When Cardamom Pod Broadbeach began serving à la carte breakfasts, the Gold Coast’s vegan/vegetarian dining scene took a massive turn skywards. With beautifully presented, nutritious meals made to order, Cardamom Pod converted a throng of fans, their fruit and flower laden ‘Pod’ breakfast bowl being named one of the best dishes on the Coast.
In fact, they were so popular that the team decided to start a new restaurant specialising in à la carte, choosing a side wing of the established food hub the Brickworks, Ferry Road for their venue. Chef Manju, owner/chef at Brickworks, took several senior staff members with her including Prema, who’d managed the Broadbeach establishment. (If there’s a downside to Cardamom’s expansion, it is that with Prema and Manju’s exodus, Broadbeach no longer has à la carte – for now.)
The new restaurant is beautiful, fresh, airy and plant-driven, the unbleached paper menus adorned with botanical pen drawings, with a large henna-like representation of Krishna gracing one wall.
Prema, the dessert chef, tell us that Cardamom Pod’s cuisine is based on a holistic Ayurveda philosophy which emphasises the whole spiritual and physical being, including the integration of medicinal foods into everyday eating for maintenance of a healthy lifestyle.
“It’s the science of life,” she tells us. “We are what we eat, so we should put the correct fuel into our bodies. It will improve our quality of life as well as that of animals and the planet.”
Many of the café staff are Krishna devotees, so the café’s cuisine is a fusion of Eastern and Western culture. Prema, having lived in India for some time, tells us that Indians are the masters of sourdough, in fact of many different types of bread. They were the original alchemists, being able to transform the simplest ingredients into complex and wonderful dishes. It’s a theme also evident in the restaurant’s cuisine.
We talk at some length about the rich history of India’s cuisine, about the place of feasting in Indian culture, as well as food as medicine.
“Besides our philosophy, our unique selling point is that we use herbs and spices not just to enhance the flavour of food but also as preventative medicine incorporated in everything here: meals, juices, mocktails and super smoothies. Ginger juice, for example, protects against uterine cancer.
Lots of people come into Cardamom Pod wanting to make healthier food choices,” Prema says. “We create a ‘feel good’ factor and people notice the difference. Many customers come back twice a day, every day. There are a lot who have health issues and food allergies, and they inspire us to do more gluten-free and nut-free dishes. Really, though, we are open to anyone who wants to improve their health choices.”
Open seven days a week for breakfast and lunch, the new Cardamom Pod holds many of our favourite dishes (such as the Pod’s special açai or pitaya bowl) as well as some delicious-looking new ones! Salads, koftas, tempura, fritters, rice paper rolls, burgers and tacos… There are so many choices, we’re amazed at the inventiveness of it all, let alone its presentation.
Cardamom Pod is the haven of the super healthy, and good food never looked this good. We’re reminded to eat the rainbow of colours. No matter what you choose, here comes your meal in a bowl perfectly arranged by Debbie, or on a hand-thrown plate adorned by flowers and cacao nibs, or in a coloured glass with fruit edging its rim. Painstakingly presented, gorgeously feminine and markedly Instagrammable, we gorge on this food with our eyes before a bite ever passes our lips. Simply beautiful! So awe-inspiring that we know it must be good for us!
We branch out to try the Sweet Waffles with a heart of vegan peanut butter ice cream, a side of choci peanut sauce, topped with caramelised peanuts, banana and berries. Violets, chocolate dirt and tiny meringues complete a perfect dish.
We’re yet to try the Mumbai Chaat, a more markedly Indian-influenced dish than many others, featuring spinach and fenugreek roti, tandoori tofu skewers, mango chutney, sesame-mustard crusted potatoes, mint chutney, sweet potato boat filled with turmeric-infused sprouted mung bean salad, topped with tamarind chutney and crispy chickpea pearls. And you were afraid of going hungry after a plant-based meal? Think again!
Grabbing the chance, we’re intrigued by the Turmeric latte and Matcha latte, both being famous for their medicinal properties. Our verdict? Matcha may have ‘137 times more antioxidants than regularly brewed green tea and 10 times the nutritional value’ but for us it’s no contest. The turmeric wins hands down! So much goodness in an absolutely delicious drink!
Even before we look at the menu, every time we go to Cardamon Pod, I’ll be ordering a Turmeric latte to savour each slow sip, soaking up the tranquillity of this lovely space. By the way, you can BYO alcohol at Cardamom, but hey…it would seem like such a travesty!
Brickworks Centre, 3/3 Brolga Ave, Southport Ph: 0424 251 008 Open daily 7:30am – 4:30pm
You’ll find a full article about vegetarian and vegan restaurants here.