The wine bar is a feature of Rubicon Restaurant at Griffith. Photo: Richard Briggs
Eating out as a vegetarian can be a dismal experience.
Sure, every restaurant will have a token vego entree and a main, but rarely do you find much flair or any excitement in these dishes put together by chefs schooled in the protein-at-the-centre-of-the-plate mode of putting together a dish.
If you can't build it around a piece of meat, where do you start? Well, Owen Kenyon at Rubicon has the answers.
A menu full of answers (albeit a menu of four dishes). This is one of the best things about Rubicon. This and the wine list.
A highlight of the vegetarian menu is the Sichuan eggplant with nori-wrapped silken tofu ($18.90 entree, $29.90 main).
This is a textural gem of a dish, the braised eggplant all slippery as eggplant is, the tofu sharing this slip-through-the-fingers texture, but wrapped in nori, battered and fried to a clean crispness. Or zucchini flowers with feta and macadamia filling, and again delicately battered and fried, salty and crisp.
Rubicon is a place you might plump for the vego meal even if you're a dedicated meat-eater.
But there is a full meat menu ($33.90) that covers every base - free-range duck; chicken stuffed with chestnuts; pork with prunes; veal shank with garlic; beef in bacon; and blue-eye cod with eggplant puree.
And it's probably meat you'll need if you explore the depths of this wine list, probably the most comprehensive in town, especially in the reds of France and Italy.
If you're a pinot noir fan, you'll find the best of Australia and New Zealand here, as well as a dozen from Burgundy, the French home of this variety.
For dessert, well, who says nay to a dark chocolate pudding with chocolate ganache and pistachio praline ice cream? Not us.
Rubicon has a look-after-you feel. White tableware, decent glassware, although last time we visited, we weren't thrilled by the utilitarian addition at the back, and next time would probably request one of the few tables out the front. Service is good and knowledgeable.
A place for a special occasion (certainly, if your date is vegetarian) or a long business lunch. That is, if you still do such a thing.