The Plant Gallery is a newly opened raw vegan restaurant in Bondi. Would a raw vegan dinner normally peak my interest? As a self-confessed burger nut, probably not. But The Plant Gallery is a little different from the rest.
**Sadly, this restaurant closed as of late July 2016. We hope we see it come back to life at some point in the future.**
The Plant Gallery is the brainchild of David Ortega and his head chef and culinary genius Chef Juan Carlos Miranda. Together they’re focused on changing people’s perception of the somewhat arcane discipline of raw vegan cuisine.
What we ate at The Plant Gallery is about the furthest cry from the ‘bird food’ preconception most people have of raw vegan food. Chef Juan Carlos uses a range of preparation methods to serve food that doesn’t really seem like you’re eating raw vegan food at all.
And just like the food, the restaurant itself is probably not what you’d expect in a raw vegan eatery.
Everything is beautifully styled with solid wood tables against the light, lofty walls. The bar at the far end of the restaurant has a slick cocktail lounge feel and above the bar the living wall nods to the ‘plant’ part of the restaurant’s name.
As for the ‘gallery’ part of The Plant Gallery, along the walls is a range of works by local painters that you can buy or simply enjoy from your dinner setting, which suggests no-expense-spared styling too.
But what about the food?
From the menu, which is full of intriguing and at times mysterious dishes, you’d be excused for not knowing quite what you’re in for – especially on your first visit.
Bewildering promises of Caesar salad, sweet onion pizza, vegetable curry and spaghetti Huancaina make you wonder if this place is indeed raw or vegan.
We certainly couldn’t choose so we threw ourselves at Chef Juan Carlos’ mercy and ordered the TPG Experience. This is whatever Chef decides to serve at the time. You get an entrée, main and salad to share – providing there are more than 2 of you.
The Plant Gallery
This raw vegan take on a Japanese sushi hand roll is set to be one of our favourites. The filling in the nori seaweed wrap is somewhere between the texture of sushi rice and cooked tuna and has elements of a California roll.
In fact it’s cauliflower rice, avocado and mixed vegetables, and it’s delicious. The sesame sauce it comes with is so good too. I could just eat that on its own.
Arroz Chaufa – ‘Peruvian fried rice’
For the two of us there’s a big pile of this nutty, rice-like dish, made from cauliflower, parsnip and sesame. The sweet tamari flavour works hard to bring this dish together.
I liked the texture of this dish – it was certainly juicier than a conventional fried rice dish, and we thought the clever plating and knifework on the green beans was a nice touch. However, this dish wasn’t our favourite of the three.
Between the nori rolls and this salad it’s hard to choose a favourite. The complex flavours of the dish work so well together and the crunch of the fresh veggies and the caramelised smoked raw almonds give such a unique texture.
The dish has goji and Inca berries, pepitas, mixed cabbage, cherry tomatoes, miso dressing and the creamiest avocado ever.
The salad also comes with corn chip sided pieces of seed bread made in the restaurant’s culinary dehydrators, but I preferred using them to scoop up the main dish of Peruvian fried rice.
We also ordered desserts – because we’re pigs.
The Lucuma mousse is surprisingly dense though not quite as creamy as a true mousse. It is as decadent as it looks though, and the special chocolate sauce on top and the choc crumble within add an interesting dimension to this dessert.
We also had the Suspiro a la Limeña – ‘The Sigh of a Peruvian Woman’. It’s a date caramel, which has a similar consistency to zabaglione, and an amazingly light Chantilly cream on top, which is almost like a foam.
There are plenty of drinks options at The Plant Gallery and BYO too. At the time of writing they were still awaiting their license to sell and serve alcohol but a selection of organic wine will be up for grabs soon.
Alternatively you can order kombucha, which genuinely terrifies me, or cold brewed coffee, juices and herbal teas.
There’s also a tempting line-up of mocktails too. Mrs R tried the Black Citrus, which is fruity and elegant. Its colour comes from the activated charcoal ingredient.
I had the Summer Mint, which is reminiscent to a mojito, and appropriately delicious and thirst quenching.
But to the hard question:
Would we come back?
Yes, it’s a fascinating way to eat a delicious, adventurous, high-nutrient meal. The restaurant’s also got a great vibe and the service is excellent.
It’s not for everyone’s taste though – especially for the avid carnivores and unadventurous eaters among us. It’s also important to know that all the food comes out at once apart from desserts. That’s ok though as nothing’s going to get cold, is it?
It’s amazing how far vegan food has come. About 20 years ago, my mum went full vegan and I remember what a struggle it was for her. The food she ate certainly didn’t have the range or vibrancy that’s available today – and it definitely didn’t taste anything like what The Plant Gallery is serving.
The Plant Gallery raw vegan restaurant
Good for: obviously for vegans but also foodies interested in exploring a completely different cuisine.
Perfect for: interesting date night dinner or dinner party with friends – especially if there’s a range of dietary requirements in the group.
Open: Tuesday – Sunday. Check opening times on the website. Breakfast, lunch and takeaway also available.
95 Bondi Road
T: 8971 3674
We were lucky enough to not only come to dinner on The Plant Gallery’s opening night, we were in fact their first ever customers! With that in mind, we weren’t expecting the high level of service we received.
What do you think of raw vegan food? Have you ever been to a raw vegan restaurant? Tell us in the comments!