After some recent shuffles, social-enterprise cafe and restaurant Gratia Folonomo has found the team that will run its kitchen. Chef Michelle Powell (recently back from Europe) is leading the sunny Gratia cafe. The restaurant next door – Folonomo, which opened last week – is under the guidance of chef Jo Ward (previously Vincent and Bloodwood). The two chefs, who have a history of working together in Europe, are pleased to be back in the kitchen together, collaborating on the two menus. The two spaces are connected by an internal courtyard.

“The concept is about bringing Australia’s cultures together,” says Powell. One hundred per cent of profits are donated to charity (you’re given rubber balls instead of a bill, and you can place them in different containers associated with a charity, so you can choose where your money goes); contractors donated time and materials to the project. The chefs agree that the combination of their skills will make for unique menus. Ward brings classic technique from her background in high-end dining, and Powell adds a deep knowledge of dishes designed to nourish to the partnership.

“We don’t use any white sugar, we keep it as gluten-free as possible, we go for very clean flavours and use a lot of whole grains and spice for punch,” says Ward, adding that all proteins are ethical and sustainable.

Dishes on the Gratia menu for breakfast and lunch include sardines with soft-boiled egg; an overflowing garden bowl of seaweeds, sauerkraut and grains; and brisket and black-rice flatbread. Folonomo offers ocean-trout tartare and chickpea pancake; hanger steak with faro and black fungus; and spanner-crab roll with zucchini flower and heirloom tomato for dinner.

There is also access to an upstairs gallery space. "The gallery displays a combination of works by recognised artists along with emerging artists, with exhibitions running monthly. Artists are selected with both their profile and commitment to social issues in mind." The gallery is coordinated by Jelle van den Berg (previously curator of the Drawing Room and University of Wollongong Art Gallery), with the current exhibition showing Neurotica by Debra Dawes and Lucis Puncta by John Di Stefano running until December 11, with a coming exhibition by Craig Judd of both old and new works.

Gratia & Folonomo
372 Bourke Street, Surry Hills (Coner Bourke and Albion Streets)
(02) 8719 0518

Tue to Fri 7.30am–3pm
Sat & Sun 7.30am–3.30pm

Tue to Sat 6pm–10pm