Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The new veg restaurant on the block

I love it when a new vegetarian restaurant is born. And it's even more exciting when that new dining venue is a hop, skip and a jump from my home. So, one Wednesday at lunchtime I skipped over to Loving Eden in Glebe, and gave it a try.

I have to admit that it is a dining experience not dis-similar to being at your grandma's place, as recipes do not follow any rule book or even the menu for that matter, the ingredients are practically picked from the garden, and if you don't know what to order, the chef comes out and makes up your mind for you.

Having first sat down at one of the non-descript front of shop tables, we soon discovered the large outdoor dining area and relocated. Outside it's easier to see why they named the place "Loving Eden". It's quite spacious, there are a number of plants and Buddhas around the perimeter, and soon a vine will cover the pergola. The outdoor chairs and tables are a bit "cafeteria-like", but the atmosphere of the place will probably pick up over time. The waiter, who is also one of the owners, told us that they have plans to introduce live music of a calm, spiritual nature.

While the prices are particularly affordable (entrees are $5, main dishes are $9) they haven't compromised on quality. I'm told that the tofu is made fresh daily. We were given a quick explanation of which types of noodles are in which soups and how the flavours differ, which was helpful as titles such as "Wonder noodle soup" had not left us any wiser. Typically, the noodle soups are not filled with loads of vegetables, as the flavours and noodles themselves are supposed to be the main ingredients.

We began with the crispy rolls as an entree, which were delicious and quite unusual. The rolls were filled with mushroom, eggplant and tofu, wrapped in rice paper, and fried in breadcrumbs. They are served with a small side salad and sweet chili sauce for dipping.

For mains I decided to order the Wonder Noodle Soup, which was a non-spicy dish, and it arrived with a side of ingredients that I was free to add to the soup according to my taste: basil, lemon, home-made soy flavouring and sprouts. I liked having that level of involvement in creating my meal. My companion ordered the satay tofu rice, which was a surprise in that the satay recipe had almost no peanuts in it, but was nevertheless a lovely dish.

Although the current menu is completely vegan and offers a number of gluten free choices, we departed with the promise that the full menu (yet to be printed) will include a delicious selection of vegan cakes and ice creams, as well as the option of gluten-free alternatives to almost any dish. So, I guess we have to eat there again when the new menu is in place. Who wants to join us?

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