Yavanna is a woman, a goddess. She is the giver of fruit and queen of the earth. It makes sense, then, that she’s the namesake of Paddington’s newest plant-based eatery and bar.

Yavanna also happens to be a character from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Silmarillion, and head chef John Baker is an avid Tolkien reader. The name was his idea. It’s reflected in the eatery’s vibrant, green-thumbed femininity – a coral-coloured wall features a white line drawing of a woman, her face morphing into a leaf. Greenery cascades from the ceiling towards the booths on one side of the venue.

Baker co-owns Yavanna with Kate Borgo and Cale Drouin. After working together for a vegan distribution company, the trio started discussing opening their own venue in November last year. It’s all come together in an inviting, indulgent eatery.

“We want to break the stereotype of boring vegan food,” Baker says. “We want to have steaks and cheesy food.”

The meat alternatives are high quality, using a seitan base so customers can still enjoy dishes such as chargrilled steak with creamy potato or flame-grilled chicken with chips and slaw. The beef burgers feature former Urbane head chef Alejandro Cancino’s “veef” patty.

Coffee comes from Moonshine Coffee in Byron. Later in the day a bar menu features natural wines, a Tolkien-referencing cocktail menu, and beers and ciders by local names such as Green Beacon, Newstead Brewing and Balter.

Above all else, Yavanna is intended to be welcoming to everyone. “We’re all so passionate about what we want it to be, and wanting to make it an inclusive space,” Borgo says. “That’s what’s most important to us – making it somewhere comfortable to come for non-vegans, and doing everything you can’t usually get vegan, vegan.”

This article first appeared on Broadsheet on June 4. Menu items may have changed since publication.

9/2 Latrobe Terrace, Paddington
(07) 3554 0267

Wed to Fri 11.30am–3pm, 6pm–9.30pm
Sat & Sun 8am–11am, 11.30–3pm, 6–9.30pm