It all started with a group of friends, a handful of nutrition books and a collective desire to heal through food.

It all started with a group of friends, a handful of nutrition books and a collective desire to heal through food. Now Nourishing Quarter - barely in its second year - has attracted a serious cult following.

NQ is a vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurant dedicated to the wheat, gluten and dairy intolerant among us. But it’s also much more than that. The affable owner Lam Dinh (banker turned restaurateur, following his own health scare) describes his team’s work as contributing to the growing awareness about the importance of diet for general health and well-being. ‘We’re not about preaching’ he explains, ‘we’re about producing consistently high-quality, healthy and tasty food that’s accessible to all.’

While the menu may sound ambiguous (a ‘fusion of Latin American healing’ with ‘exotic Asian and Mediterranean soul foods’) the food here is exceptional. Ideal starters include the Sweet Angel Rice Paper Rolls ($13.50) or the steamed Pretty Dumplings ($12.50), followed by the mouth-watering Quinoa and Corn Fritters ($12.50). For mains, make sure you try a bowl of Warm Congee (loaded with fresh chilli, ginger, cabbage, and seasonal sprouts) and the phenomenal Quinoa Noodle Salad with crunchy tofu and sesame dressing ($16.50). For those on a break from the booze, the selection of Nature’s Energy Herbal Teas is worth a nod, especially the Green Japanese Tea with Cherry. Finish with their Chocolate and Raspberry Delight, and even the most avid meat-lover will leave completely satisfied.

When shared between two, the dishes are generous and rarely push the $20 mark. That’s very good, considering most of the ingredients would cost you a couple of limbs at your local health food store. Lam is dedicated to keeping his prices low: making healthy food affordable to everyone is a firm part of the NQ philosophy.

Finally, whether it’s the whacky décor or the mixed porcelain plates from Vinnies, the ready to drink coconuts or the (very) relaxed service, there’s nothing formal or polished about the Nourishing Quarter experience. But that’s the point, apparently. For Lam and his team, ‘it’s all about slowing down and coming together to share in a meal with one another.’

Photos: Alex Relic

Published on November 14, 2011 by Millie Churcher

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