Girls and Boys has set itself a tough challenge, producing all vegan gelato, plus the additional restriction of avoiding refined sugar. An offshoot of Vegie Bar – the veteran Fitzroy vegetarian restaurant right next door – Girls & Boys offers plant-based ice creams, desserts and smoothies.
How do they do it? The sorbet flavours are easy – being water-based and dairy free, they naturally follow vegan principles. “Dairy” flavours replace milk and cream with soy and coconut. And the sweetness? Organic brown rice syrup (plus the natural sugars in the fruit and other flavourings).
This caters to quite a range of dietary restrictions. But Benny checked up the glycaemic index (GI) of brown rice syrup and was surprised to find that it is higher than white sugar – so probably not ideal for diabetics.
Is it as good as real Italian gelato? Well, mixed results. Some of the flavours were quite good, but were let down by a firm, slightly grainy texture. A couple of the flavours tasted a bit odd – this could have been the soy milk (I’m not a fan). However if Girls & Boys gives you the chance to indulge in a treat normally denied, I’m all for it. Nonetheless, the best gelaterie in Melbourne have excellent vegan options, but are likely to contain refined sugar.
The gelato menu at Girls & Boys is quite small, and we sampled many of the flavours: blood orange and yuzu; coconut bananarama; chocolate; cherry, kaffir lime and rhubarb; choc mint. Don’t look just in the gelato cabinet – there may be a couple of extra flavours in the churners at the other end of the counter. Our friendly server said that the menu doesn’t change much, as customers are happy with the flavours.
Benny’s final choice was chocolate hazelnut. It had a creamy texture and good flavour, but the texture was more like ice-cream than fine gelati.
For me, tropical sorbet. Fresh and fruity, but the texture was a bit icy and it softened very quickly.
The gelato comes in cups, cones, tubs to take away, or gelato sandwiches – your choice of gelato inside a house-made donut or croissant (the latter is not house-made). Girls and Boys also does soft serve ice cream (channelling Mr Whippy, but probably a lot healthier), smoothies, “nourish bowls” (mixtures of fruits and grains), cold pressed juices and iced lattes (matcha, turmeric and chai).
There are a few seats inside, but the big attraction is the huge interactive LED screen. Go nuts in front of it – the screen responds to your movement!
While not up to the standard of Melbourne’s best gelaterie, the gelato at Girls & Boys is surprisingly good, given that it is all-vegan and avoids refined sugars. Definitely an option to consider if you are struggling with dietary restrictions.
Girls & Boys
382a Brunswick Street
Fitzroy Vic 3065
T: (03) 9417 6766