When David Ortega first heard of raw veganism from a friend in Peru, he was sceptical. But his friend explained it was more complex than just fresh fruit and vegetables. That friend, Juan Carlos Miranda, is Plant Gallery's chef.
There's pizza, ceviche, curries, stews and Peruvian dishes such as arroz chaufa, a fried-rice dish. None of these contain any animal products, anything processed and nothing is cooked at over 45 degrees. The arroz chaufa, for instance, isn’t fried at all, nor does it have any rice in it. Instead there’s parsnip, cauliflower and sesame seeds held together with sweet tamari to make granular clumps. The carpaccio uses beetroot instead of beef. The vegetables are thinly sliced and topped with avocado, house-dried tomato and a dressing of aniseed myrtle oil, mustard and olive oil.
A faux big breakfast contains cold-smoked eggplant “bacon” or a raw “pancake” stack with chewy wafers, banana, strawberries, and a drizzling of agave, chocolate and a lime and Thai basil syrup. Ortega and Miranda have taken inspiration from Melbourne’s vegan scene and chefs such as the raw movement guru Matthew Kenney. “You don't need to eat meat, plants can be really interesting,” Ortega says.
There’s a lot of creativity in the drinks as well. The mocktail list includes a Black Citrus, with lime, sparking water, agave, charcoal and zing from a dusting of fresh chilli and cayenne pepper. Fittingly, these experimental dishes are served in the site of an old art gallery. The restaurant, just two long tables with a front lounge, is encased in white gallery walls adorned with works from local artists.
Like the art on the wall, Plant Gallery is likely to keep changing. Ortega says he hopes to open a bar where you pay on entry and get whatever the chef is making.
95 Bondi Road, Bondi
(02) 8971 3674
Wed to Thu 11am–10pm