I have always wanted to go to Lentil as Anything since I first heard about it many years ago. I got my chance when in St Kilda Melbourne about a year ago. Hearing there was a new branch opening in Newtown Sydney, I was there. Big Bear and I went there mid-week. This isn’t your average place to eat. The most distinguishing feature is that there are no prices. You don’t get handed a menu with the price of what each item is. You can literally go in, eat and pay nothing. Alternatively, you could pay $50. You choose! There is a ‘contribution box’, however, so the ethos of the place isn’t really ‘come in here to get a free feed’. It’s a really interesting concept and I won’t go into the debate about how they can keep running financially after all these years, but the place definitely attracts a crowd for it not to be in perpetual bankruptcy.
So we were counting the numbers along King Street and kind of walked right past it and looked at each other in confusion. At this point I wondered whether I dragged Big Bear to yet another one of my odd, must-try-restaurants-because-it-sounded-really-cool-but-I’m-not-sure-if-it’s-real-cause-the-website-hasn’t-been-updated-in-a-while, the-phone-is-disconnected-or-it-just-doesn’t-exist. The signage isn’t obvious so keep your eyes peeled. It’s fairly centrally located in Newtown, a short 10 minute walk up from Newtown station. All that said, it has very very recently changed address, so maybe you will have more luck that me.
I have to give you a warning though in terms of what to ambience you should expect. If you want a ‘quiet night’ or ‘romantic dinner with the partner’ choose somewhere else. Or, on a different point, if you’re not happy to go vegetarian or vegan for the night your choices will be a significantly if not completely limited. On the contrary, if you are happy to shuffle onto different seats at different stages of the night to make room for extra people, aren’t too socially awkward to turn strangers into acquaintances, and don’t mind getting all cosy with others, this is the place for you! 100% community oriented so just breathe it in.
So once we actually found the place and were informed outside to wait to be seated, we walked into a loud, buzzing and almost full to the brim room. At 6.30pm it was nearly at capacity. We received some water and warm spiced chai on arrival and were told about the menu for the night. 3 items – a burger, moussaka or curry. The chai was lovely. The first sip gives a great flavour and then you’re hit with a strong punch of cinnamon and cumin.
The menu is slightly different every night. I would recommend following their Facebook page for updates on the latest. Some dishes you might be lucky enough to sample:
- Baked sweet potato gnocchi with green vegetable and pesto salad
- Chunky silverbeet, chickpea and tomato curry with rice pear chutney and poppadums
- Pumpkin and green bean tagine with apple and shallot infused cous cous
- Warm organic quinoa wombok salad with sprouts, nori and sesame served with a tahini and miso dressing
- Sliced apple topped vanilla cake with ginger caramel sauce
From the choices, Big Bear had the open lentil burger with hand cut chips and pickled vegetables and I had the lightly spiced pumpkin and tomato moussaka with mixed grain garlic bread. In the meantime, Big Bear was off making friends with people he’d just met and we both enjoyed the music of a live and loud duo hitting up some acoustic tunes, who I found out to be known as the ‘Investment Buskers’. I think at this stage we also had to move at least once to make some more room on our table for others who showed up.
The meals arrived rather quickly. Big Bear said the wedges were hand cut, cooked wonderfully and seasoned well. The burger itself was nice but more of a half burger since it was a pattie sitting on one piece of bread! The nature of the pattie being fairly crumbly made it somewhat difficult to eat. But the taste was great and it came with a tomato salsa on top which blended well with the burger. The pickled vegetables were basically a coleslaw. Portion size was good and it didn’t detract from the rest of the dish. Overall, he said it was a good portion size and the food was definitely of quality right down to presentation.
The moussaka presented really nice as well with bases of pumpkin, tomato and eggplant. Flavour was a little bit lacking however (a sentiment I think shared with a fellow patron who ordered the moussaka and asked for the salt) but the meal was filling. Half of my bread was unusually burnt as well.
Service was great. All the waiters and waitresses were really nice and didn’t mind stopping and having a chat. The clientele is also a spectacle in itself. Hipsters…hipsters everywhere…You gotta see it to believe it!
The slide downside to the night was that I was hoping for some dessert. The menu posted onto their Facebook page earlier in the week spoke of delicious coconut rice pudding with caramel sauce. But they were out!!! *Sad face* I’ll need to come back to sample a bit more of the menu I feel.
Pay as you please. Communal. Hippie. Newtown as its finest.
391 King Street, Newtown, NSW, 2042
12.00-3.00pm Lunch and 6.00-9.00pm Dinner
02 8283 5580
Want to volunteer? Email email@example.com