Around Sydney in Seven Bites
After my discharge from hospital in late 2013, my dad promised me a trip to Sydney when I had become well enough to handle the flight and being away from home. He had lived there years ago with my mum and older brother, and I was very nearly born there (I guess they made it back to New Zealand just in time)!
Two years later, we finally got around to making that trip, and I couldn't be more grateful for the time we spent over there. I had the joy of discovering all of the plant-based and healthy-eating centric cafes in the area with my old man (who also loves whole foods - he even makes Recovering Raw almond milk every day!) The food scene there is insane, and Bondi certainly takes the cake in terms of variety.
Bondi Wholefoods, North Bondi
Bondi Wholefoods was the first cafe I visited in Sydney. We ordered the cacao berry pancakes (two spelt and quinoa pancakes with berries, raw cashew cream, berry chia jam, cacao nibs and pure organic maple syrup, $18.90 AUD). They were pretty damn good and ticked the box of being dairy free and made from whole grains, but sadly they weren't fit for anyone following a gluten-free diet or vegans. We also had the smashed avocado on organic sourdough with tomato & basil salsa and fresh lime ($12.90 AUD). Good basic food that you can't really go wrong with, we decided to also order the "salted caramel health smoothie" ($13.90) which, to be honest, was a total rip off - here in New Zealand you can get amazing smoothies for the equivalent price of $8.10 AUD!
Bondi Wholefoods is a TINY space with barely any room to move at the tables or throughout the aisles of the grocery section, which is perhaps my main criticism. It's not the kind of place you would sit for a long, relaxing Sunday brunch (but I found other places that are great for that!)
Orchard Street, North Bondi
Of all of the cafes I was lucky enough to visit in Sydney, the staff at Orchard Street were my favourite. They have a beautiful space located on a street corner in Bondi, offering a plethora of fresh juices and smoothies, MediHerb naturopathic tonics (which are amazing), fresh takeaway meals and a small selection of books. I tried the "Vedic Milk" (activated almonds, brazil nuts, cardamom, turmeric, bee pollen, coconut nectar, gubinge) which really went down a treat one afternoon after a stroll through the Royal Botanical Gardens.
Pressed Juices, Bondi Beach and George Street
I visited two of the Pressed Juices locations - Bondi Beach and George Street. The staff members of both were lovely and willing to chat with me for a while about the healthy food scene in Sydney. The stores are small, but make great use of space with minimal seating (they're all about grab and go here).
First up I tried the espresso almond mylk (filtered water, almonds, espresso, dates, vanilla bean, sea salt) which had a nice flavour to it but an awful texture - I was hoping for smooth and velvety but instead was met with a mouthful of grit, thanks to the vanilla bean. It wasn't particularly pleasant. The strawberry mylk was much the same (strawberry, almond mylk, cashew cream vanilla bean) and was a bit of a let down. Either they don't make these drinks with a very strong blender or they just don't blend them for long enough to get 'em silky smooth.
I tried their spiced pear smoothie (almond mylk, pear, blackberry, dates, vanilla bean, flaxseed, cinnamon, star anise) which I really didn't enjoy at all - it had an odd flavour and again, an awful, gritty texture. We also tried the black lemonade (alkaline water, lemon, activated coconut charcoal, cayenne) which predictably tasted like sh*t, but nobody drinks charcoal for a good time. I was quite keen to try their banana salted caramel smoothie but felt that at almost 500 calories per bottle, it was probably a bit excessive - as natural and nutrient dense as the ingredients may be, knocking back 500 calories in a smoothie intended as a snack? Not sure about that one.
I drank their "Zest 4" juice (coconut, cucumber, lemon, pineapple) on the way to the airport - not the tastiest, but on the bright side, I was hydrated for the flight home. What really stole the show for me was the antiox. 3 juice (blood orange, acai, passionfruit lucuma). Honestly takes the cake as the best juice I have ever had! 10/10 for that one, that's for sure!
We did also pop by the George Street store for a quick lunch one day - luckily they had one salad left in stock! I tried the Mexican salad - not bad, but probably not nutritionally sound as a meal (I was ravenous an hour later). It was essentially some dry greens with a "mince" on top presumably made of walnuts and sundried tomatoes, with a cashew cheese on the side. It definitely needed a lot more to make a meal. Pressed Juices, I feel, has some room for improvement, but at least go for the antiox. 3 juice.
Sadhana is located in a pretty unsuspecting part of town, unlike Bondi, where you kind of expect to find food catering to the health-conscious. On that note, close by to Sadhana is a little organic co-operative called Alfalfa House - I bought a bar of "frothy toffee" flavoured raw chocolate by The Chocolate Yogi from there and it is the best raw chocolate. Ever.
That aside, Sadhana itself is a bustling little cafe with a steady flow of customers and a long list of people waiting for CocoWhip. We went all out and tried the Not-ella Crepes (sprouted flax and banana crepes served with house-made not-ella spread, fresh banana, berry compote, coconut yogurt, berry creme and chocolate fudge sauce), Avo & Mushroom Benedict (avocado, marinated mushrooms, coconut "bacon," hollandaise sauce and onion bread), the Stir No Fry (seasonal vegetables and kelp noodles in a sesame ginger marinade) followed up with CocoWhip for dessert. I wasn't a huge fan of the Stir No Fry but the benedict was pretty good and the crepes were delicious... although the CocoWhip was the star of the show. It's hard to believe it's just made from young coconut meat and coconut water, yet tastes like a Macca's soft serve (perhaps better). Why don't we have this, New Zealand?
Pana Chocoate, Alexandria
I tried a raw "wagon wheel" at Sahana, which I didn't particularly like. Pana Chocolate on the other hand does them INCREDIBLY - possibly my favourite raw treat ever. The presentation of the chocolates, cakes and other raw treats were really just beautiful. Along with the wagon wheel, we had a raw lamington, some sort of caramel cake, and a pana pop. None of it let me down, I will say that much!
The Dandylion, Bondi
The Dandylion refers to itself as a vegetarian & vegan fine dining restaurant. The entrees we ordered (caramelised tempeh, shiitake mushroom & kale dumplings with chilli & miso spicy sauce + warm winter salad with cumin roasted vegetables and vegan cheese) were definitely fine dining standard - the flavours were just incredible and I cannot recommend these two dishes enough. The main courses however were incredibly lacking in terms of both presentation and finesse - I ordered a veggie burger with a quinoa, brown rice, sundried tomato & olive patty served with sweet potato chips, while my companion opted for cajun seitan fajitas with spicy avo, pineapple salsa, sour cream and crispy lettuce with (VERY obviously store bought) spinach wraps.
I enjoyed the flavour of the (crumbly) patty, but the "gluten free" option I had decided to go for just came slammed between two slices of very average GF bread. The sweet potato chips were to die for though, I will give them that!
Porch and Parlour, Bondi
The lovely girls at Orchard Street recommended we get to Porch and Parlour for breaky before leaving Sydney, so we made sure to on our last day. I treated myself to a latte made with fresh almond milk - coffee, for me, is a treat to be enjoyed sparingly. I had the green pea pancake with a mint & avocado salad, the most beautiful relish and a poached egg fresh from a local farm (and happy chickens). It was absolutely to die for. I can't wait until we meet again, Sydney.
What are your favourite healthy eateries in Sydney? Let me know and I'll have to check them out next time!