Review: Lentil As Anything, Sydney
Lentil As Anything is a vegetarian, not-for-profit restaurant in which there are no set prices, you pay what you feel is right and what you can afford. The underlying principle is those that can afford more will pay more to cover those less fortunate so they can still eat a wholesome meal. With four restaurants in Melbourne, they just recently opened a Sydney store in Newtown.
We arrived at Lentil As Anything at around 6pm on a Wednesday night (walked straight passed the first time because it is located inside the cafe, Cookies & Milk, who kindly lend out the cafe to Lentil As Anything at night) and it was already packed (opening hours are from 6pm to 9pm). We could already observe the chaotic nature of the business (which we did expect, having watched the SBS series "The Naked Lentil" which follows Lentil As Anything's struggles to keep afloat), when we arrived one waiter only remembered some of the dishes on offer (the menu is always changing but that night the selection was a vegetable laksa, lentil burger, pumpkin tagine and a cauliflower curry). After another waiter had taken our order, several others approached us to take our orders. The meals took a while to arrive, and when they did the waiter called out a name and we said that wasn't us, he went back to a kitchen and then said "Oh, it was for a Raj. Are you guys Raj?", we said no but noted what he was he holding was what we had ordered, so he told us we may as well have it. You can forgive the disorder knowing that most of the staff are volunteers. However, during that time not one staff member had explained to us the charitable nature and concept of Lentil As Anything. If we were customers that had walked straight off the street, then we would have no idea. I think they shouldn't just assume everyone knows the background story and explain it to their customers. Perhaps people will then be willing to pay more, knowing it was helping a greater cause.
Now, down to the food. I ordered the lentil burger, thinking lentils would be their specialty. However, I soon regretted it when I saw laksa that a few others had ordered. The laksa was definitely the best dish, a tasty (although could have been warmer), slightly spicy, creamy and hearty dish. My lentil burger was fine, but small and the chips served with it were soggy. The pumpkin tagine was also a generous portion (served with either rice or cous cous) and nice but nothing too special.
If you decide to check it out, I would recommend going close to the opening time (there was a line outside the door when we left), try the laksa and don’t expect your typical restaurant. It will probably be chaotic, your meal might take ages to arrive and may not be masterchef quality. But hopefully your business will help Lentil As Anything help those that need it.