Food with a conscience

23:01, Sep 26 2012
Herb Centre
The Herb Centre serves a particularly good lunch.

We hunted out inspiring, healthy-ish lunches around town. 

The Herb Centre Café, 223 Kilmore St - 4½ stars
This little green oasis on the edge of the city centre offers food that is both wholesome and tempting. The gluten-free vegetable tortilla stack ($14.50) was a work of art, layered with pumpkin, kumara, spinach and feta, and served with five colourful salads. The brown-rice hunza pie and salad combo ($13.20) was as good as when we tasted it two years ago, and we recommend the superfood smoothie - a  nutritious cocktail of wheatgrass, berries, banana, ground almonds, chia seeds, spirulina and ginger. A worthy winner.     
Food 4.5/5
Service 4.5/5
Health factor 5/5

The Lotus-Heart Vegetarian Restaurant, 363 St Asaph St - 4 stars
In the temple-like setting of the Sri Chinmoy Centre, a range of worldly vegetarian fare caters for all types of dietary requirements, from gluten-free to onion and garlic-free diets. The vegan, gluten-free masala dosa ($14.90) arrived as a long potato masala filled crepe, with sides of dal and chutney. It was good, but the humming burger with veggie-nut patty and  uber-tasty fries ($13.90) was even better.
Food 4/5
Service 4/5
Health factor 4/5

The Addington Coffee Co-op, 297 Lincoln Rd, Addington - 3 stars
Known for its fair-trade coffee - roasted on site - and apparel, it's easy to see this is a café with a conscience. The breakfast menu boasted the most options, complemented by a cabinet full of lunchtimes snacks, from pies to salads. Eggs benedict ($15.50) and roast-chicken fettuccine with olives, sun-dried tomatoes and red onion ($14.50) filled our two tasters, although neither was blown away. The coffee was more impressive.
Food 3/5
Service 3/5
Health factor 3/5

Under The Red Verandah, cnr Tancred and Worcester streets, Linwood - 3 stars
Occupying a spot just metres from its pre-quake location, this café is just as busy as before it was forced to move. We were tempted by the specials: a honey-roasted pear, confit garlic and feta salad, with herbed balsamic vinaigrette and toasted ciabatta ($17.50), and a chemoula-rubbed pan-fried gurnard on potatoes, with an apple salad and minted yoghurt sauce ($24). The meals were made from fresh seasonal ingredients - organic and free-range where possible - and the results were flavoursome and creative.
Food 3.5/5
Service 2.5/5
Health factor 3/5

The Native Garden Café, Untouched World, 155 Roydvale Ave, Burnside - 3 stars
We headed to this café to dine on something organic. We were told all the meat is organic, and advised that the salad would probably be the most organic of the options. Carrot, coconut and coriander soup ($12.50) was a tasty light lunch, while the beef and cabernet pie, with peas and mash ($21.50), was hearty fare. The flavours were great, but the café was so busy we were seated in the shop and left to our own devices.
Food 3.5/5
Service 2/5
Health factor 3/5

Herb Centre
The vegetable tortilla stack was an easy winner. Packed with goodness and oh-so-flavoursome.