At last: five-star food you can feel virtuous about eating
How often do you go to a restaurant and leave feeling not just content, but really, truly good about yourself? If you’re anything like us (“Yes, we’ll have one of every dessert please”), then the answer is: not that often.
Well all that’s about to change. Because Folonomo has opened in Surry Hills (with a sister café, Gratia, next door) and not only does the food taste amazing, but 100 per cent of the restaurant’s profits go to not-for-profit organisations. It’s an enterprise established by philanthropist Matthew Byrne, who co-founded the Pure Foundation, an NPO where other philanthropists can donate their funds to support, even establish, charities around the world. Folonomo stands for ‘For Love Not Money’.
So obviously we walk in hoping the food will be good: and thanks to co-head chefs Jo Ward (ex-Vincent and Bloodwood) and ex-private chef (and Spice Temple’s former bar manager) Michelle Powell on the pass, it really is. The space is everything you want a restaurant in 2016 to be: a heritage building that’s been pared back to bare brick walls, with a sleek bar and a private outdoor courtyard for alfresco dining. Their liquor licence hasn’t come through yet (they’ll give you a 15 per cent off voucher for the bottle shop down the road for your BYO needs) so we settle in with a house-made strawberry kombucha, which is light, fizzy and balanced.
The rabbit croquettes are delicious (chewy, soft, crunchy, fresh) but the chicken blows our minds. Cooked long and slow in white wine, it’s served with house-made Tunisian-style harissa, fresh coriander and pops of toasty hazelnuts. We’re practically drinking the sauce by the time it’s finished. Try the cauliflower rice: it’s tossed with shredded silver beet, cucumber, mint, toasted tamari pepitas and sesame. It bangs with flavour and texture. Not only is it veggie but it’s also a diabetic’s dream – who needs rice when you can eat this instead?
Lamb is served sliced up over smoked eggplant purée and a jus that’s been cooked to sweet, umami perfection. But nothing impresses as much as the sunflower seed risotto. It happens to be vegan and is made without rice; just soaked and cooked sunflower seeds, it's served with charred broccolini and crunchy mung, lentil and snow pea sprouts (stir-fried in curry oil made by Byrne’s mum!). It’s creamy, nutty and rich – and we want the recipe (Folonomo: The Cookbook – we need you).
Dessert is equally excellent: salty, honey-infused chèvre cream paired with bitter chocolate sorbet and turmeric and cardamom mousse, with little shards of chocolate made from dehydrated croissants smashed and mixed with chocolate ganache.
After we eat, we’re welcomed to an art show upstairs at the Folonomo Gallery. So we get a bit of kulcha while we’re giving to charity. Seriously, this place is hard to fault. The food is playful, adventurous but still accessible enough to bring your mum to. It’s also health-driven – Powell likes every ingredient to “do something good for the body.” And it’s all for a good cause. Folonomo, you have our stomachs and you have our hearts. Now promise to never leave us, k?
370 Bourke St
|Opening hours:||Tue-Sat 6pm-late|