Social Responsibility + Full-On Inclusiveness + Delicious Vegan Food
We found the most awesome vegan restaurant in Sydney! It’s called Lentil as Anything (LAA) and is in Newtown (easily accessible by a quick train ride from downtown). LAA is a non-profit organization that utilizes donated ingredients from food rescue programs, volunteer waitstaff, and a pay-as-you-feel structure.
There are no prices and no checks, you just drop some money in the Magic Box on the way out the door. The great part about this is that because there’s no obligation to contribute a predetermined amount, it allows those who have a bit less to still be a part of this inclusive community experience and to contribute what they are able.
As we walked down King Street on our way to LAA, there were some cute restaurants and bars (including at least one other vegan restaurant with a “Veganism is magic” neon sign), but we knew we’d found the right place when we saw the huge crowd of people on the sidewalk waiting to get in. There were tons of other places around with no wait (in fact, this was the only line we saw), so we knew this was going to be good if people were willing to wait for it.
The place was packed and there was barely enough room for the waitstaff to squeeze between the large community-style tables. We ended up being seated along the window-side bar, giving us a great view of the ever-growing crowd outside. At one point I couldn’t even see the end of the line. It was amazing.
The atmosphere inside was fun and casual. There was live music, which occasionally turned into a sing-along, and a very inclusive feel. There was a yoga class just ending upstairs and a free library in the corner. Everyone was having a great time…the whole place had a really great energy.
Because the ingredients are donated, the menu changes daily and when it runs out, it runs out. When we arrived there were four options on the menu: a mushroom cauliflower stroganoff, potato kofta, carrot and corriander soup, and Sri Lankan curry. We had the stroganoff and the kofta, which were both fantastic (and both off the menu by the time we left). Desert was a peach crumble and chai. The whole concept really shows how you can take what you have, whatever it may be, and turn it into something delicious.
If you’re in Sydney, you simply must visit Lentil as Anything. They are open from 12-3 for lunch and 6-9 for dinner (plus 10-12 for weekend brunch). Get there early and donate generously to this fantastic organization.