On a perfect Sydney autumn afternoon, wandering the tree-lined streets in the back of Surry Hills, we happily stumbled upon Gratia Cafe, Sydney’s first ‘profit for purpose’ restaurant and café. We walked in to the bright, rustic space and even thought we turned up just a little before closing time, we were happily greeted by our waiter who showed us to a cute little courtyard garden.
I read the back of the menu, intrigued by the story of the genesis of this ‘profit for purpose’ enterprise. Something in those opening lines of being naïve, but driven to make the world a better place is always an easy way to speak to me, as in my ‘regular’ life I work as a closet corporate idealist – believing I can do good from the “dark side”! Places like this fascinate me and restore my faith in the world that there are people out there wanting to make things better for others!
We scoured the menu, and everything just looked so good we weren’t sure what to try first. But, with the expert guidance from our waiter, we quickly placed our order. The drinks arrive first, a bold flavoured Gabriel cappuccino nicely put together. The creamy, frothy top with its hint of chocolate, give way to the milky coffee, that was strong, but not bitter in taste. Fellow Coco and Viner, Steve our in-house chai latte connoisseur has already dived into his sticky chai latte, by the time I’ve taken my first sip. The chai had a more complex spice than he had experienced at other cafes, and the bold flavours were perfectly sweetened without the sickly sweetness you can get from the powdered varieties.
Timing was impeccable, as we both polished off our drinks, the food landed in front of us. With our servers’ guidance, we opted for the Fritter made with pumpkin and harissa. This was a fantastic combination of flavours with strong notes from the Mediterranean spices and harissa. Generous chunks of roasted pumpkin give this dish the right amount of sweetness and nicely round out this meal.
I’m big into de-constructed bowls at the moment, pulling together a medley of flavours and ingredients that you can savour on their own or mix all together. And the Gratia Garden Bowl does not disappoint. There was such a lush-ness to this edible garden, I half expected birds and wildlife to come pouring out of it! The colours were fantastic, evoking a warm, spring day and there was a lightness and freshness to the whole dish. The multi-grain crispbread was the perfect accompaniment to scoop up all the delicious goodness. Beneath the adorned season’s greens, beetroot and carrot, was delicious sauerkraut, soba noodles, avocado, and hearts of iceberg lettuce. Drizzled with a delightful tangy, yet nutty sesame dressing and a generous helping of pumpkin and sesame seeds, this garden definitely filled you up with zero guilt.
So if you want a great place that feels good for your soul as well as your tummy, head down to Gratia Cafe and you will keep coming back over and over….which is not a bad thing at all, especially when 100% of their profits go to those in need.