Veganism is out! Loud, bold and proud!
“Just because you’re vegan, it doesn’t mean you can’t have a good time,” GreenHouse Factory co-owner Natalie Evans told us.
Realising that vegans and vegetarians were suffering from a serious lack of dining choices on the coast, Natalie opened the GreenHouse Factory as the sun arose on 2014. With its recycled timber fitout and sweeping views across water to Surfers paradise, veganism entered a new age, with a licensed venue to hang their hat on. Little could anyone have guessed that just two short years later the restaurant would relocate due to redevelopment.
“It is with the heaviest of hearts that we notify you that…our beautiful home for the last two years will be transformed into a set of beachfront apartments,” Natalie wrote on her Facebook page as vegans collectively drew a gasp.
All was not lost, however. A new venue can bring new life, and this certainly seems the case with Greenhouse. Not only is there greater intimacy and buzz in the venue (a corner store which formerly housed a pizza shop), but there’s added assurance in the menu compared to their beginnings.
What had begun as a wall of green in Kirra has migrated north, the greenhouse ‘effect’ more subtly achieved in Greenhouse Canteen. Offset again by recycled timber and a pressed metal servery, the venue is flanked by large windows opening out onto wrap around pavement seating. Inside and out you can choose from high or low seating, privacy afforded by plants and ferns dotted throughout. A true greenhouse, in more than one sense of the word!
‘Cruelty free and killing it’ the street sign crows. There’s no mistaking the mission, yet on our visit there’s no proselytizing. The food speaks for itself.
It’s food for the dining public, for wholefood eaters as well as vegetarians and vegans. There’s no problem here following the advice to ‘increase your green intake’. But think ‘just veg’ and we’d be really underselling the skill behind this operation. In Greenhouse Canteen there’s a great deal of assurance coming from the kitchen, with great balance in flavour and nutritional value.
Even from opening, the restaurant is packed each night. Walk in only, except for groups of six or more, there’s a steady stream of diners as well as takeaways, tables turning relatively quickly due to the kitchen’s efficiency.
Seated inside, we’re surrounded by conversations ranging from planetary awareness to choosing shoes; as diverse as Greenhouse’s clientele. Shoes aren’t off the mark, actually, with the store being home to a Lovechild clothing and shoe store, continuing their association with Greenhouse as ‘cruelty-free fashion and plant-based food’.
Besides water, we check out the drinks list which, though not extensive, includes some gems: House-made lemonade, cold-pressed juices, Chai or turmeric latté made on coconut milk, Angoves and Wild Fox organic wines, and six cocktails.
We settle on Stone & Wood (on tap, together with a Pickled Pig lime and coconut cider – one for next visit) as well as Lemon myrtle iced tea, made ‘sour’ at my request. Already I’m loving the experience, not a fan of the extra sugar often picked up along the road to vegetarianism!
The menu has soaked up some world accents on the journey with the Street Food section including an Enchilada, a Vietnamese pancake, Gourmet Hot Dawg (an Adzuka bean and quinoa ‘sausage’ tarted up with gourmet accompaniments), Socca (a chickpea flatbread originating from Nice), as well as Nachos. (And let’s not forget our own bush tucker, the lemon myrtle in my tea.)
It’s also a menu which states its culinary principles: seasonal, macrobiotic, raw, mostly organic wholefood using nutrient rich ingredients (some, such as besan AKA chickpea flour and house-made dairy alternatives, unfamiliar to mainstream diners), each dish spiced up to please the palate.
We begin with Stuffed zucchini flowers, filled with almond ‘feta’, olives and sundried tomatoes, a good dish to share, backed up by the Seafood Basket (nori-wrapped besan-battered mushroom fillets accompanied by seared ‘scallop’ mushroom stalks and hand cut potatoes served with tartare and a lemon zest salad) and Pulled Jackfruit Enchilada (a smoked jackfruit and dahl filled buckwheat enchilada topped with Mexican cashew cheese, sour cream and a load of greens). While the innate sweetness of the jackfruit has been lost in its smoking, what it does add is a stringy pulled texture to complement the vegetables and avocado.
As dishes arrive at tables around us, we stop and stare. They’re really generous portions; plates laden with goodness. Frankly, I’d forgotten how much volume our vegan friends eat! All ‘grass’ (greens), you may think, but there’s a lot of nutritional density in here as well, the besan flour really high in protein; nuts, oils and coconut high in fats; as well as seeds and grains; so the serving is more than ample.
We’d also ordered Sweet Socca, a caramelised oven baked chickpea flatbread served with grilled banana and pineapple with a lime and coconut syrup topping. It’s pretty delicious with the zing of fresh fruit, as is the Raw salted caramel and popcorn slice with a vanilla cashew cream, a dessert which we take away to eat at another time.
Good eating is available to all. One of the most impressive aspects of our evening was the service. Welcoming to everyone, wait staff are completely unpretentious, passionate and knowledgeable, giving menu directions and patiently explaining dishes to diners. With music bopping, the kitchen pumping through the orders and staff running foot to the pedal, it’s still no problem to provide a non-dining passerby with a glass of water and a smile. Such biblical hospitality is a rare and welcome sight.
From Factory (with its connotations of commercialism and mass production), to Canteen + Bar (think communal eating and drinking place), Greenhouse has staked its claim on the Gold Coast dining public. Greenhouse may have only moved from Kirra to Miami, yet it has travelled a long way in its two years of life. A boundary-breaking alternative destination restaurant, Greenhouse Canteen + Bar is a very real statement that you can live by your values, be different to the crowd, and thrive.
1916 Gold Coast Highway, Miami Ph: 07 5520 7722 Mob: 0435 290 434
Open: Tues – Sun 5.00pm – 9pm
You’ll find a full article about vegetarian and vegan restaurants here.
NOTE: This review has also been published on More Gold Coast.