THE ELEGANT ART OF EATING YOUR GREENS
A new wave of vegetarianism is invading some of our best menus. By ELIZA O’HARE
WHEN BRENT SAVAGE AND NICK HILDEBRANDT’S celebrated Sydney restaurant Yellow switched its menu to a completely vegetarian one in February, it signalled a shift in fine dining.there’s a new wave of part-time vegetarianism; the elegant art of eating all of your greens — with matched wines, of course. Gone are gritty vegie dishes in grimy surrounds; this movement is all about pairing heirloom baby endive withveuve Clicquot in chic interiors. Green appreciation has been a long time coming,with chefs such asyotam Ottolenghi leading the way with his best-selling vegetarian cookbooks Plenty, released back in 2010, and Plenty More, from 2014. But you know it’s a real thing when Alain Ducasse’s Paris restaurant in the Hôtel Plaza Athénée sidesteps meat dishes for a greater focus on grains, fish and vegetables. While not everyone wants to commit to offering a fully green menu, there’s a greater percentage of serious restaurants introducing big-flavoured vegetarian dishes. After all, the new (part-time) vegetarian is also a flavour seeker. It could be a controversial move, but chef Brent Savage saysyellow has always had a focus on vegetables.“our vegetarian and vegan menus have grown increasingly popular at all three restaurants [Yellow, Bentley and Monopole, all in Sydney], so it felt like a natural progression,” he explains.“the response to the new menu has been really positive, and it’s early days, but the parsnip ‘pappardelle’ is definitely a contender for our bestseller.” Chef Mike Mcenearney of Kitchen by Mike is in the final stages of developing the menu for his new Sydney restaurant, No. 1 Bent Street (due to open this month), and is committing to more green dishes. “I love vegetables — if I was only allowed to eat one food group for the rest of my life it would be veg,” he says.“there’s just so much diversity and such great flavour.they formed the bulk of my dishes at KBM [Kitchen by Mike] and will certainly feature heavily at No 1. Bent Street.” Adding kick to the green dining experience is juice pairing. At Silvereye, in Sydney’s new foodie precinct, Chippendale, manager/sommelier James Audas says diners are embracing a side order of bespoke matched fruit-and-vegetable juices.“many of our guests who previously would have had a soda water or a single glass of wine get to be part of the engaging experience that is our pairings.there are definitely favourites, like the rose kombucha and raspberry matched with beetroot dishes, or the apple, beetroot and dried lemon myrtle matched with oxtail.” Sounds like the time is ripe to celebrate your vegetarian leanings.
Le Creuset casserole, $539, lecreuset.com.au. Yellow, Sydney. Inset: chef Brent Savage. Above: chef Mike Mcenearney. Right: Kitchen by Mike’s watermelon, tomato and haloumi salad.
Kitchenaid Stand Mixer, $879, kitchenaid.com.au. Silvereye executive chef Sam Miller; his sunflower and geranium crispbread. Right: the restaurant.
Weylandts mixing bowl, from $25, weylandts.com.au.
Riedel glass, $50 for two.