Verd Surry Hills
Time Out says
This healthy-living shop is Sydney’s new standard bearer for clean eating on the go, dishing up superfood-spiked vegan bowls in Surry Hills
Remember the salad bar, the favoured takeaway food of the Mirandas of the world circa 1998? Don’t get that reference? That’s how long ago salad bars were cool. But with 2018 shaping up to be the Year of Self Care, it’s no wonder that the newest kid on Sydney’s clean-eating block is reinventing the concept with a menu that’ll make your vegan and macrobiotic mates weep with joy.
The small Surry Hills space (there are outposts in Barangaroo and Manly as well) cleverly uses recycled wood for a wall-length bench and pastel-pink stools and tables designed to take up limited real estate. They’re great for solo diners (no more feeling like sally no-mates at a giant table) or a cosy bite for two, with an airy and relaxed eat-in atmosphere. The wooden sculpture that wends its way from the ceiling down the walls pulls together the space, as does the verdant mural winding around the entrance, to make it feel like more than just a prep counter. The shop’s billed as online only, which is a bit confusing as you can order in person. It might refer to the fact that they don’t take cash, so put away the bills and have your plastic or smartphone at the ready. Crunched for time? A few clicks via the website or app will also have your food ready and waiting for you exactly when you need to grab it and dash.
With just a few bowls (aka salads) to choose from ($12.90-$13.90), ordering in person is as streamlined as online. Overall, the food is macrobiotic-ish, and fully vegan, with lots of shredded raw veg and sprouted bits. For those repelled by the thought of eating kale, look away now, because it’s basically wall-to-wall frilly fronds here. For the rest of us, this leafy green is the vegetal vehicle for Verd’s richly umami dressings, and sturdy enough to gird the hearty heaps of toppings you get. Meat and dairy lovers bold enough to venture in will do a double take at the vegan feta – a dead ringer for the real deal.
In the bowl popularity contest, Bondi Broc is a crowd pleaser with kale, spinach, broccoli florets, teriyaki almonds, croutons (from Iggy’s bakery), that feta, and exotic inca berries (a zippy, bright foil for the savoury bits), all tossed with the creamy turmeric dressing for added anti-inflammatory points.
Verd’s Tijuana bowl – a healthy take on a taco salad with black beans, tortilla chips, tomatoes, lettuce and cashew cheese – gets top marks. So does the ‘Poke’ bowl: sesame-crusted tempeh, savoury crisp shallots and spicy kim-chi and radish, all atop brown rice. Bung in a side of avo or feta ($3) for extra heartiness. Order the OG Macro for seriously flavourful bacon tempeh and avo, the only bowl with the latter as permanent ingredient, while the Raw Rad Thai satisfies any hankering for a taste of satay.
All three smoothies are a study in how properly to mix things in a blender – particularly the peanut-butter-and-protein-based Commando Ed ($10) and vibrant, mango-based Sun God ($10) – each made with coconut water and superfood ingredients for filling, thick smoothies that don’t stray into liquid junk-food territory. For a daily dose of probiotics, get the fresh kombucha (on tap, $5). Brownies and peanut bars check all the dessert clean-eating boxes (raw, organic) but a Commando Ed would be the ultimate post-prandial sweet treat, doing double duty as a protein powerhouse.
With places like Verd bringing flavourful, healthy vegan food to the mainstream, it’s easier than ever to avoid cheat days.