Healthy food that tastes incredible too? Say it isn't so. At Concrete Jungle Scottish born chef Bryan O'Callaghan plays with nutrient rich ingredients to create exquisite dishes that delight the palate too. And did I mention how pretty they are too? Instagram is going nuts over these colourful creations!
If you stalk Instagram breakfasts chances are you've seen Bryan's work posted several times. He's the chef that created Harry's famous hotcakes, the beautiful fruit and flower strewn pancake that stole Instagram's heart.
Bryan emigrated from Scotland to Australia in 1994 but he didn't start cheffing until he was 27. His longest stint was a decade long one at The Tilbury in Woolloomolloo. His former career was that of a graphic designer and you can assume that it is the love of colour and shapes that informs his swoon worthy dishes. "Some nights I just cook with one colour or one shape," says the softly spoken chef. He is a vegan at home but not at work as he tastes all the dishes.
He left Harry's a month ago when he was lured by Concrete Jungle's owner Moe Mrad. I'm visiting with Shakti who got to know Byran through their mutual love of healthy food. He explains that a lot of food here is purple, blue, green and pink and that it is probably no coincidence that they're high frequency colours and associated with higher chakras. I have to ask Shakti to explain chakras to me.
I sip on a hot sticky chai latte with coconut milk just because I've never tried one with it before. It works quite well indeed with a lovely spicy blend with a hint of honey sweetness.
The house smoked salmon comes as sashimi slices of salmon with a sous vide runny centered egg, sweet potato crisps, avocado puree, compressed apple, mustard leaves and cashew cheese. It's a lovely clean tasting dish that is healthy but never feels punishing. It doesn't even need the poached egg really.
The next dish is thin slices of wagyu breseola with poached eggs, roasted broccolini, leek and kale with green tahini. We get some slices of bread with butter to go with these and I love the saltiness of the breseola and the sweet caramelised vegetables.
Originally Bryan wasn't going to put the ricotta hotcake on the menu but Moe convinced him to do it. It's that same gorgeous, light and fluffy ricotta hot cake just as pretty as it was from Harry's where Bryan created it. It's rich in ricotta and comes with a scoop of blueberry cream cheese that takes like cheesecake. On top there is a sprinkle of fresh fruit and flowers. It's light as a feather-heaven!
Have you ever heard of Black Majik? Shakti explains that it's like the 2017 version of spirulina. It's blue algae powder blended with bananas and blueberries, blackberries and it is topped with coconut flakes and crunchy buckwheat. Shakti explains that you need to activate salivary glands and that's the purpose of adding an item like buckwheat to a smoothie bowl. Despite the fact that it is quickly approaching winter, I really enjoy spooning this smoothie bowl especially with the crunchy wheat berry topping. And who knew that I was doing myself good too?
I was so impressed by the food that I returned a couple of days later with healthy eater Nina. She's not used to having so much choice and we dither between a few dishes before deciding to order a lot so she can take some home for dinner that evening.
We start with a Supergreen smoothie made with matcha, kale, banana, mnango, lime and almond milk with coconut flakes on top. It doesn't taste too green with kale or strong in matcha, the predominant flavour being banana.
I have to admit that nourish bowls don't really appeal to me very much in terms of taste. While they look colourful I find them a bit too much of a mish mash of flavours. But this one is actually delicious. On one side is beetroot hummus and the other side with sauteed kale, avocado, roasted pumpkin (a replacement for a hasselback sweet potato), quinoa with a tahini and tamari dressing. You can get egg added to this or salmon but we have it as it is.
The almond tofu is a soft mild flavoured almond milk tofu paired with edamame, peas, shallots, asparagus, shoots and buckwheat. While the tofu is all soft and gelatinous the accompaniments give this dish flavour and texture.
I was eager to try the grass fed sirloin with caramelised cacao roasted cauliflower florets (yum!), king brown mushroom (yum!) and chestnut crisps (yum!) as well as a smooth cauliflower puree (also yum!) on the base and crunchy kale. The sirloin is cut into four pieces and is tender while the vegetables are pure umami. The smooth puree brings this whole dish together.
And for dessert I have to order the dragonfruit chia pudding as I saw it as I was leaving the other day. It comes with cubes of pink dragonfruit, coconut yogurt, plumped up chia seeds and a side dish of delicious house made granola made of crunchy buckwheat, cranberries, seeds and coconut. The granola is so addictive I think I'd buy it by the bag if they sold it and the chia pudding is comfortingly soft with just the right amount of sweetness. And then Nina and I plan our next visit soon!
So tell me Dear Reader, are you well versed in chakras? Do you have a favourite or particular colour that resonates with you? And which dish appealed to you the most?
This meal was independently paid for.
58 Kensington St, Chippendale, NSW 2008
Tel: 0449 771 081
Open Monday–Friday 7am–3pm, Saturday-Sunday 7am–4pm