Have you noticed how ‘plant-based menus’ have replaced ‘vegetarian menus’? It makes sense; while vegetarian smacks of mung beans and anaemic-looking hippies – plant-based speaks to concern for the planet’s limited resources and our own well-being. Vegetarian is a lifestyle but plant-based is just a menu option. Far from being fringe, many of Sydney’s finest diners now offer dedicated plant-based menus that are at least as exciting as their main offering … sometimes even more so. Here are five of my favourites.
Yellow Potts Point
Sydney’s finest vegetarian restaurant is so delicious that even die-hard carnivores don’t miss the meat. I didn’t think I liked pumpkin until I had Brent Savage’s version with persimmon, wattleseed and buffalo curd! There’s a vegan menu too and Nick Hildebrandt’s superb wine list.
Ormeggio at The Spit Mosman
The veggie offerings are every bit as fancy as the carnivorous ones at this waterside fine diner. From opening snacks like polenta tacos with porcini and chives, through orecchiette pasta with broccolini and vivid splashes of fermented chilli, to roasted baby jap eggplant with fermented black garlic and sage.
A lush herb & veggie garden right outside the kitchen door means even meat dishes here have a strong plant-based element with herby sauces and fresh salads. There’s also plenty to keep herbivores happy, like goat-curd-filled zucchini flowers, woodfired eggplant with chickpea miso, and garden pea risotto.
Quay Circular Quay
Peter Gilmore has collaborated with farmers for many years to bring unusual plants to his dining table, so it’s little surprise that his vegetarian menu is every bit as special as his regular one. I’m still dreaming about the crunchy koshihikari rice with jobs tears and silken tofu.
Tucked away in a sleepy northern suburb, Ashraf Saleh serves innovative Middle Eastern fare with traditional hospitality. His 9-course herbivore degustation changes regularly and includes the likes of fried cauliflower with garlic and chilli tahini sauce and radish, vegetable tagine, and the lightest egg-free pavlova.