Greenhouse by Joost is the latest pop-up restaurant to hit Sydney, an eco-friendly vision that doubles as a unique interactive art installation.
The converted shipping container looks right at home in Campbell Cove, its facade painted with butterflies and children. The entrance on the side is covered with miniature strawberry pots.
Melbourned-based Dutch artist Joost Bakker had always dreamed of creating a waste-free restaurant. The Greenhouse Sydney follows on from earlier prototypes in Melbourne and Perth.
The commitment to waste-free commences with suppliers. All fresh produce and milk must be delivered in returnable containers. Wheat bags are opened with care so they can be sent back to the local farmer for re-use. An onsite flour mill is used to grind the wheat into flour for bread and pizza. Every scrap from the kitchen is composted and used on the rooftop herb garden.
The building was completed in just three weeks, using a $300,000 funding grant by the NSW Government.
Inside the Greenhouse by Joost
The chairs - designed by Joost - have been constructed from aluminium irrigation pipes covered in leather offcuts from a saddle-maker in Ballarat, Victoria. Old conveyor belts were recycled to make the floor.
Sheets of magnesium oxide board have been used for the interior walls, soaked with Bio-Char so carbon is absorbed by the walls themselves. Every surface of the wall has been scrawled over with key words and catchphrases in black paint, a little confronting at first, but deliberately thought-provoking.
The dining room is designed primarily for pairs, so our group of five ended up waiting forty minutes for a table on Friday evening.
Chorizo, fried bread, roasted peppers and egg $17
The food is not cheap but then again, your conscience says, neither is the environment. Young gun Matt Stone, winner of the 2011 Gourmet Traveller Award for Best New Talent, heads the kitchen. His menu is brief and simple, arriving in glass jars or on thin planks of plywood.
Illuminated only by a frail tealight and the street lights outside, dinner is a romantic affair, particularly with views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House showcased through the open cut walls. It's hard enough to see what we're eating, let alone photograph it. Ahh thank you for the torch setting on iPhone 4.
Fried spiced cauliflower $9; Wood roasted baby carrots, beetroots, pistachio $16;
The pizza is light and airy, stretchy with molten cheese and liberally dusted with semolina. We find the wagyu disappointingly overcooked and chewy, although the baby leek on the bottom is deliciously sweet and caramelised.
Seared mullet is a surprise highlight, soft and flavoursome with a skin that has been pan-fried until deliciously crisp. We forage through a forest of coriander leaves to find exquisite wood-roasted baby carrots, chunks of beetroot and crunchy pistachio kernels.
Fried spiced cauliflower is deliriously addictive, wrapped in a cone of newspaper and wedged into a jar. As we dig our plantation timber forks into a jar of seared chorizo, croutons and runny egg, I admit I do have a Zoolander flashback to Derelicte.
Plantation timber cutlery that will be composted after use
Roof top bar
Earlier on, we'd climbed the two flights of stairs to the roof top bar, offering one of Sydney's best drinking views of the harbour.
All drinks are delivered in kegs, with beer poured on tap into glasses made from old wine bottles; even the moscato comes in hot pink barrels, served in glass jars that have become de rigeur.
Pipsqueak cider $6 and moscato $9
A mandatory toilet stop will lead you into the unisex bathrooms. When the toilet is flushed, the water first flows through a tap and sink on top of the cistern, a set-up you'll sometimes find in Japan. The water continues flowing until the cistern is full for the next flush, quite a long length of time that reminds you how much water is used in modern toilets.
View of the Opera House from the Greenhouse rooftop bar
Inspiring, thought-provoking and ingenious, get to the Greenhouse before it closes at the end of March 2011.
Natural Selection Theory live natural wine
The dining room
View of the Sydney Harbour Bridge
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2/21/2011 02:40:00 a.m.