Our expat writer Tinju Thomas is back to share his review of Lentil As Anything restaurant in Newtown, Sydney. You might remember when Tinju shared an epic review of the best coffee in Sydney recently! As a foodie, he’s now sharing a review of the famous Newtown restaurant, Lentil As Anything. It’s also one of our favourite places to eat in Sydney too!
Make sure you follow Tinju’s adventures around Sydney as an Indian expat from the beautiful Kerala in Southern India, on Instagram at @thomas.tinju
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What Makes Lentil As Anything Special
Amidst all the hustle and bustle, I have always found that Sydney has various socially responsible establishments focused on giving back to the communtiy which makes us all the more happier to be a part of it.
One such haven, devoted to a good deed at the same time serving you a hearty meal nest in the heart of Newtown. Lentil As Anything is one of the most unique Sydney restaurants one can find in the beautiful city.
Expect no reservations, no price tags and no minimum spend, but only delicious feel-good feed.
With Lentil As Anything in Sydney being the fifth branch of the venture, the not-for-profit vegan chain began in St Kilda, Melbourne in the year 2000. It is the brainchild of Mr. Shanaka Fernando, an expat from Sri Lanka.
Anyone who walks in here can order anything off the menu and pay what you can, and what you think it’s worth. Pay as you feel is a beautiful concept but having it implemented and thriving across the country offering while purely vegan and scrumptious meals with no borders is truly commendable.
How To Get To Lentil As Anything
Lentil As Anything is on the very popular King Street, a three minute walk away from Newtown train station. Allowing plenty of light and air, the ambience inside is cosy and welcoming with ampley indoor and some outdoor seating.
Colourful interiors, smiling faces and a wall filled with photographs captured by volunteers, the restaurant are filled with good vibes. For a Saturday brunch time, the place had a lot of customers going in and out, however with an upstairs seating area available too, the restaurant can accommodate all sized crowds.
If there is a queue, you will not have to wait long. Although located right on one of the busiest streets, any and all distractions drown in conversations and light music.
What To Expect
Welcomed by one of the volunteers you can pick any seat and order anything you like off the menu of the day. The menu is ever-changing and you can check the menu up on the wall, or you can look at it ahead on the Instagram page ‘@menulentilnewtown‘ and everything is completely vegan.
The volunteer who attends to you will usually talk to you about any special juices or other drinks available. The only thing we do have to pay for here is the coffee and which is capped at $2 for any drink, still making it the cheapest barista-made cup in Sydney.
We ordered two dishes, the juice of the day and a coffee. The first dish among the two was the signature dish from the franchise, Dahl with Rice, salad and pappadum.
Being an expat from India myself, I can definitely vouch for this dahl and without a doubt say this is the closest-to-home dahl I have had at a restaurant in another country.
Lentils, rice, a bit of spice and everything nice is what makes this dish absolutely delicious!
The fresh juice is a mix of carrot and orange and both put together was a nutritious serve that leaves your stomach and heart filled. If you are in the mood for a cheat day meal, then pancakes are the way to go. The day I visited, they were topped with chocolate sauce and bananas. But often they serve them with apple and golden syrup or caramel sauce. These are again very soft, yummy pancakes that remind you of a Sunday brekkie at home.
With most of the ingredients sourced directly from the growers, the restaurant operates completely with the help of volunteers who do everything from cutting vegetables, serving food and driving their van.
All donations and payments go straight to the food expenses, rent and utilities and not to anyone’s pocket in particular at all. The restaurant truly is all about giving back to the community and if someone who dines here is unable to pay but still wants to contribute something then they can always offer their time as volunteers.
Any dish you have here will be covered by $15 and when you pay it forward, from $20 or more, that covers your meal and goes towards covering a meal for someone else not in the position to pay for their meal.
Open Space Event & Workshop
But food is not the only way that Lentil as Anything gives back to the community. The venue on its second floor has a non-profit event and workshop space to hold community events named ‘Open Space’.
People are welcome here to teach and learn from each other, share and try new things and connect with others. Everything is hosted and organised on a voluntary/donation basis to support the restaurant as well as to engage and enrich the community. This space is available for private hire and dining bookings too.
Other Ways To Support Lentil As Anything
Can’t Volunteer? You can still help! While dining in and donating is obviously the first point of contribution you can do for this organization, volunteering would be another level of commitment to the cause. But for those of you who cannot make time for volunteering, there are other ways to do your part.
The ‘Lentils Wishlist’ which is listed upon the colourful wall has everything the restaurant currently needs or could use more of, from cutleries to handymen. You can offer them your time, money or any other resource that would be useful for the place to serve its purpose. If not that you can still add value to what they offer by contributing a free book to the ‘Little Free Library’ at the venue. Take a book and leave a book is in my opinion the best way to share books and of course, that’s available here as well.
Overall Lentil as Anything is a kind soul for anyone in need, offering food, a community and also a way for anyone to take a step towards helping another without any borders.
Unique Environmentally Friendly Places To Visit in Newtown
Newtown has quite a unique vibe of its own as a community and the suburb stands out with many other establishments across King street. In running with the environmentally sustainable theme, when strolling down King Street, you be sure to check out Dr Earth, a family-owned and run business that offers natural, organic and sustainable products including superfoods, supplements, homewares and groceries.
Another very interesting store to visit is Elizabeth’s Bookshop in Newtown. This place grabbed my heart the very first time I visited Newtown with their novelty offering ‘Blind date with a book’. You get to buy a hand wrapped ‘new’ book, carefully picked from popular genres with intriguing notes about the storyline on the cover. If the clues attract the reader in you then it’s a surprise gift for yourself and indeed a blind date with a book!
Apart from the wide variety of stores, every weekend there pop-up markets in various locations around Newtown which offer a range of stalls offering food, books, homewares, plants and fashion. A visit to Newtown, the suburb of cool, hip and funky will always be an absolute treat.
A big thanks to Tinju for sharing his brilliant Lentil As Anything review and a few hidden gems in Newtown as well! If you would like to share restaurant reviews, places to visit or hidden gems around Australia, simply fill out our Write For Us form and we’ll get back to you asap!