Make friends with Greenhouse Asian Salads – the new Lane Cove eatery by Giovanni Pilu's former sous chef.
Josef Huber, who worked at the two-hatted Pilu At Freshwater for nearly five years, is going against the trend of running a burger bar and instead has opened a health-conscious eatery that's still fixated with flavour.
The venture was sparked by business partner and head chef Lanna Rawipa Wannawong, who worked with Huber at Kirribilli Kitchens, a pizzeria and steakhouse that he also owns. There, she produced simple yet standout Asian salads for staff meals. They were such a hit with the "fussy" chefs that "we decided to go ahead and share it with the public", says Huber. They plan to follow the Lane Cove Plaza eatery with outlets in North Sydney and the CBD.
"Going out for lunch all the time, we found a massive lack of healthy options," he says. "So we decided to go ahead and give people the real deal."
Don't expect "pre-made salads lying in the displays for hours losing all their goodness", though – the menu here is focused on cut-fresh ingredients and lively flavours and textures.
"If you ever eaten a fresh roasted nut, you know what I mean, you can't stop eating," he says. "So it's very important not just to cut all the salads and vegetables fresh, it's also indispensable to have all supporting ingredients done freshly every day."
If you think you're going to miss out on your meat at a salad-focused place, don't worry – you can bulk up your bowl of greens with lamb, chicken or prawns. And on the dietary flipside, most of the salads can be made vegan as well.
The Greenhouse No. 1 Salad with green tea noodles, radish and cashews ($13.50) has the zing of a coconut black sesame dressing, while the Vital B ($13.50) is loaded with green papaya, coconut flakes, black rice and a drizzle of sweet tamarind; the Miss Sunshine ($13.50), meanwhile, is a rice noodle salad with crushed peanuts, pineapple, onion and firepower from a hot chilli dressing. All three options are available with chicken or tofu.
There's also a wonton salad with chilli soy ($13.50), chilli lamb with black rice ($15.50), and super bowls with fruit and home-made coconut muesli ($12.50) that you can chase with a coconut-and-chia-seed super smoothie ($9.50). There are also drinks with flaxseed, pea protein, acai and all the other 'it' ingredients you could imagine appealing to someone on a health kick.
Huber doesn't want to appeal just to the diet-conscious, though. With Greenhouse Asian Salads, he hopes to offer an alternative to not-so-nourishing options out there.
"Everyone always talks about it, but no one does anything," he says. "And when I ask why, you always get the same answer 'that's what people want'. But I don't agree, I think 'they have no other choice', and this is what we want to change."
Open daily 10am-5pm.
Lane Cove Plaza, 11/123 Longueville Road, Lane Cove, instagram.com/greenhouseasiansalads