Earth to Table, Bondi Junction
My health-conscious vegan acquaintances had talked up Earth to Table pretty big. I’d read blogs about the vegan cheesecakes. I’d seen many a photograph of meals that were apparently gluten free, dairy free, vegan and yet still delicious. And when I walked in late lunchtime on a Wednesday, the place was still buzzing. So my expectations were high.
Because it was so busy, I had to wait a little while for my food to arrive. But that was fine. I occupied myself by ogling passers-by from my window perch, giggling at a handsome hipster awaiting his takeaway order (he was rude to the friendly staff and then tripped on his way out, karma) and eavesdropping on a middle-aged gentleman raving about how his new vegan diet has transformed his life (he's never had so much energy, apparently).
I've been cutting back on coffee lately so I went for a refreshing cold drink, randomly selecting the “mojo kombucha drink” because I liked the name. Kombucha is meant to be detoxifying, right? Also it said it was an organic ginger tonic and it promised to give me strength stability and serenity, which I thought sounded pretty appealing. It gave me a full body shudder not unlike the reaction I’d imagine having if someone force-fed me ten lemons. Perhaps it was the ginger that was so face-slappingly strong. But after a few tentative sips I grew accustomed to the zing of it and then I enjoyed it.
Not being that familiar with vegan cuisine (aside from a raw food cafe I used to go to in Berkeley called Cafe Gratitude that I went to because of a guy, not for the food) I opted for what I thought would be the most filling meal, the zucchini pasta. Now when I saw zucchini pasta, I mean the pasta itself was actually made from zucchini – hence the no wheat or gluten. It was served in a pretty little mound with spinach, mushroom and a nice creamy tomato sauce (sans actual cream obviously). It was fresh, filling and just the right amount. The flavours were all pretty subtle however, particularly in contrast to my flavourful health drink. My taste buds were craving some kind of kick, whether a spot of chilli or some lemon zest.
Dessert was a takeaway portion of the vegan chocolate brownie with walnuts and cocoa. In the comfort of my own home, I got stuck into it. A seemingly solid brownie became incredibly crumbly as soon as my spoon dug in for my first bite. The consistency and flavour reminded me of a raw cacao protein ball I had once and was never tempted to repeat. In other words, it tasted, (horror of horrors), healthy. Not bad, not bad at all, just, boring. I know that’s the whole point. I know I shouldn’t have been expecting a gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan dessert to taste as glorious as a melting, oozy, nutty brownie covered in real fudge, but hey, it’s Christmas, I’m open to miracles. The only bit that actually tasted of chocolate was the squiggle of sauce on the top that I desperately kept scraping off my plate until I was getting more enamel than chocolate.
Having said all this, I should also say it’s the best (and first) vegan brownie I’ve ever had. Or will ever have, perhaps. I’d go back for the novelty of seeing inventive vegan cooking like this, all of it so beautifully presented. The cake display alone is a marvel. I just couldn’t believe that such beautiful looking cakes could be made without butter, eggs, honey, wheat, sugar or cheese. Oh, which reminds me, next time I’m trying one of their cheesecakes. Or to be accurate, “cheese” cakes. God know what’s in them, but they look amazing.
Earth to Table, 85 Bronte Road, Bondi Junction, 9029 1755
By Lucy McNabb