It’s been a little over 2 weeks since my meat ban and it’s been a struggle but it’s given Chris and I the opportunity to dabble in some very rewarding vegetarian cooking.
Besides furthering our culinary skills (or lack thereof), we’ve also ventured out beyond our comfortable apartment to chow down on some scrumptious vegan eats.
We’ve driven past Nourishing Quarter on Cleveland Street a dozen times, but without an actual sign it’s a bit hard to pick out from all the similar looking shop fronts in the area.
Chris found it on the internet while browsing for other vegetarian/vegan friendly restaurants after we gave Yullis (a vegetarian restaurant and bar) a go. When he linked me to their website, the first thing I noticed was the eccentricity of their brand.
Upon arrival, we were led through the front dining space to the Conservatory Section at the back where vintage bits and bobs captivated our attention for a little while before we shifted our attention to examine menu, hungrily.
The ambience was beautiful with tunes from the swing era filling the dimly lit room and the lovely antiquities the owners have been collecting over the years. Not to mention how the aroma of food would waft through those antiquated doors and bathe us with a homely warmth that reminded me of my grandmother’s cooking.
The mismatched decor gave the room a quirky vibe, from the velveteen tea light holders, to the upholstered, wooden dining chairs and the upcycled wine bottle vases.
First up was the Ancient Pearls (2 pouches @$18.50 AUD) with royal red quinoa grains, a mix of mushrooms, black and white fungus, marinated bean curd and a good dose of crunchy seasonal veges – cupped in perfectly cut pieces of lettuce.
The zesty flavours of the sesame oil, lime and chilli dressings complemented the lettuce cup filling really well. This was easily my favourite entrée of the two that we ordered.
Our second entrée, the Sacred Khot (7 pieces @ $17.50 AUD) was interesting because instead of using rice flour on its own, they also add quinoa or amaranth flour for additional nutrition. The mung bean mix gave this treat a slight sweetness to these largely savoury tarts.
Hiding beneath the sauce dish with a dash of chilli was Nourishing Quarter’s own ‘nước chấm’ sauce. Their nước chấm tasted a bit sweet/floral, which is different to the Vietnamese dipping sauces I’m used to, most likely because they’ve omitted the fish sauce for this vegan composition.
Chris enjoyed this one as the mung bean mix gave the tartlets a slight creamy texture amongst the pleasant crunch the tart crust and the lettuce brings.
Last but most definitely not least, was the Pho-ever More Nourished Soup with buckwheat and purple kumura noodles ($18.50 AUD).
Being a phở addict and recently cut out meat, I’ve endeavoured (across the internet) to find a restaurant that does a good vegetarian rendition but to no avail. Most vegetarian Vietnamese noodle soups reviewed were said to leave much to be desired, which was disheartening to say the least.
So when this came out, I couldn’t believe it was vegan! I was impressed at how close the broth tasted and smelled like the non-vegetarian ones I’ve tasted in the past. I could feel my body warming up while I ate this! The spiced up broth truly mades for a great winter’s night’s meal.
One of the ladies there explained to us that they opted for buckwheat noodles in place of traditional rice noodles because buckwheat noodles are more nutritious, adding more to the nourishing factor.
Nourishing Quarter is situated at 315 Cleveland Street, Redfern, 2016 and are open Tuesdays – Saturdays.
I recommend booking in advance to avoid disappointment as they only do two sittings a night, with the first one at 6:00-7:55PM, and the second from 8:15 onwards.
No words can describe how delighted I am to know that the vegan gods have bestowed this little gem upon us, so close to home too!
So if you’re ever in the area and you love a homely meal, give them a bell (or a text) to make your reservation!