Food – Dodging the sins of animal flesh

2012-03-30 10:26

My lunch partner and I have been meaning to get to The Greenside Café in Joburg’s trendy Greenside, but every time we plan it a piece of steak or a big chop gets in the way.

Not so, last Tuesday lunchtime.

Filled with an array of slim, healthy and, it has to be noted white, folk sipping wholesome looking juices in rainbow colours and tucking into plates of food piled high with multi-coloured vegetables, we sat down to be wowed.

And we were.

We started with a ­freshly squeezed juice each – mine, apple and plum with just the right amount of tart; while my companion went with a ginger-infused concoction that I wish I had had too.

For once we weren’t knocking back wine with our food and would have been disappointed if we’d wanted to as the place hasn’t a wine list – a bit of a shortcoming if you’re a ­­dipso-vegan, which most of the ones I know are.

Dimitri Gutjahr the owner, who was on hand to explain the food to anyone who was a tofu virgin, prides himself on serving up healthy food.

For a taste-chaser like myself though flavour is always the first consideration – no matter what the meal or occasion.

And on that score, The Greenside Café can’t be faulted.

Gutjahr’s advice to wannabe veggies is not to go cold turkey, so to speak, but rather to just eat less and less meat until it’s superfluous.

The menu includes a variety of pasta and pizza dishes, but those are easy vegetarian options for all of us. For me, who wants ideas to take home and wield in the ongoing battle to eat less meat – it’s the rest of his menu that was on my to-eat list.

I ended up ordering a lunch called Victorino – with the word victory hidden in it, I was sure it was another step in my programme to dodge the sins of animal flesh.

I was right – double yum yum.

It was brown rice, steamed spinach, broccoli, grated carrot, shredded beetroot, sweet potatoes with caramelised onions and tofu.

Sounds dull, tasted scrumptious. Nothing was swimming in sauce, but each item on the colourful plate had clearly been flavoured with something different to bring out the natural flavours of the food.

My fellow diner tucked into a Quinoa and Vegan Mince Veggie Pie, she was probably hoping against hope that “mince” had something to do with beef.

It didn’t, but it also didn’t matter – it too was delicious. She did, however, take most of it home for dinner because the portion was huge.

She also waxed lyrical about the mashed potato, without a whisper of dairy or animal fat it tasted just as decadent as if it was created with cream and butter.

Other stuff on the menu to try next time include a Wellington Nut Bake and then there’s the raw food special of the day and the uncooked chocolate cake.

After I had polished my plate and declared myself full, we moved on to dessert. Being full has nothing to do with dessert, as you probably know.

I had phyllo baskets filled with liquid chocolate – what’s not to love?

My fellow diner had a banana and peanut butter dessert – it didn’t look up to much, but she wolfed it down so fast I didn’t have time to ask for a taste.

While it is likely that I won’t be able to always resist the siren call of meaty spag bol or steak and kidney pie, The Greenside Café is a great option for anyone looking for a tasty, healthful lunch to get them through an afternoon of work.

This isn’t the kind of food that makes you want to find a couch to sleep it off on, instead it’s more likely to give you rosy cheeks and a penchant for hiking.

» The Greenside Café is open Tuesday to Sunday, but only serves dinner on Friday and Saturday nights
011 646 3444 

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