Grown is the restaurant you drag your omnivore friends to kicking and screaming, but by the time the last dessert spoon is licked clean, they are singing prayers for vegan cuisine. Veganism and West End go together like buckwheat spirals and nutty pesto, so it was a no brainer for “coffee commander” Sacha Muchall to open plant-based dining shrine Grown in the 4101, a stone’s throw from the Brisbane River.
“People don’t expect vegan food to be progressive and flavoursome, and I want to challenge that,” said the former owner of U&I Espresso in Ashgrove. Sacha combined years of experience managing restaurants with an innovative and personal passion for vegan dining to create the timber and tile eatery that fronts Buchanan Street. “I transitioned to a vegan lifestyle a couple of years ago after watching documentaries on the impact of our food choices on the environment, as well as a growing desire to help with issues of animal welfare.” Stepping into the brightly lit bistro, the organic grandeur is big and bold. Think open kitchens, with fresh wooden stations on all sides, backdropped by walls covered in bright emerald tiles. The espresso machine is grinding the house blend by Wynnum’s Dramanti Artisan Roaster, while single origin and filter offerings showcase a myriad of roasters closer to home.
For a bistro with an ambitious goal — “to become Australia’s best vegan venue” — Grown has a comparatively humble approach. This is not an elitist restaurant quoting jargon requiring a sneaky under-the-table Google search to make sense of the menus finest; these dishes are designed to encourage diehard carnivores to make the occasional jump over the fence to greener pastures. “Grown is the culmination of my best intentions — quality specialty coffee paired with amazing seasonal produce in an environment where everyone is welcome. Vegan dishes are stereotyped as plain and uninteresting but this perception doesn’t consider the thousands of varieties of edible plants and numerous cooking techniques that can be used in the kitchen.”
Expect innovation, with tasting menu style delicacies ranging from creamy polenta, pan-fried zucchini with caramelised celeriac puree, housemade hash browns, and French toast with berries and pepper icecream. The philosophy here is simple: the vegan experience is more than just eating good food, but eating responsibly, and sustainably. “It is my hope that Grown can provide more than just good quality food to Brisbane, but to give back and support the community through our consideration of where to source our produce as well as how to dispose of it.”
This has led to partnerships with Food Connect, sourcing local ingredients, and Jane Street Community Garden, a volunteer run program that turns food scraps into compost for local crops. “We aim to work with as many ethical and transparent suppliers as possible, to ensure that our menu supports sustainable and fair food systems.” Now hosting regular dinner degustation events, and boasting a carefully curated vegan wine and craft beer list, Grown is a Brisbane bucket list destination — for herbivores, carnivores and all-ivores alike.
Readers also enjoyed this article about future food programs in Brisbane.