The Three Feed – Ungaro Raw

Where three people review wholefood, organic and gluten free restaurants wherever and whenever they get hungry.

By Craig New

Ungaro Raw
656 Darling St, Rozelle, NSW 2039
Ph: 02 8964 9223

Angie Cowen (yogi), Nicole Walsh (yoga teacher) and Craig New (yoga studio manager) came together on a Wednesday morning for a not quite breakfast, not quite brunch. This is their story.

Nicole & AngieWe live in a misleading world. The sexy woman you’re flirting with on a date site might turn out to be an overweight man. The unlabeled “fresh” fruit you purchase from the supermarket might turn out to be genetically modified. The raw cafe you go to for breakfast might turn out to have very little raw food on the menu.

To be fair, Ungaro Raw doesn’t specifically claim to be exclusively raw. The cover sheet of their menu does make a big deal about serving organic, raw food and its associated benefits, but when you look at the menu, less than half of the offerings are actually raw, and virtually none of them available for breakfast. In a very unscientific and casual poll I’ve conducted around students and staff at the yoga studio I work at in the area, I found that most people automatically assume – mostly from the name of the store alone – that it is a raw, vegan cafe (along the lines of Earth To Table, for instance). A couple have been very disappointed and vowed not to go back, which I think is a shame considering the cafe has quite a lot to offer. It does go to show how important trust is when building a brand and the story around it.

While not everything inside is raw, the food is clean, healthy and presented incredibly beautifully. There is a pretty large range of options on the menu, which is fairly unusual for an organic style cafe. The background stats: Himalayan crystal salt and extra virgin olive oil is used. For shallow fry foods the oil is a blend of coconut and olive oil.

Vegan breakfastWe ordered a Vegan Breakfast ($18), a Roasted Beetroot Salad ($14), the Soup of the Day ($12) and a chia pudding ($12). The girls had juices ($6.50) and I of course had a chocolate green smoothie ($7.50). The salad and soup were not normally available at the time of day we ate (we were about an hour early for start of lunch), but Angie has a way of convincing people to do what she wants. (Plus, the staff were lovely and very accommodating.)

The Vegan Breakfast was a very standard, farm-style breakfast: home-made baked beans, mushrooms, large slices of tomato, spinach (cooked in loads of oil, but seemingly a good oil as they went down a treat), and avocado (which came on the side for some reason – I’m still not sure if the breakfast came with that or if Angie just ordered it separately). None of us being vegan, we also ordered poached eggs on the side. The meal was simple but not at all exciting – the downsides were the toast, which was from a sliced loaf rather than a nice sourdough, and the mushrooms which didn’t seem very fresh. The baked beans were the surprise highlight though, with Nicole claiming them to be the best part of the entire breakfast. They had a spicy salsa flavour to them and we all found ourselves piling them onto each fork in combination with anything else.

The salad was a ring in that you might not normally be able to order so early in the day. I didn’t partake thanks to my ongoing war against beetroot (except when it comes in cake, waving its peace flag), but the girls enjoyed it. It was a beautiful mountain of beetroot, spinach, chickpeas and yoghurt dressing, topped with a cap of beetroot and cumin dip. Nicole tried to convince me it the topping was so delicious I wouldn’t even notice the beetroot, but I didn’t believe her. Angie thought the salad was very simple, had well cooked chickpeas – so again, not entirely raw – and was delicious.

Bean SoupOnto the soup, which was a bean and vegetable soup. This was interesting. Angie and Nic both tried it before me and were both disappointed, mainly from the lack of flavour. I disagreed however – the flavour was very subtle, but it was there and perfect. It certainly wasn’t on a level with the baked beans, but for a nourishing soup I thought it did what it came to do. And like all good soups, the flavour was building over the meal Later, both girls agreed that the soup was nicer as they gave it a chance and let it push its point across. For me, I think it was the underdog highlight of the meal.

Chia PuddingI’m not a fan of filling my mouth with gooey, slimey-textured food and so I eschewed the chia pudding as well, but Angie loved it. She said it was very light and gave the impression of hydrating – it would be perfect on a hot summer day when you didn’t feel like eating anything. She began by saying she would never eat a whole one and proceeded to do almost exactly that. “It just feels beautiful going down,” she said and Nicole, who managed to get a bit before she had to leave for a meeting, agreed.

Juice & SmoothiesThe juices and smoothie came in the now industry standard glass jars, and although my smoothie was delicious, it hardly had any chocolate in it. This was probably a good thing, as the base of the smoothie was kale, spinach, banana and lemon, and too much cacao would have made it taste terrible. But now we’re back to expectations; because it said “Chocolate” on the menu, I expected – and wanted – a strong chocolate taste. Even if that meant it tasted bad! This seems crazy, but either I am that addicted to chocolate (highly possible) or it’s another example of the psychology of unmet expectations. I genuinely would have preferred a bad tasting smoothie that oozed chocolate than the delicious green smoothie that offered up only a hint. I also would have simply loved the smoothie on its own merits if it didn’t boast cacao as an ingredient.

Raw Salty Caramel TartAs always, even at breakfast we had to finish with dessert. Nicole was running out the door so Angie ordered a Raw Salty Caramel tart  ($8) and I went with the old favourite Chocolate Brownie ($6). Desserts are raw and supplied by Addiction Foods. I once had a brownie of theirs and was sorely disappointed, but it could have been an anomaly as this one was delicious. Both came nicely presented on long plates with berry coulis and blueberries artfully splashed across the side. The tart wasn’t too caramelly (which is a good thing in my books), but very sweet (also a good thing), and I had to refrain from eating most of Angie’s as well as all of mine.

After the meal Angie had a quick chat with the head chef Joe. He’s got a background of over 30 years of cooking, interestingly enough mostly with meat. Before Ungaro Raw he was working at a rehab kitchen where he learned to do wondrous things with recipes to allow for the huge amount of intolerances that needed catering for. They constantly change their menu, but always with a focus on creating unique, tasty, nutritional food.

The only thing that really let this visit down was our expectation, which is a shame. Ungaro Raw could put less emphasis on the “raw” and more emphasis on what they actually do in spades, which is simple, nourishing, clean food that goes down well and still feels good a few hours later. Should they do this, it wouldn’t be a surprise to find a handful of raw options on the menu anyway. I’d definitely go back, next time knowing what to expect.

Gluten free rating – plenty of options
Dairy free rating – excellent
Deliciousness rating – good
Warm and nurturing space – very good

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