Matt McLennan wanted to combine his experience in organic wholefoods (he co-founded Taste Organic grocer) with his passion for plant-based dining. Together with partner Pim Tummasombut he founded Gathered Kitchen. It’s taking over the space that once housed Vietnamese favourite Hem Nine Nine.
“We found we had a common interest in organics and wanted to do something slightly different,” says McLennan. “Being vegan myself, I knew a completely plant-based cafe and bakery would be unique to Sydney. And we wanted to make this kind of eating more accessible.”
As well as being 100 per cent plant-based, most dishes are organic and loaded with vegetables instead of mock meat. The pair comes up with ideas for dishes together and Tummasombut’s Thai heritage is apparent throughout the menu – most spectacularly in a dish of pandan and lemongrass waffles – pandan-green squares layered with caramelised banana, wattleseed ice-cream and coconut syrup.
There are sliders, too, one with pulled jackfruit and apple coleslaw, lime aioli and Sriracha on a brioche-like bun. And a quinoa-chickpea burger with Brazil-nut parmesan and wasabi mayonnaise. There’s even vegan bacon (rice paper marinated in a smoky maple sauce), which arrives in a bagel with radish, tomato, lettuce, truffle mayo and vegan haloumi made from cold-pressed coconut oil.
Getting the baked goods right was a bit of a holy grail for the pair. “The croissant took some time to develop,” McLennan says. “We use cold-pressed coconut oil because it has a similar consistency to butter and gives you that beautiful buttery, flakey texture.”
There are passionfruit palmiers; coconut and activated charcoal croissants; and matcha cruffins with blackberry filling. All the desserts are refined-sugar free.
If you can, grab a table in the sunny back courtyard. Inside, a black-and-white photo of sustainable rice farming in Thailand and philosopher and animal-rights activist Peter Singer might give unsuspecting diners a clue about the food philosophy.
99 Glebe Point Road, Glebe
Mon to Fri 9am–5pm