Hidden foodie treasures like this are so hard to find these days – everywhere always feels like it’s trying to be something else or just trying too hard. One of my new sisters (the one in the fabulous green pants at Eathouse Diner a few weeks ago) told me – quite sternly – that I had to try Nourishing Quarter on Cleveland Street, next door to The Norfolk and across the road from one of my favourite places, Porteno.
It’s been open for around a year but the team in the kitchen has been together for longer with their food stalls at Glebe and more recently Fox Studios markets. The food is vegetarian Vietnamese/Latin American and most of the meals are gluten and wheat free! (please keep reading…).
I feel like I’ve walked in to my grandparent’s house. Photos and paintings of Queen Elizabeth II and kitsch royal memorabilia sit amongst old china tea pots, Buddha, and books on wholefood philosophy – it’s holistic, eclectic, homely and like me, a little bit mad.
I keep seeing words like “interwoven”, “carrying” and “accentuated” dotted throughout the menu options – I can feel the love in their cooking. There are so many things I want to try but I’m dining alone and ordering for one is not something I’m good at.
I’m starting with the ‘Three sisters trio’ of Vietnamese rice paper rolls’ ($10)… oh and a fresh coconut.
The ‘Latasia nourishing roll with thom mint’ (South American royal quinoa grains, omega 3 chia seeds, light stir-fried crispy julienned vegetables, textured tofu based vegetable protein); ‘Sweet angel wraps with ram mint’ (marinated crème de tofu strips interwoven with royal quinoa grains and sweet kumara noodles, omega 3 chia seeds, crispy julienned pickled carrots and Vietnamese mustard, mint and cucumber); ‘Sacre-Bi roll with tia to mint’ (royal quinoa grains, chia seeds, tofu strips roasted in ancient grain (thinh) powder, sweet kumara noodles, sprouts, lettuce, spices and exotic green herbs and served with flavoursome clear soy-based nuoc cham sauce), all served with the NQ special peanut and bean dipping sauce.
They look beautiful and delicate on the plate. Green and purple mint leaves sit pretty under their thin transparent skins. I just know that everything I’m eating will directly impact the way I and my body will feel – damn good! The ‘Sweet angel wrap with ram mint’ is my favourite, warm, hearty, soft and sweet. I’ll never look at another pale limp rice paper roll the same again…
Next it’s the ‘Quinoa noodle salad in two sauces with crunchy tofu pieces’ ($16.50), an Asian style noodle salad with quinoa/amaranth rice flour based noodles, mung bean noodles, Vietnamese spearmint, roasted sesame dressing, living sprouts, served with crunchy bean curd crinkles and a zesty sesame oil, lime and chili dressing.
It arrives looking like the food gods have prepared it with their own loving hands. Colorful, fresh and full of flavor. Those crunchy bean curd crinkles are nothing short of incredible (yes, I just called bean curd incredible!). This is officially the pork crackling of the vegetarian-gluten free-wheat free-vegan world. For the non-pork fans, think super crunchy, earthy, salty jacket potato skins. There’s got to be more to it than just deep-frying tofu food gods? Please enlighten me.
There’s always a daily selection of cheesecakes for a sweet treat and today I’ve chosen the chocolate raspberry cheesecake. Beautifully rich, creamy and just a little bit tart – it tastes just like a mousey raspberry cherry ripe. I even love the fresh fruit sprinkled with cinnamon that garnishes my plate – there’s the love.
I ask what’s gone in to the cake to make it gluten/wheat/lactose free and I’m shown the book containing all their hand written recipes – it’s kept nearby for quick reference as most meals can be tailored to accommodate “so many food allergies” people have these days. The base is made with almonds, coconut, coconut oil and cacao powder. The filling has cashews, almond milk, agave, coconut oil, coconut butter, cacao powder, raspberries, raspberry oil and agar.
This is the type of food I love and try and cook at home – done properly. I’ll be back within the week for the ‘Lettuce pouches’ and ‘Passage to India curry’.
Please go – taste the love and be nourished. It’s all good (and good for you!)
Nourishing Quarter – 315 Cleveland Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010 – 02 8399 0888