, which honestly doesn’t mean much because their old location was absolutely tiny. There’s some indoor seating as well as some outdoor seating but Sweet Bones is popular so finding a seat on the weekends is pretty much impossible. Hopefully Sweet Bones will add some more outdoor seating soon, there’s plenty of room for it, and loads of demand.
I’m really excited to finally write something about Sweet Bones, I’ve only been to Sweet Bones once in the past and I absolutely loved it. However, at the time there was some pretty awkward and unphotogenic things happening at our table so I didn’t get the chance to take any photos, so that meal unfortunately I’ll have to explain with my terrible words.
The first time I went to Sweet Bones, I had my first vegan burrito. I was pretty sceptical. How can something with no meat be tasty? Then you take out the eggs or milk too?! It was a brunch catch up, so I had to at least give it a shot even if it didn’t sound fantastic. Well, when the burrito came out, I took a bite and was absolutely amazed. It was so tasty and there was plenty of creaminess to it. (Since then, I have had a couple of vegan cheeses and to this day, I don’t know how they do it). As much as I liked my first experience, I never really had the chance to go back. Until now!
Last time I was at Sweet Bones I only had their savouries, this time I decided to try out their sweets as well. Before trying out the vegan cupcakes at Sweet Bones, I didn’t really know how I felt about vegan baked goods. How do you make cupcakes and cakes without egg, butter and milk?! How do you get all your dry ingredients to stick and combine with your wet ingredients, what are your wet ingredients?! Clearly, as it’s becoming a bit of a theme with Sweet Bones, there’s a lot of moments where they say they make something, then I question how it’s possible to do such a thing without the use of dairy or meat, and then they go on and do it amazingly. I really need to stop being shocked at this.
I do remember a work mate once told me that the key to vegan baked goodies was bananas, which I guess kind of makes sense in hindsight. Anyways, I won’t talk about the baked goodies too much here, I’ll leave that for later on but let me just say, these cupcakes were absolutely fantastic! Almost better than any standard cupcake or cake that I’ve had before, and if given a blind test, I honestly wouldn’t have been able to tell. Sweet Bones is open pretty early in the morning, and as mentioned before, is on the way to work so looks like I’ll be eating a lot more muffins and cupcakes for breakfast from now on.
That was honestly the most rambling I think I’ve ever done. Hopefully it’s obvious that I quite liked my experience here. Time for some food talk.
First up, the Peg tacos ($16) wheat tortillas with scrambled tofu, salsa, kale, onion, capsicum fajita mix and grated carrot topped with cilantro sour cream and corn salsa served with a side of brown rice, beans and shredded cos lettuce. The Peg tacos were a part of Sweet Bone’s ‘South of the Border’ menu which includes all their Mexican treats like these awesome tacos as well as burritos, nachos and what not.
I was definitely struggling with this menu because everything just sounded so good, and ended up with these tacos because well, the pegs totally sold it for me. What an awesome and smart idea, we’ve all had this problem in the past. You start biting into your taco and suddenly everything is falling out left, right and centre. Well, the pegs actually do a pretty good job of stopping that. Plus, they look so adorable!
As for the tacos, they were pretty tasty (not as good as Sweet Bone’s Bacon cheese burger but more about that further down). There was definitely nothing wrong with these tacos, they were good for what they were but they weren’t wow like the other items we had at Sweet Bones. In hindsight it’s sort of odd that I’ve decided to start with these. I guess the cool thing for me about Sweet Bone is the fact that I’m eating vegan food but it’s just as delicious if not more tasty than standard foods that have diary, eggs, meats and what not.
These tacos were tasty but in the end of the day, they tasted like a really yummy vegan or veggie taco, and considering that Sweet Bones generally is really good about hiding the fact that you’re eating vegan food at all, this was a bit of a let down. The filling for the tacos included a slightly curried scrambled tofu, which had nice texture but not a lot of flavour to it and just tasted like tofu in the end of the day. On top of the tofu there was plenty of vegetables including corn, diced tomato, freshly steamed kale, diced cooked and seasoned onions and carrots with some sour cream to top it all off. The veggies worked really well together, bringing extra flavour to the tofu and bulking out the tacos, making this quite a filling dish.
On the side of the tacos, there was also a serving of brown rice, corn chips and a bean paste. This may not sound special or anything, originally I thought it was something Sweet Bones just added to bulk up the dish, giving it more elements, textures and colours but that bean paste was the absolute winner of this whole thing! It was so tasty, really creamy and went perfectly with the crunchy and crispy bits of corn chips. Plus, the addition of these sides made this a huge meal! I thought the tacos alone were a pretty decent meal but add these extras and you definitely won’t be leaving Sweet Bones hungry. Strange comment but meat lovers sometimes freak out when they don’t get meat and think they won’t feel full afterwards.
Okay, so I may have been a little negative about these tacos. I really don’t mean to be, there were pretty damn tasty, really healthy, light and refreshing for Spring/Summer. I guess I just had such a great time with the burger (which I had first but have decided to write about second for some reason) that the taco really stood no chance but do not disregard these tacos because of me. I can see plenty of people loving them!
On to one of Sweet Bone’s burgers, the Bacon cheeze burger ($15) marinated tofu patty with house made smokey coconut bacon, cheddar like cheeze, lettuce, tomato and onion on a turkish roll with ketchup served with a side salad and pickles. Unfortunately it’s not a great picture but this burger was absolutely amazing (as I’ve clearly gone on and on about previously). I find with veggie and vegan burgers in general I can tell when I’m eating them, they’re normally pretty tasty but not as good as a big ol hunk o’ cow nestled between two slices of bread. Normally, I find them really dense and bland because most places use a chick pea patty, and it’s just a flavourless grease ball.
Here at Sweet Bones, you wouldn’t even know that it didn’t have meat. There was just so much flavour to it. The patty for this burger was made out of a firm tofu. On top of the patty there was plenty of fresh mixed cos lettuce along with some tomato slices, a very generous amount of tomato sauce and pickles which added some tanginess. All of these were fine and nice but what won me over was the smokey coconut bacon and cheddar cheeze! Who knew dried shredded coconut could taste so similar to bacon!? When I think coconut I normally think sweets but for this burger, Sweet Bones flavoured and charred up the coconut so that they were smokey and quite savoury. It’s also surprising that dried shredded coconut has a really similar texture to strips of bacon. On top of these smokey bacon strips there was this amazing cheese sauce, it was super creamy with like a chick pea or hommus like earthiness to it. Together these two elements and the other parts made the burger truly amazing. I would happily pick this burger over a meat or fish one any day!
Finally, some pancakes because its breakfast! Sweet bones short stack ($15), a pile of homemade blueberry pancakes with organic maple syrup, fresh fruits, CoYo and maple soaked cinnamon goji berries. Initially, when I went to Sweet Bones, I thought that they’d have a hell of a time getting the meat substitutes right, and would have an easy time with the pancakes! That was until I realised that dairy is fairly important for good pancakes, and considering how well these turned out just really makes me marvel at what those guys do back there in that kitchen.
These pancakes weren’t fluffy and light like you would expect from a standard short stack, they were actually really dense and filling like you’d expect from the lack of dairy, but it actually comes together really well. There were also blueberries buried throughout the pancakes, which were lovely little texture bombs that contained a fantastic sweetness every now and then. The pancakes were covered in maple syrup, fresh strawberries, apples, some sort of vegan cream and spiced goji berries. These added some great colour to the dish and some lovely fruity flavours as well. There was creaminess from the vegan cream which balanced well with the sweetness of the maple syrup and to finish it all off, these delicious spiced goji berries which just made it feel heart warming and homely, something about cinnamon does that to me, maybe its the association I have with cinnamon and Christmas, who knows. There was so much going on in this dish that I had a habit of slicing off a bit of apple, a bit of berry, a bit of cream and pancake and just all having it in one big bite. It was delicious. You should’ve been there. Chewing open mouth city.
Finally, the baked goodies from Sweet Bones! First up the Maple and walnut cupcake ($5). These just sit in their baked goodies cabinet and can be grabbed anytime. I find it a fantastic way to start my day, grab one before work and then munch on it until lunch. I was initially a little hesitant about the cupcakes and baked goodies at Sweet Bones, I’ve never had them before and a friend once said they didn’t like it because they weren’t fluffy and light like cupcakes should be. On the day, I wasn’t planning to get one but it looked so nice and I really wanted to try it for myself without listening blindly to rhetoric.
To my surprise, I actually ended up falling in love with the cupcakes at Sweet Bones (I got another couple below!). This cupcake had really nice strong flavour to it, nutty and sweet from the maple syrup while the topping added a lot of creaminess. As for the texture, I had no issues with it. I found it really fluffy and it seemed to have plenty of airiness throughout. I did find it dense but probably not so much to dent my enjoyment, for $5 I probably do want it to fill me up a little bit. Plus I can have just one cupcake and be completely satisfied. Very glad I tried these out for myself, these are now a pretty regular morning treat for me.
Next up, the Choc maple cupcake ($5). This wasn’t part of my initial trip to Sweet Bones, the next day I dropped by Sweet Bones just to pick up another cupcake, yup that’s how much I loved it. Generally, I don’t really like chocolate cakes and baked treaties, I find them a little too rich and overwhelming but I figured I would give it a go. Like the maple and walnut cupcake from above, this cupcake was top notch. The cupcake had quite a bit of chocolate to it but there were definitely traces and elements of maple syrup here and there. Plus I think the icing might have been maple syrup flavoured too. Texture wise, like the above cupcake, I liked it a lot. It was pretty fluffy and had airiness to it. It’s definitely no chiffon cake but it had a solid cupcake texture and I’m really not sure where these rumours of vegan cakes not being light and fluffy are coming from.
Thought I should put in a slight disclaimer. I’m not 100% sure if Sweet Bones is completely vegan, I always find it really confusing. I’ve seen cafes call themselves vegan but still have menu items that are vegetarian. I don’t know if Sweet Bones did this, so if you’re a strict vegan, definitely double check with the menu or staff at Sweet Bones before ordering. (Don’t want anyone eating something they don’t want to!). I added this because I remember when I ordered my iced chai I was asked whether I wanted soy or cows milk, so I mean they must have some non vegan produce around. Secondly, these cupcakes were just so nice and fluffy and it definitely makes you wonder, how does Sweet Bones get these cupcakes so fluffy and airy without eggs and butter?!
So before I managed to post this review, I ended up going back for a couple more cupcakes. I figured I might as well talk about them here. First up, the Red velvet cupcake ($5). Another really tasty cupcake from Sweet Bones. It wasn’t as red as most red velvet cupcakes, it was more of a brown with a tinge of red to it. This might disappoint some but its actually probably much better for all of us health wise. Traditionally the redness from a red velvet cupcake comes from a chemical reaction between the cocoa powder and the vinegar. Back in the day, it wasn’t really that super vibrant red that we see in store brought red velvet cupcakes now, it was probably much closer to brown in colour. Most stores get that really vibrant red colour from adding a lot of artificial red food colouring, a few of the more health focused stores might use beetroot concentrate but even that gives you a more brown to purple colour instead.
The cupcake may have not looked like a red velvet cupcake but it sure did taste like one! A strange one but one nevertheless. The cupcake had quite a strong chocolate flavour to it with hints of vanilla here and there. Personally, I prefer my red velvet cupcakes with a strong vanilla flavour to them, to ensure that they don’t just taste like chocolate cupcakes but that’s purely preference. I still enjoyed the flavours of this cupcake greatly. For the frosting, it wasn’t your usual cream cheese frosting, I guess maybe these cupcakes are vegan! (I’m not sure if vegan cream cheese exists) but this red velvet cupcake was frosted with a delicious vanilla butter cream frosting (I assume they used margarine or something?). It didn’t taste as good as silky smooth cream cheese but it still worked really well and they made it super buttery to replicate the creaminess of cream cheese. It’s definitely not a bad replacement if you can’t have animal products. Definitely will be getting this cupcake again in the future.
Our second takeaway cupcake was the Chocolate blueberry cupcake ($5). After having this, I feel safe to say, I’m 100% in love with the cupcakes from Sweet Bones, 4/4 perfectly tasty and fluffy cupcakes! It looks like the cupcakes from Sweet Bones do vary from day to day, this flavour as well as the red velvet cupcake from above wasn’t available on the initial day that we were there plus I didn’t notice the choc maple one this time round. Plus! I noticed that they change the way they decorate their cupcakes, which isn’t a bad thing, makes it more exciting and drool worthy but I guess you shouldn’t rely on the way they look to know what you’re getting!
When I went in for takeaway, I was only planning to get one, and as you can see, I kind of ended up with this one as well. It’s just so pretty with all the contrasting colours. The taste also lived up to expectations! Chocolate on the bottom with a creamy and mild blueberry frosting on top. The cupcake itself was made from dark chocolate with a blueberry jam in the centre. The dark chocolate cupcake wasn’t overly sweet, it just had a really deep and dark chocolate flavour to it, like that 70% chocolate stuff from the shops. The blueberry jam was also quite sour and had a lot of bite to it. This worked really well with the sweetness of the the buttercream frosting. Together, a super delicious and well balanced cupcake.
We also decided to grabbed something a little less sweet, the Carrot and maple muffin ($4). This was nice, not as sweet as the cupcakes, it was probably just the icing that made the cupcakes different to be honest. These were a lot bigger than the cupcakes. They were also denser, heavier and more filling (all pretty good things). We ended up eating half of this and taking the rest home, I reckon if we tried tackling this whole thing, we probably wouldn’t have finished our actual dishes!
Flavourwise, this was a really savoury muffin, not much sweetness to it at all, with shredded carrot all the way through it. It had a tiny bit of sweet with undertones of maple here and there. The carrot flavour was no where near as strong as in a traditional carrot cake, which I didn’t mind. The mildness of the carrot really made me appreciate it more, instead of just scoffing it down because there was so much flavour in it, I took smaller bites and let the flavours really come out.
Our drinks for the day, the Iced chai with maple ($5). This was an interesting drink. There was a mild chai flavour, definitely not as strong as any chai latte you’d get elsewhere. While the maple flavour came from a drizzling of maple syrup throughout. The drink wasn’t overly flavourful or sweet, in a way this somewhat help, as it made it feel quite refreshing. I can see this working quite well in the middle of summer when it’s like 35C and you want something that’s still milky but does bog you down.
For us, in this particular situation, we didn’t actually love it. It kind of reminded me of soy milk, with a little bit of twinges here and there but nothing strong. Don’t get me wrong, I love soy milk. I just don’t love $5 for 200ml of soy milk. It was just a little too boring and bland for myself, but I’m sure some people will appreciate and enjoy it. Luckily for us, our next drink solved that problem. It went in the exact opposite direction.
One of Sweet Bone’s smoothies, The Elvis ($8), peanut butter, chocolate, banana, CoYo coconut yogurt, and soymilk. This was one flavoursome and solid drink. As you take a sip, immediately the peanut flavour hits you. Its extremely flavoursome, creamy and nutty. There are hints of chocolate and banana as well but it only really came out as an aftertaste.
It kind of tasted like a dessert in drink form, imagine waffles with banana drizzled with chocolate sauce and a sprinkling of peanuts. Plus with the consistency of this drink, you probably could pass it off as a dessert. This was one thick smoothie! I struggled to slurp it up the straw, in hindsight that probably was a good thing. It ensured that I still had some smoothie for when my food came out. I’m normally not a big fan of treats or drinks with chocolate in it but this one was pretty enjoyable.
Here’s a shot of Sweet Bone’s baked goods cabinet. There are muffins, banana breads and more sat on top while the cupcakes, coconut balls, brownies and cheesecake sat inside. There’s always a massive line to order at Sweet Bones, so I always end up staring at this cabinet for ages, by time I get to the counter, there’s a fairly high chance that I’m going to impulse buy something. How nefarious of them. On the same topic, I don’t think Sweet Bone has table service.
Also, I really like the Mexican Day of the Dead skulls lying around everywhere. Cool theme they’ve got going on there. I’m pretty certain they’ve always had it, I think I saw it in their old store in the Lonsdale Street Traders but I’m not 100% sure. Nevertheless, they’re super cute and really add to the whole ‘sweet bones’ thing. Totally trivia and pointless but I felt like mentioning it, mainly because I really liked it.
Our brunch at Sweet Bones was really awesome. I’m really liking their new cafe. To be honest, after having this I do really regret not coming here more often. Its quite close to work and home and serves amazing vegan food. Well at least I know now. I’ll definitely be making more trips to Sweet Bones from here on in. Time to connect more with my currently non existent vegan side!