So much more than a raw deal

Hedonistic yet healthy: O Bar and Dining's Hot spiced pastrami with smoked tomatoes, pickles, and mustard.
Hedonistic yet healthy: O Bar and Dining's Hot spiced pastrami with smoked tomatoes, pickles, and mustard. Photo: Steven Siewert

O Bar and Dining

Level 47 Australia Square, 264 George St, Sydney, 9247 9777

A diabetes diagnosis gave chef Michael Moore pause for thought and saw him relaunch the Summit in September last year with a new philosophy: to offer food he describes as ''hedonistic yet healthy''. The menu emphasises interesting grains and vegetables both in their own right and playing strong support roles for animal protein including sustainable seafood and pasture-raised beef. Desserts lean towards the fruity, dairy is frequently yoghurt or nut-based while petits fours are nutty, grainy or very dark chocolatey.

Kitchen by Mike

85 Dunning Avenue, Rosebery, 9045 0910

Homemade: Cornersmith in Marrickville produces a variety of healthy items including pickled fruits and vegetables.
Homemade: Cornersmith in Marrickville produces a variety of healthy items including pickled fruits and vegetables. Photo: Steven Siewert

If focusing on the freshest produce and making everything from scratch equals healthy then this cavernous industrial cafeteria measures up. Menus change constantly depending on what lands at market and salads constitute the biggest menu category. Although it doesn't shout any health claims from the rooftops, all those vegetables, grains and housemade everything seem like a good start - even if you do end up choosing eggs benedict followed by meringues.

Cornersmith

314 Illawarra Road, Marrickville 8065 0844

The easiest option for those on the hunt for healthy in this strip of Marrickville is pho, the sustaining clear Vietnamese noodle soup, served almost everywhere around here. But when that's not going to scratch the itch this cute wedge of a cafe will definitely do it. The menu features vegetables grown either on the roof garden or brought in by local customers as donations or swapped for a coffee or housemade pickles. Cornersmith even makes its own feta and ricotta, and honey comes from their own rooftop hives. Pork is pasture-raised and most mains are leavened with loads of greens.

Bloom

The Healthy Food Co, 118 Prince Albert Street, Mosman, 9960 1761

Never mind the name, the filtered water and wooden wheelbarrow out the front could be new age code for a natural approach to food. Speaking of which, most menu items are coded for their organic, wheat, gluten, dairy, vegetarian and vegan status and everything except bread is made in house. Juices and smoothies are listed with therapeutic claims - ''detox'', ''immune booster'', ''muscle builder'' - and even items like nachos and beans are served with organic linseed corn chips. They cut back on salt by using lots of fresh herbs, don't deep fry, and favour sustainable food production methods and local produce. They even "cook with love".

Sadhana Kitchen

76A Wilford Street, Newtown 9516 1334

Although following the raw food philosophy, this little cafe is prepared to make occasional exceptions in winter. Pumpkin and potato are cooked for salads, though the orange fruit still appears uncooked and dehydrated on the dedicated raw menu. Otherwise Sadhana, which is attached to a yoga studio, serves exclusively vegan, organic and gluten free food. Seeds and nuts add substance and they serve tacos with walnut mince and house fermented sour cream. Just a few grains such as polenta and brown rice appear and they make ''cauliflower rice'' with the brassica, garlic, salt and coconut.

The Suveran

244 Oxford Street, Bondi Junction 9369 4040

Read the list of exclusions on this cafe menu and it's fair to ask what it actually serves. Off the list are sugar, dairy, flour, gluten, wheat, yeast, grain, soy, egg, legumes, tap water and plants from the nightshade family. Even without the categorical repetition that's a fair bit they don't touch. The top listed dish is crap, which they claim is ''crepe'' with a German accent, and there's plenty of variation on that theme. All the crap is made with sprouted millet and chia seeds but there's also ''stu'', ''soop'', and ''salud''. Everything's either certified organic or ''wild crafted'', which they say is grown wild and therefore impossible to certify, and their ''wellness water'' is alkalised.

Agape

1385 Botany Road, Botany 8668 5777

This place looks like any other sophisticated contemporary restaurant, the decor running to stone tones and chandeliers rather than wooden wheelbarrows and rainbow flags. There's little on the menu to state its healthy intent other than every category from tapas to spelt pizzas to sweets being declared organic. Ancient grains - spelt, amaranth and quinoa - get a workout, as do animal proteins, dairy and sugar. Peanut butter and chocolate pizza with vanilla ice-cream and cashew nut praline, anyone?

Nourishing Quarter

315 Cleveland Street, Redfern 8399 0888

The marketing of this Asian restaurant with a strong Vietnamese accent doesn't labour the health angle despite the menu being entirely plant-based, largely organic and free of refined sugar. The owners fear dour associations with deprivation so focus on wit and humour while producing full-flavoured food. Classic rice-paper rolls are remodelled with chia seeds, quinoa, and kumara noodles and a sang choy bao is boofed up with fermented tofu, several mushroom types and a zesty lime chilli dressing. Dumplings are vegie-packed.

Fat Panda

233c Canley Vale Road, Canley Heights 9755 4888

The Japanese are titans when it comes to life expectancy, a fact helped by their clean, fishy diet. With judicious ordering most Japanese places can be healthy and this modern, multi-purpose place is no exception. There's a sushi train down the back, a teppanyaki grill and an a la carte menu with Japanese cuisine's greatest hits. Supple salmon sashimi and seaweed salad would get the blessing of the health gods as would mixed carpaccio with ponzu dressing. Word is they do a brilliant creme brulee too.