by Kym Staton, 20th Jan. 2016
The number of 100% vegan restaurants in Sydney has grown in the last twelve months, with at least three new vegan eateries opening their doors, as well as two restaurants making the historic and un-presedented move of replacing their animal-laden menu with a vegan one!
The newest welcome addition to the Sydney vegan dining scene is of the ultra healthy raw vegan variety, with the much anticipated launch of the intriguingly titled ‘The Plant Gallery’ at Sydney’s beachside health-haven Bondi.
Three years ago The Plant Gallery co-owner David Ortega bought a one-way ticket to Bolivia on the search for new horizons and experiencing a different culture. Little did he know that this would bring about a dramatic new lifestyle direction, as it was here that he met raw-foodist and renowned chef Juan Carlos Miranda Ormena who introduce him to the enormous health benefits of a raw-food vegan diet as well as many of the amazing flavours of Peru. The pair formed a terrific friendship and came up with the goal of opening up a raw-food restaurant back in Australia.
David and Juan Carlos were toying with the idea of calling their restaurant ‘The Plant Gallery’ – as homage to the plant-powered menu – when by chance a venue previously used as an art gallery became vacant. It seemed like a match made in heaven to make use of the existing lighting and picture hanging systems and feature artworks on the walls of their restaurant.
Walking in you instantly notice the back wall is adorned with indoor plants which create a lovely organic natural backdrop. A tour of the large garden (out back) revealed the already active compost bins – big points for reduced food waste! Great to also hear plans for installing a garden and growing some of their own produce!
The furniture is all made of up-cyled timber which lends warmth and ambience. The centre of the restaurant has a huge communal table which encourages interaction from guests.
Admiring all of these innovations, I almost forgot about the food, but was gobsmacked to see the delights on offer with their sophisticated, artistic dishes described on the menu. Then i noticed another innovation with their convenient ‘TPG experience’, in the bottom right hand corner, where newcomers or those who like a surprise can have the ‘chef’s choice of one entree, one main and one salad’ for two people – such a great idea!
Much of the menu is peruvian inspired – where David and Juan Carlos have taken traditional dishes of Peru and ‘veganised’ as well as raw-ified them to great success!
I started my first The Plant Gallery experience with the mushroom ceviche – which was a fresh and zesty salad of marinated mushrooms, onion and corn in a refreshing lime dressing. The flavours and textures were very enjoyable.
For main course I had the spaghetti humancaina – a rich and very flavoursome journey of zucchini spaghetti in a rich cashew and yellow chilli sauce. The huge cashew parmesan chunks were very tasty.
I finished with a very decadent and gorgeously presented dessert of deconstructed inca berry cheesecake with cashew cheese and orange nut crumble which looked like three sailboats floating on the pacific, and had dreamy flavours to match!
The Plant Gallery’s aim is to put to bed the myth ‘that healthy food can’t taste good’. I can see that the team at this exciting new restaurant have both the passion and skill to do just that with their brilliant new venue and the terrific collaboration of dynamic duo David and Juan Carlos!
Sydney Vegan Club wish you the best of luck with your new endeavour and look forward to having a big tasting-party event at you venue very soon so that we can enjoy the flavours and ambience and culinary joys of you creations as a group.