Heart & Soul Cafe Review
By Kym Staton
Tue 6th Dec, 2016
According to the ancient philosophy of ayurveda, if we eat the right foods in a favourable environment, it can nourish our mind, body and emotions, not just our body. We metabolise with all of our five senses and everything we hear, touch, see, taste and smell becomes part of us. Food becomes nectar, and every meal becomes healing and nurturing.
The team at Heart & Soul Cafe Cronulla have infused so much soul and heart into their offerings, that even a short visit there becomes an invigorating and inspiriting experience.
As I entered the warm ambience the deliciously lively cardamom and cinnamon chai fragrances enveloped me and the smiles of the friendly staff and upbeat acoustic vibes made me feel instantly relaxed and welcome. The natural polished timber chairs and tables (locally sourced) create a very earthly feel and many options – including a large communal table, but the generously padded bench seats with extra cushions were an irresistible and inviting choice.
Now for the best bit – the food! Heart & Soul do a fantastic and eclectic array of options from burgers to curries to salads for breakfast and lunch to suit every taste. A good portion of the menu are house made including the chai tea blend, the hand cut chips, muesli mix, banana bread, muffins, caramel slice and the flour-less super seed bread.
Heart & Soul were a finalist in the 2016 Savour Awards for Excellence in the specialty restaurant category, and its no surprise that they did so well with so many unique and creative items on the menu such as their kofta balls, tamali pie, cacao and peppermint smoothie, and matcha lattes. Just reading it had me salivating in anticipation, and I could have happily grabbed a fork and tried a bit of everything if given the chance. The majority of the menu is also vegan, gluten-free and refined sugar free, so they are really making an effort to accommodate those with food sensitivities and move with the times and the clean-eating conscious food movement.
After a fair bit of umming and yumming I chose the quinoa burger because it sounded hearty and although I’ve tried quinoa many ways I’ve never had it in a burger, so was curious to try it. My meal arrived in swift time, piping hot, topped with fresh alfalfa and with a cute basket of hand-cut house made fries on the side. The burger pattie was succulent and full of flavour. It had a delightfully satisfying even ‘meaty’ texture and a nutty slightly sweet taste and also a red colour which I guessed would be fresh beetroot added to the mix. These flavours harmonised well with the avocado sauce, greens and alfalfa. The hand-cut house made chips were a delight, a golden pile of gloriously crispy slices of heaven in a basket that tasted so good they could have been made by Radha, the lover of Krishna.
Although I don’t always eat dessert with lunch, with so many crazily delicious creations seemingly calling out to me from the glass cabinet I had to partake. I’ve been hankering to get onto the cocowhip train since spotting it on various facebook groups and instagram pages, so thought it was high time I gave it a whirl. Heart and Soul offer cocowhip in chocolate and vanilla and in various match ups with their other desserts like their caramel slice or muesli, so I opted for the vanilla with brownie. Cocowhip is unique among coconut based ice creams as it contains organic bio-fermented coconut powder for gut and intestinal health. Its also vegan, soy, refined sugar and dairy free so it has considerable nutritional value. One could expect it to taste strange but I was blown away with the sweetness and even after eating the whole large serving with brownie I didn’t have anything but a happy belly and a big smile on my face!
I was lucky enough to get to chat with the head chef Jose Paucar, whose passion for food is very evident. He glowed as he talked about his unique creations, and the large array of house-made dishes and items. “I love cooking because I love to see the smiles on people’s faces as they enjoy my food’, revealed Jose. Jose has been worked as a chef for fifteen years and has been vegan for the last ten.
I think a big part of the reason that this cafe produces such soulful and spirited food with a friendly atmosphere is that its owned and run by Govinda Valley Retreat – a non-profit organisation in Otford, one-and-a-half hours south from Sydney CBD where they do various yoga courses, and have volunteer ‘Wwoofers’ involved, which gives the cafe and retreat a community feel that permeates what they do. The Cafe and retreat managers are also involved with many aid initiatives such as Caring for Life charity who do great work for animal protection, environmental awareness and distribution of vegan and vegetarian food.
When I first went vegetarian twenty years ago I was was actually living in Cronulla at the time and the only veg options in the area were fruit juices, salad sandwiches (hold the meat and cheese) and maybe a dry, bland lentil burger if you were lucky. Times have certainly changed and Heart & Soul is ushering the food revolution in the south, with their healthy, mostly organic wholefood vegetarian and vegan food with a conscience. As someone who has lived strictly vegan for the last four years, and more recently gluten free and refined sugar I’m really excited to know of places like Heart & Soul where I have two many options.
With food like this, its no wonder that locals are taking advantage of it and exploring delicious new options that support and enhance their health and vitality. Heart and Soul is well worth a drive from other parts of Sydney and compliments a day trip to this gorgeous seaside town where you can explore all kinds of water sports, surf, swim, walk, shop or relax with a yoga class at their nearby Heart & Soul yoga school and be guaranteed of a healthy, divine, flavoursome, super healthy and satisfying meal at this wonderful cafe that will warm your soul and lift your heart.
Heart & Soul Cafe is located at 6/17 Gerrale St. Cronulla, three minutes walk from the train station and south cronulla beach. They are open seven days, 7am-5pm. Find out more about them on their facebook page and website