STEAK nights and schnitzels are classic pub grub, but plant-based meals?
Not so long ago, it was almost impossible to find vegan options on a pub menu.
Times have changed.
In October's food issue of Weekender, The Family Hotel's all-vegan restaurant, Pino's Diner, proved just how far things have come. Pino's Diner is 100 per cent plant-based, serving everything from burgers to buffalo wings (with cauliflower stepping in to replace chicken, in case you were wondering).
Vegan food is becoming a standard option on pub menus. You can even find vegan takeover nights on the weekly specials board at several pubs around Newcastle.
From chick'n (plant-based version of chicken) schnitzels to cauliflower steaks, pub grub is re-born.
The trend is catching on elsewhere around Newcastle's pub scene, with a handful celebrating the international Meatless Monday movement (which encourages people to eat a diet free of meat once a week) with vegan specials every Monday.
The Great Northern Hotel is among them.
Head chef Daryl Burns is so sure of his vegan spaghetti and meatballs that he would choose eating it over the meat version.
And, no, he's not vegan.
The Great Northern hosted a one-off vegan night in August as a partnership with plant-based meat producers The MEET Co which was so popular that they began hosting their all-vegan night once a month, as well as a weekly vegan Meatless Mondays takeover.
We put the first event on in August and the three times we did it afterwards, we were booked out. From there we have stemmed into it every Monday night.Josh Marshall at Great Northern
"We put the first event on in August and the three times we did it afterwards, we were booked out. From there we have stemmed into it every Monday night," Great Northern Hotel's events manager Joshua Marshall says.
There are four to five options on the specials board each week and three staples on the regular menu: vegan meatballs and pasta with Napoli sauce; veggie "beef" burger with beetroot pesto, pumpkin, salad and chips; and vegetarian pesto pizza with seasonal vegetables, mozzarella and pesto sauce and vegan meat.
Even the meat-eaters are giving it a go.
"We have found that with the vegan options on the regular menu and Monday nights, it's often people that actually eat meat and see the options on the menu and purchase it as an alternative," Marshall says.
"A lot people are a bit unsure when they first try it, like myself, but once they do they realise you can get some quite good flavours out of it."
Then there's the Kent Hotel in Hamilton.
The pub's bistro hosts vegan night every Monday, with three new plant-based specials on the board each week, along with their regular vegan offering.
The vegan menu is extensive, with starters, mains, salads, sides and burgers that cater for those after a juicy burger through to loaded fries or something more along the lines of a classic pub bistro offering.
"We are passionate about the fact that's still pub food," The Kent's general manager Stephen Hunt says.
"These are meals you want to have with a beer or glass of wine. It's about creating that pub offering."
Dishes include fried chick'n wings with ranch sauce; buttered corn ribs with chipotle mayo; crumbed chick'n schnitzel with chips and salad; miso mushroom noodle salad; or vegan Jamaican jerk chick'n burger with lettuce, tomato, lemon chilli mayo and mango chutney.
Behind the bar, a range of vegan beers and wine complement the menu.
"It all started because we had a new chef come on board who had been at one of our other hotels and is also vegan, and has a massive passion for vegan food," Hunt says.
"We started off on the specials board with a couple of vegan items to see how much traction it would get. If it went well, we would do more.
"Next thing we knew, we had an entire vegan menu going."
It's a similar story at Lambton Park Hotel.
The kitchen began with a vegetarian specials board once a week for Meatless Monday, but that has since evolved into a vegan night.
There are a handful of vegan options on the main menu and, every Monday night, the entire specials board is plant-based.
"There was a demand in the community for vegetarian and vegan dishes, so we wanted to give them a place to feel there was an offering specifically for them," head chef Michael Pacey says.
They rotate the menu each week, with everything from tasty salads and veggie stacks to burgers and pastas.
On the regular menu, try the vegan bowl with rocket, olives, flaked almonds, cannelloni beans, watercress, sun-dried tomatoes, pickled onions and tropical dressing; veggie stack with mixed veggies, cornbread, Napoletana sauce, roasted herb chat potatoes with fetta and basil pesto or sides such as oven-roasted field mushrooms (vegan desserts are also available).
The Delany in Cooks Hill has vegan options on the main menu (try a mushroom pastrami burger with vegan aioli, crispy onion, pickled beetroot and iceberg), and a weekly vegan specials night every Thursday, with all vegan meals available for $15.
For vegan Mexican food, head to The Lucky in Newcastle.
There's tortilla chips with guacamole, pico de Gallo and paprika; charred corn with lime and paprika; smoked eggplant tacos with roast capsicum and onion, guacamole and crispy chickpeas; vegan burrito bowl with green rice, pico de gallo, guacamole, coriander, charred corn, began cheese, greens, smoked eggplant and pesto; vegan nachos with beans, guacamole, vegan cheese, jalapeos and pico de Gallo; or vegan chilli fries with beans, vegan cheese and sriracha, all of which can be ordered mild, medium or hot.
A little further out of town, Nags Head Hotel in Adamstown is another pub offering an extensive vegan menu.
From vegan sour cream on the wedges with sweet chilli to the "not bacon" parma topper on the vegan schnitzel with fries and salad, and "notzarella" on the veggie pizza, their menu covers pub favourites and a few Mexican-inspired dishes.
Try the chickpea and coconut curry with sweet potato, eggplant, cauliflower, baby spinach, fresh chilli, coriander and jasmine rice; soft shell tacos with housemade falafels, vegan sour cream, grilled corn and jalapeno salsa; eggplant parmigiana with capsicum, olives, basil, Napoli sauce, notzarella, fries and salad; or tempeh chilli non carne nachos with smashed avocado, vegan sour cream and fresh tomato salsa.