The Green Lion roars again

The Green Lion 'sdisplay cabinet is hard to resist. Photo: Elizabeth Usher.

Elizabeth Usher reviews the new Marrickville incarnation of this beloved vegan establishment.

The Green Lion made a massive splash back in September 2016 when it opened as the first ever vegan pub bistro in Sydney, utilising the entire upstairs section of The Red Lion, a historic Rozelle pub that first operated in 1828. The menu was extensive, the servings were generous, and there was a huge vibe about this exciting new venue on the local vegan scene.

According to the website, “The concept is traditional Aussie comfort food done vegan.” This clearly struck a chord, as the food’s popularity led to the development of their frozen ‘Take Me Home I’m Vegan’ range just two years later. It seemed like nothing could stop the rise of The Green Lion vegan empire!

The Green Lion logo. Image:The Green Lion/Facebook.

But then in March 2020, there was news that no one saw coming. Surprisingly, it wasn’t Covid-19 that caused The Green Lion’s doors to shut; rather, it was the new owners of The Red Lion who wanted to take over the space and run their own kitchen. Although it felt like there was a collective mourning amongst Sydney’s vegans, in hindsight, the timing was probably a lucky stroke, given what happened to so many hospitality venues during the next few months.

During winter, the frozen range continued to expand, with new stockists coming on board, increased gluten-free options on offer, and a direct-to-consumer online store also starting up. At times, the owners also offered free ready meals and food to people struggling to buy groceries during the recession.

Then, as spring progressed, there was the thrilling news that The Green Lion would be roaring ‘in person’ once again – this time from a small shopfront at 14 Chalder Street in the industrial section of Marrickville, just a couple of blocks from the landmark Factory Theatre.

The new venture launched on 18 November, opening seven days a week for eat-in, take-away, home delivery and the full retail range of ‘Take Me Home I’m Vegan’. The menu includes plenty of drink options, such as milkshakes, thickshakes, soft drinks, kombucha, etc. – and as an added bonus for those who like an alcoholic drink with their meals out, it’s even BYO!

The Green Lion’s potato salad. Photo: Elizabeth Usher.

I went along in mid-December so I could take a meal to share with my friend of over 20 years, Dr Siobhan O’Sullivan, founder of the Knowing Animals podcast, who was recovering from recent surgery and chemo.

I have to admit to ordering more than would normally be a two-person meal, for three main reasons – of course, I wanted to try as much of the menu as possible, but in addition to that I was thinking ahead to having an easy meal of left-overs the next day, and I also wasn’t sure what Siobhan would feel like eating due to her situation, so I thought it best to provide a big selection for her to choose from.

However, we were both just choosing water for liquids, so I can’t report on any of the drinks options. But I do hope to get back there to test-run a thickshake soon!

Here’s what I ordered:
Mac & cheese balls with aioli $7.50
Potato mashy balls with aioli $8.50 (although a slight typo on the menu shows these as being ‘with ailoi’!)
Loaded fries with poutine $12.95
‘Chicken’ caesar salad $18.95
Potato Salad $12.95 (Large)
Cheese burger $14.95
Biscoff cheesecake $13.95

I did really want to order the cheeseburger pizza, which was one of my absolute favourites from the original Green Lion menu, and also had thought I’d try out a pasta dish, but the pizza & pasta options are only available for dinner, not lunch.

In terms of enjoyment – we were both delighted with the entire spread. Siobhan in particular is a poutine aficionado and she praised it highly as having the right balance between the amount of gravy and cheese, as well as noting that the chips were cooked very nicely.

We also enjoyed the burger – and it even withstood being cut it in half without collapsing!

Siobhan raved about the dressing on the ‘chicken’ caesar salad, although the ‘chicken’ strips were the only part of the meal that didn’t impress her. But we were then able to divvy up the dish so that she had more of the rest of the salad and I took all the remaining strips.

The potato salad was also a hit, with the potato cooked to the perfect consistency and a great vegan ‘bacon’ adding a lovely flavour to the creamy dressing.

Part of my feast! Photo: Elizabeth Usher.

The two entrees of the mac & cheese balls and potato mashy balls were tasty and a fun finger food option, especially paired with the delicious aioli.

And then to finish everything off, the cheesecake certainly hit the spot for a creamy dessert with that amazing caramel-spice Biscoff flavour combo.

The Green Lion staff very generously added in a pack of the frozen chocolate pastizzis as a bonus due to the size of the order. (Ok, ok. ok … it’s not listed above, but there were in fact three of the Biscoff cheesecakes, as I also wanted to take one home for my partner as a treat!) These pastries looked scrumptious and easy to prepare, but I decided to leave them in Siobhan’s freezer for her to enjoy.

“I would order any item again without hesitation.”

– Elizabeth Usher

Basically, I would order any item again without hesitation. The biggest difficulty is going to be choosing between them all – especially in the evenings when the pizza and pasta dishes are also on offer.

Maybe I should start going to more gigs at the Factory Theatre just so I can have an excuse to plan a pre-show meal at The Green Lion?

Green Lion information:
14 Chalder Street, Marrickville
Current hours as of review:
Mon–Thurs 6pm–9pm
Fri 6pm–10pm
Sat 12 noon–10pm
Sun 12 noon–8:30pm
Phone (shop): 0424 115 466
Phone (office): 0416 844 700

Dr Siobhan O’Sullivan: (On a personal note – as mentioned, we have been friends for a long time, and I wrote the intro music for her Knowing Animals podcast.)