After the excesses of the festive season, turn over a new (watercress) leaf at these deliciously healthy eateries.
Warren & Holt
What started as a passion project for a couple after a health scare has turned into one of Sydney’s best wholefood restaurants. Head chef Cameron Harris and nutritionist Steph Wearne have devised a menu that focuses on wild seafood, ethically farmed meat, seasonal produce and nutrient-dense dishes. In this bright industrial space with polished concrete floors and curvaceous white walls, enthusiastic staff deliver soul-cleansing nosh from an open kitchen. After a swig of the Digestion Kick-Starter – choose from kimchi, apple cider vinegar or bone broth – consider the Brekkie Bliss Bowl, a combination of white quinoa and buckwheat “tabouli”, beetroot, mushrooms and coconut labne. How about some lunch? The sticky pasture- raised pulled pork comes with coconut tortillas and pickled jalapeños. And with hot cakes, burgers and a varied kids’ menu, the restaurant has the health – and tastes – of your entire family in mind.
Shop 4, 415-421 Illawarra Road, Marrickville ; (02) 9559 8504
Porch and Parlour
After a quick dip at world-famous Bondi Beach, head here for something equally refreshing. Embracing all the goodness of casual dining, this cute all-rounder has peeled-back distressed walls, rough timber, pendant lighting, greenery and, during the day, loads of natural light. It’s a calm, comfortable atmosphere in which to kick back and enjoy food that’s not only healthy but also remembers to bring the big flavours. Chilli labne, eggs with roasted peppers and tomatoes makes for a cracking start to the day. Then for lunch, couscous and eggs join crisp-skin salmon; mushrooms and fetta combine with rice- our gnocchi; and beef carpaccio has a chilli and salt crust. With a small list of biodynamic, organic and natural wines, you’ll leave well fed, body and soul.
17-18/110 Ramsgate Avenue, North Bondi; (02) 9300 0111
Egg of The Universe
This wholefood café-cum-yoga studio has your physical wellbeing top of mind, along with your mental health. If doing the downward dog pose before a meal works for you, this is your place but you’re welcome to simply dine in the tranquil courtyard or quaint café space. The venue focuses on food that hasn’t been refined, processed or denatured, using age-old cooking techniques to bring out the best flavours in seasonal produce. Paleo bread comes with mullet roe taramasalata, while slow-cooked pasture-raised pork shoulder lands on sweet potato cakes. There are several soups to choose from – the chicken broth is a top pick – and they even have fermented juices and kombucha drinks covered, too. Here’s to good health!
711 Darling Street, Rozelle; (02) 9810 3146
“Spa cuisine.” It’s not a term you immediately equate with deliciousness, which probably explains why Como The Treasury has gone with “Como Shambhala” to denote healthier menu choices at the hotel’s in-house osteria. While the brunch and dinner menus feature lighter, fresher options – white fish crudo lifted with pistachio, mint and seasonal citrus, say, or a shaved vegetable salad paired with carrot pesto – breakfast is the philosophy’s go-time. Avocado on a brick of nut and seed “toast” ticks the boxes for both taste and nutrition. Ditto the featherweight eggwhite omelette. Fresh juices are made with the same attention to seasonality as the rest of the carte. All proof that you can have your kale and definitely eat it, too.
1 Cathedral Avenue, Perth; (08) 6168 7822
The Raw Kitchen
A handsomely stocked eco store. Housemade kombucha-based health elixirs. An on-site yoga studio. The Raw Kitchen is the definition of a one-stop wellness shop and it’s been attracting the tall, tanned and toned since pretty much day dot. It doesn’t hurt that this airy eatery occupies a former warehouse on one of Freo’s main drags or that its commitment to healthy living isn’t so militant that it eschews wines (although they are of the organic, biodynamic variety). The on-trend menu, meanwhile, is a deep dive into plant-based eating: strands of zucchini “spaghetti” are tossed with a walnut and tomato sauce in a nod to Italy’s most famous pasta; Margaret River lupin tempeh is the star of a yellow curry; and raw treats are available as either a single serve or whole cake.
181a High Street, Fremantle; (08) 9433 4647
Food doesn’t get much greener or, one can only assume, much healthier than Jack Greens’ stacked bowls of goodness. When your name is called, join the production line and watch your salad – bursting with robust flavours and topped with a tangy dressing – take shape. All dietary fancies are catered for but there’s no precious sermonising. The burrito bowl is rich with pulled pork, cos, cherry tomatoes and raw sweet corn, while the Waymouth Superbowl has roast chicken buried inside a pile of shredded kale, roast sweet potato, apple, goat’s cheese and roasted almonds. If you’re going healthy for dinner, you’ll need to pick it up by 5pm.
36 Waymouth Street, Adelaide; (08) 8410 7829
This is the sort of food you want when you want the right stuff. But it tastes so good, you’re not sure if it’s healthy after all (it is, of course). Peel St packs in layers of flavour and texture – along with bucketloads of fresh herbs and leaves – in dishes like chargrilled rare yellow n tuna with a zingy tabouli of pearl barley, cashew nuts, fetta, dill and lemon zest, plus a parsley, garlic oil and breadcrumb salata. Not healthy enough? Go for the chermoula roast eggplant with coriander, cumin and paprika sitting on a green herb tahini with garlic, yoghurt, mint, dill and parsley. There’s pomegranate and sumac in there somewhere as well. So much goodness, so few mealtimes.
9 Peel Street, Adelaide; (08) 8231 8887
Maple + Clove
This airy, black, white and grey space with swirls of caramel is perfect for convivial get-togethers around the long marble- topped tables. If the food here nourishes the body, a seat on the wide outdoor terrace overlooking a public garden takes care of the soul. Kick off with the Super C, a tasty blend of carrot, pineapple and orange juice with a twist of lime and ginger, or choose from the selection of smoothies made with dairy or nut milks. It’s not all kale and quinoa here, although those are definitely on the menu. Breakfast delights such as maple porridge and savoury spelt waffles (complete with smoked salmon and smashed avocado) are served all day. For lunch, tuck into delectable chicken tacos spiked with clumps of wild rice – alive with salty-sweet seasoning and just enough chilli heat. Matcha soy latte too healthy? There’s also a selection of stronger drops to fortify you.
Realm Park, 7 Burbury Close, Barton ; (02) 6162 0777
Image: Lean Timms
Mocan & Green Grout
A quirky mashup of student digs and Paris bistro, the décor here – like the food – moves from morning to evening with ease. Meals come with a freshness guarantee; herbs plucked from a nearby pavement garden bed are delivered from patch to plate in minutes, added to wholesome dishes such as baked eggs with great northern beans, dill, tomato, olives and chèvre. The smoked trout atop Israeli couscous and pomegranate seeds, with a perfectly poached egg and a delicate wisp of dill, is lunchtime bliss. The steak tartare, a dinner staple since Močan & Green Grout opened four years ago, is sophisticated simplicity with accompaniments of raw egg, croutons, and jalapeño and coriander sauce.
1/19 Marcus Clarke Street, New Acton ; (02) 6162 2909
Sure, you can get the Tree Hugger smoothie with kale, spinach, pineapple, coconut water, avocado and spirulina but this plant-based eatery in North Hobart doesn’t take the moral high ground. It’s licensed, too, so you can also enjoy a Gin Fizz with Fair juniper gin, fresh cucumber, tonic, rosemary and elderflower liqueur. Whatever you choose, rest assured no animals have been harmed. Amid neon lights, potted succulents and a soothing pastel palette, tuck into a Gym Junkie bowl with broccoli, kale, sweet potato, avocado, roasted chickpeas, brown rice and a creamy peanut sauce. Chef Michael Willis’s favourite dish is the kimchi fried rice with a veg egg (made with a pumpkin purée “yolk” and coconut “eggwhite”), tempura fried tofu, burnt pickled onion, bok choy and nori. “Buffalo wings” are made from cauliflower, not chicken, and served with Caesar sauce. Finish with a latte made with raw organic cacao, coconut milk and chilli, and veg out.
346 Elizabeth Street, North Hobart; (03) 6231 1593
Image: Graziano Di Martino
Take a shady streetside table and gaze up at Kunanyi (Mount Wellington) in the distance at this new South Hobart café, a close neighbour of long-time local favourite Ginger Brown. Pop in for a locally roasted Clique coffee – made with soy, cow’s, almond or coconut milk – or turmeric latte and treat yourself to a matcha and choc-chip cookie. If time permits, settle in for heartier meals such as The Burger, a cauliflower and chickpea pakora patty with pickled carrot, iceberg, mayo and kimchi ketchup, or the house beans served with guacamole, fried tortilla, fermented corn salsa and coriander. Still have room? Try the chia pudding with blueberry and maple jelly, peanut butter brittle, and vanilla and coconut yoghurt. The refreshing ginger kombucha is made by Hobart Beverage Co.
4 Cascade Road, South Hobart; (03) 6224 3194
Whether you’re eating clean, giving meat a miss or just wanting to nourish your body after the excesses of the silly season, this earthy little eatery has it all. From raw pad Thai and mushroom and spinach ravioli to tofu shish kebabs, samosas with tamarind sauce and a choice of pizzas, the eclectic menu is your round-the-world ticket to good health. And it’s a very tasty trip, indeed. The plant-based dishes contain biodynamic ingredients and are free from chemicals, additives and preservatives, plus they can all be served vegan. There’s no wine list but if you’ve had enough booze of late, smoothies, cold-pressed juices or a mango and mint lassi are just what the doctor ordered.
220 Melbourne Street, West End; (07) 3255 3388
Sit at a table outside and enjoy the river breeze or take a seat in Grown’s sleek, contemporary interior, where you can watch magic happen in the open kitchen. While the décor is a study in neutrals – save for subway tiles the colour of avocado skin – the food encompasses a vibrant palette of healthful hues. Pretty pea-green avocado and cucumber gazpacho is served with deep-red con t capsicum atop sesame cheese and toast. Yet more shades of green appear in the grilled baby cos with watercress hummus, dotted with sweet black garlic and crisp toasted buckwheat. The menu quotes Albert Einstein on his enthusiasm for a plant-based diet but even carnivores will be wooed by the seriously tasty, inventive vegan fare. And the vegan- friendly wine list is a no-brainer.
Shop 3, 21 Buchanan Street, West End; (07) 3036 7213
Image: Savannah van der Niet
Kings Wholefood Artisan
Don’t be fooled by the hard-to-find location towards the back of Charles Darwin University or the uni-café vibe. Kings couldn’t be further from Dullsville with inventive vego and vegan dishes like lip-smacking shepherd’s pie, laksa with zucchini noodles, palak tofu and butter jackfruit (yep, butter chicken minus the meat). Beware the baked potato chips that come with many dishes – it’s a rare diner who can stop at one. Open until 6pm most days, Kings also does takeaway and meal prep so you could pair your virtuous dinner with a less virtuous vino at home.
80 University Avenue, Durack; (08) 8931 1226
If ever there was a restaurant to convert nonbelievers to the plant-based religion, this is it. A backstreet factory converted into a modern restaurant celebrating timber and climbing greenery, it’s a temple to living lightly, healthily and deliciously. The all-vegetarian and partly vegan menu eschews the mock-meat route to pilot its own course with fried smoked tofu wrapped in a steamed bao with pickled cucumber and the spark of gochujang mayo; king oyster mushrooms with con t garlic and pine nut purée; and slow-roasted tomato tartare with taro chips. Add a drinks list where Ayurvedic elixirs and shots coexist with botanical- driven cocktails and you have the Platonic ideal of the vegetarian restaurant.
99 Rose Street, Fitzroy; (03) 9419 2022
Image: Georgia McDermott
Matcha Mylkbar’s vegan poached eggs have become an Instagram sensation. Looking uncannily like the real thing, each egg is a plant-based concoction of coconut, almond and sweet potato – a gimmick some might say but it sums up the café’s raison d’être of super-creative vegan dishes. Saddle up with those “eggs” on a potato rösti with barbecued jackfruit, fried kale and saffron hollandaise or get down but not so dirty with a seitan and kidney-bean burger with almond mozzarella, followed by matcha pancakes with chocolate sauce that will please everyone. Few can resist the flight of lattes in flavours such as turmeric, blue algae, charcoal and – oh yes – carrot cake.
72a Acland Street, St Kilda; (03) 9534 1111
Zen, thy name is Shoku Iku. This sparse-to- the-point-of-spartan café has a beguiling menu focused on raw superfoods. You’ll find Amazonian camu camu and reishi mushroom among the 17 ingredients in the Ultimate smoothie, plus elixir shots that claim to do everything from balance qi to beat a cold. Grab a seat in this simple shopfront for an all-day breakfast of raw buckwheat porridge or banana pancakes with housemade plant-based Nutella or go for a vibrant salad or kelp and vegetable noodles at lunch. Then hit your pleasure centres with the Coco Choco Bowl with tiger nut brownie, tahini and cacao syrup, and coconut chips – it’s surprisingly sugar-free but Shoku Iku does mean “food education” in Japanese, after all.
20 High Street, Northcote; 0403 569 019
Top image: Veg Bar/Graziano Di Martino