Plants and Me, a healthier life

No longer fringe, plant-based eating has enjoyed a growth in followers over the past few years.

Many people enjoy plant-based meals on a regular basis, looking to plant-based restaurants to lead the way with new ideas on what to cook in their own homes.

Green & Gold Fritter Stack

Plants and Me vegan restaurant is one of the latest additions to the plant-based food scene, its owner Zee Ali having first opened Plant Based Eatz with his brother before moving on to open his own place. Now, at Plants and Me, Zee and his team are producing fine plant-based food that’s grabbing attention from diners.

Located on the southern end of Scarborough Street, Southport, Plants and Me is just a few steps away from the Southport South tram stop.

It’s a cool, dimly lit, ambient venue that has housed several previous restaurants. On entry, there’s a display cabinet of takeaway salads, homemade pies and vegan cakes at the front counter before you step up into the restaurant proper. Grey plaster walls serve to accentuate the design features: a wall of plants, an open kitchen and servery at the back of the space, and above us billowing fairy floss cloud lights. A neon lit sign ‘Be kind to every kind’ outlines a simple philosophy; one that we wish more humans would also note when dealing with each other.

Chef Italo Calandra with owner Zee Ali

With Italo Calandra, his Italian vegan chef and his mother Eirren, Zee is producing an array of beautifully presented dishes ranging from Italian to Indian to Modern Australian in origin.

While Zee only embraced veganism three years ago, Italo began eating healthier food in 2012 and has been vegan for about five years, transitioning for health reasons.

Abura soba with deep-fried gyoza

As a health and plant-based nutrition coach, Italo has a great understanding of plant-based foods. Sustainability, animal welfare and environmental reasons are also important to him. All in all, his healthy food philosophy aligns well with the philosophy of the café. [Happy chef, happy food!]

Waffle with berry compote and maple syrup

While we may see Italy as a foodie hub, “Veganism is not as prevalent in Italy as here,” Italo tells us. “There is a lot of fried food there,” the budding vegan chef says, adding that there is more of a push there towards macrobiotic and slow foods.

Bento box

Featuring healthy plant-based meals (rather than synthetic or fried foods), the breakfast menu of stacks, scrambles and the Big Brekkie is joined by lunchtime dishes from 11am – burgers, bowls, noodles and a fabulous bento box, many of which are gluten-free. Fresh juices, smoothies, açai bowls, organic coffees and raw cakes round out the menu of healthy vegan food, all tasty and gorgeously presented.

For us, health is a great reason to eat more plant-based foods. With its emphasis on that, Plants and Me Vegan is a cool place to enjoy an iced long black as we share a couple of dishes.

Curried vegetable pie (vegan) with Quinoa and corn salad

The bento is a favourite, along with Eirren’s curried vegie pie. We’ve never seen a vegan pastry so light and buttery, well complemented by the curried vegetable filling.

With a constantly evolving menu, we look forward to seeing what these chefs can produce in the future.

Plants & Me Vegan, 4/20 Scarborough St, Southport Ph: 0478 086 339

Open: Daily 7am — 2pm

NOTE: Watch for Plants and Me’s weekly specials, such as ‘2 for 1 burgers’ on Mondays and student discounts on Thursdays.

Good Food Gold Coast dined as a guest of Plants and Me.

Open: Daily 7am — 2pm
4/20 Scarborough St, Southport QLD, Australia