CARRIE STEELE discovers an unusual vegan eaterie with a novel twist: charging by weight of food on the plate!
I’m so glad I paid a visit to this super little café on my recent visit to Sydney. The signboard outside says it’s a ‘revolutionary buffet and salad bar’, which was intriguing. On entering, it did take a couple of minutes to figure out how it all worked at the counter, and it certainly is a revolutionary kind of idea – charging by the weight for a plate of food ($12.90 per 500gm). However, the concept seems to work just fine and we certainly had a tasty and filling lunch, in surroundings that were far more pleasant and attractive than you might be imagining.
Admittedly, a ‘pay by weight’ theme does sound a little downmarket, but this is a smart little café measures up well in décor and ambience against all the other smart little cafés in Sydney which don’t cater for vegans.
Alongside the buffet of hot dishes sit bowls of green leaves and a few other salad items and a big crockpot of brown rice. You take one of the large metal platters and help yourself to whatever you fancy. On the day we visited, it was pretty much an Indian-inspired selection of mild curry-type dishes, but that’s fine, it was all delicious. I understand the menu changes daily at the whim of the chef, which is a lovely thought as each day you’d be in for a surprise when you visited.
I couldn’t help but notice that the food bore an uncanny resemblance to the type of dishes I turn out myself at home, but I say that as a good thing, and what was even better was I hadn’t had to cook any of it. My favourite dish that day had spinach and chickpeas and cubes of tofu that had soaked up the flavours and tasted just like paneer, which used to be one of my favourite elements in Indian dishes when I was vegetarian.
Alongside our platters of hearty goodness, hubby and I each chose a different latte, mine chai and his turmeric, both really good. There is also a cabinet of mouth-watering sweet treats, like the darling little chocolate cakey-thing which I only just managed to photograph; the front half of it that is, as hubby had already attacked it from his side before I had time to get my phone out to snap! Full credit to him though for searching this place out and taking me there, lest we should once again find ourselves hungry but with nowhere to have lunch and having to resort to a packet of peanuts, as so often happens if the research isn’t done beforehand.
We arrived well after the lunch rush (around 1:30pm) and it was quiet, with only about half a dozen other diners. However, judging from the well depleted brown rice, it was clear that they’d been pretty busy earlier. It was a cold day so we sat inside, but there’s an outdoor patio which would be nice for sitting outside in warmer weather. Our bill for lunch for the two of us added up to Au$36.15. OM Vegan café uses no refined sugar, no dairy, no GMOs, no additives, no chemicals, and doesn’t fry. And it’s 100% vegan. And here’s another little sweetener: written at the bottom of the signboard out front, it reads, “Nourish your soul with food made with love”. As we sauntered away with full tummies, it felt like we’d done just that. CARRIE STEELE
* OM Vegan Café, corner of Brisbane & Goulburn Street, Surry Hills, Sydney.