CARRIE STEELE is knocked sideways by the exceptional grub on offer at a Sydney vegan restaurant.
I’m always excited to try out a new vegan-friendly restaurant, but it’s not often that such an establishment delivers the whole dining experience, namely: great food, great décor and great service. In the heart of the Sydney CBD, nestled under ancient Moreton Bay fig trees in a peaceful park-like setting, Bodhi Restaurant ticks all those boxes. And best of all, it’s totally vegan.
The restaurant adheres to the chief elements of Buddhist cooking, using no animal products and sourcing locally grown organic produce as much as possible. Tucked away down a set of stairs beside St Mary’s Cathedral, behind the Aquatic Centre in Cook and Philip Park, it seems unlikely you’d ever stumble upon this place if you didn’t know where to look. Once you do come upon it, it’s like a little oasis, beckoning you into the lovely sheltered courtyard under what truly are magnificent trees. Despite what feels like an almost secret location, the restaurant clearly has an established clientele, many of whom have been rolling up to eat since 1988. No mean feat!
Arriving on a Tuesday night (bookings advised!) the restaurant looked delightful with the fairy lights twinkling under the trees, and even the outdoor tables were well occupied, with heaters going to warm up the cool late August evening. The décor inside is smart and modern, and I can imagine on a balmy summer evening it would look amazing with all the doors open to the courtyard. The menu is large enough to offer a fine selection of choices, but not so large as to leave you wondering what to choose.
Hubby and I shared three dishes: shitake mushroom dumplings (three mouth-watering morsels) and two main dishes of stir fried chili bean eggplant, zucchini, tofu, and pumpkin puree, and spicy sichuan style portobello mushroom, tofu, chili, cashew nuts, and baby bok choy. Both dishes were extremely tasty and generously sized, and you’ll have a choice of brown or white rice, as always the perfect accompaniment to such wonderful flavourful dishes.
We couldn’t resist dessert and shared the peanut butter, cacao, almond fudge slice, with lavender praline dust – decadent, with just enough sweetness so as not to overpower the richness of the other ingredients. There is an excellent wine list, with a good selection of vegan and/or organic wines, and a mind-blowing cocktail menu. Worthy of mention is the Perlage Terre Viva Sangiovese, a gorgeous drop from the Marche region in Italy (vegan and organic). At $9 a glass, it turned out to be an excellent choice.
Bodhi was pumping at 7pm on Tuesday, with a number of people who had not booked tables electing to hunker down on the comfy outdoor seating and wait their turn. Even so, the service was sharp: friendly and welcoming, and fast, which was a bonus no doubt for waiting diners without bookings! Our meal, including two drinks, cost $95. Not cheap, but not overly expensive for the quality on offer. Bodhi also does a Vegan Yum Cha lunch, which sounds like a fun experience.
2 – 4 College Street, Sydney 2000
Lower Mezzanine Level of Cook and Philip Park