Yes, the headline says it all – there’s now another item that can be crossed off the list of “things that could make Sydney vegans be jealous of Melbourne”! Tonight was the Opening Night of the Newtown-based Lentil as Anything, a ‘pay-as-you-feel’ enterprise that relies heavily on volunteers and the good side of human nature. This was definitely big enough news to break the almost 5-month drought on this blog!
There was a lot of buzz building up the last couple of weeks, especially when the announcement was made online that the menu would be 100% vegan. So when I checked the FB event page and found “1.7K” people had put in an RSVP for the opening night event, I figured it would be worth getting there early. In fact I was even slightly worried that half an hour wouldn’t be early enough, but in the end that turned out to be just about the perfect timing. I was around 5th in the queue, and 15 minutes later, when TGO arrived to join me, there were already at least a couple of dozen people behind us. At a guess, by 6pm that number had swelled to over 100!
The space didn’t look terribly big from the outside but it turned out there was quite a lot of seating tucked away down the back. However when the doors opened TGO and I snagged a really lovely table for two right by the front window – perfect for people-watching!
Straight away we were served a bottle of water with glasses, and the choices for the evening were explained to us – very sensibly they had decided to offer only two dishes, the “Curry Platter” and the “Japanese Platter”. Mindful of how quickly orders were going to get backed up in the kitchen, we immediately picked one of each – so we were seated and had ordered by 6.07pm (which I know specifically as we were asked what the time was so it could be written down on the order!).
TGO and I were both fairly hungry, so we were looking forward to the food but also feeling sorry for the staff, who were totally swamped with the remarkable turnout. (As it happens, several volunteers didn’t show up that night, and even some who had started their shift then left before 7pm anyway!) Unfortunately, part of that overload led to our dishes being served to the wrong table, thereby thwarting our ‘get in early, order fast, and eat promptly’ ploy.
However, it wasn’t too long a wait until our replacement dishes came out (after a genuine apology for the error – impressively, despite the pressure of so many customers, all the staff were really lovely and didn’t seem as stressed as I would have expected! They were even taking platters full of cups of vegan chai out to those waiting out in the cold) and TGO in particular was very happy with his curry platter. I thought the Japanese platter was fairly enjoyable without being spectacular. The food was presented well, although my dish didn’t photograph as well as TGO’s (admittedly that is probably down to my camera skills because it did look good IRL).
Mindful of the long queue still lining up outside on the street, we didn’t linger. There was also no dessert on offer, so we vacated the table around 7.15pm. The décor is great and I would be keen to go back another time to both try some other dishes (smoked tofu and corn cakes!) and enjoy the chance to have a more leisurely meal with the whole menu to choose from. In all honestly, I was still hungry and would have liked more food as part of the dinner – either savoury food or a dessert – so I actually had a toast sandwich with nut spread and jam when I arrived back home.
I’m now also interested in heading to the venue during the day, because the space is shared by various different businesses, including one that offers vegan options for cookies and milkshakes! Mmmmmm... That will have to wait for a future blog post, hopefully much sooner than five months hence...
But to wrap up this post… we popped some cashola into the “contributions box” (that’s the ‘pay-as-you-feel’ part!) and headed away. It felt really great that Lentil as Anything was supported so well on its opening night, and I hope that it continues to thrive.
PS In other news... I just made my first ever ‘playlist’ on YouTube. It’s the Cheesy Moves series, featuring Rap Attack and the Cruelty Free Shop. The 5 videos are each very short, so the entire playlist runs for about 2 ½ minutes – check it out! But be warned - it's not called Cheesy Moves for nothing! ;)