HRVST Vegan Restaurant and Bar

Healthy vegan food. Never have I in my wildest dreams would have imagined signing up for something like this and eventually coming out from the other end of the tunnel, convinced that this is a much needed subculture movement.

HRVST restaurant and bar located on the 5th floor of the OUE downtown gallery shares its space with Kilter Avenue, a gym that's driven by movement. In the big picture , the restaurant is a holistic extension of the healthy lifestyle concept - touting vegan food and beverages to both gym users and the general public alike.

If you are like me, obsessed with all things meaty, it would take more than a little convincing to make a conscious effort to visit the joint for a meal. But trust me on this one. An open mind and an adventurous palate can be pretty rewarding sometimes. This is one of those defining moments. 

The food menu offers a tight selection of appetisers, mains and desserts, some of which have additional classification of 'garlic-free' and 'onion-free' which may come in useful for those who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Each dish presenting a long list of components that not so much champion a single vegetable but rather to combine everything harmoniously in a wholesome manner. The Grilled Miso Eggplant with broccolini, onion puree and hazelnuts ($12) is curiously, for the lack of a better word, meaty and very substantial. The pre-sliced vegetable offers plenty of nooks and crannies for the nutty miso sauce to settle into while reaching illustrious caramelised heights when put over the grill. The King Oyster 'Scallop' ($12) is easy on the eyes and offers a multitude of textures on the plate in the form of spinach puree, baby carrot, corn, toasted hazelnuts followed by a light sprinkle of garlic snow. It follows through with its great ambitions with a little 'I'm so fancy' footwork. I say stick with the former.

Drinks at HRVST have a broader appeal. But here I am questioning, 'What are the challenges faced by a vegan cocktail bartender?'.  After a bit of digging, here's what I uncovered. First of all, there is the most obvious - having to exile honey, egg whites, and dairy products. Then there are the skeletons in the closet, alcohols which are honey-based or contain conventional sugars (goodbye Drambuie and Benedictine) and finally syrups and mixers that may contain gelatin, fish products and cochineal (red dye). It's tough work and a steep learning curve, with most cocktail components required to be made from scratch. And as I lifted the cocktail to my lips, I gathered a huge amount of respect for the team responsible.

My first foray into Vegan cocktails began with the refreshing Eye of the Thai-ger ($20) which marries tequila with lemongrass syrup, pineapple and lime juice with fresh Thai basil straight from the rooftop garden (managed by Citizen Farm). That little bit of chili padi adding some needed spice. Those with a sweet-tooth will come to love the Mandarin Ducks ($20) which combines rye whiskey, nanyang coffee, house made condensed mylk (which is made from soy milk solids), pinot noir and red tea foam. A stiff Lumberjack ($20) powered by whisky and house made stout reduction syrup is the most serious of the bunch, and one best kept for the end of a cruel day.

Where mains are concerned, you'll more hearty options with the inclusion of carbs targeted at more responsive recovery after a workout session. The Hay Salt baked celeriac with charred kale and tempura shimeiji ($22) is a good bet. It is plopped over onion puree and finished with a bit of vegetable jus and shaved shiitake mushrooms overhead for an additional hit of umami. Lemon zest laced fried kale work its magic in balancing out the fried elements. The Sourdough with nut glaze ($16) is delightful on its own but proves to be full on meal when topped with orange glazed tofu and pickled zucchini ribbons. Only for the lack of seasoning did I grapple to find favour with this dish. The most proasic of the lot is the Pumpkin Fettucine in Tomyum broth ($18). The inclusion of a large slab of pumpkin grilled expertly to bare notes reminiscent of meat, definitely allowing the dish to shine.

HRVST is a restaurant option that would never quite be at the tip of your tongue. Despite it's obvious dietary preferences, I implore you to give it a go. In the famous words of En Vogue, "Free you mind and the rest will follow". This is the sort of place you would want to visit on a weekday night for a guilt-free, casual catch up with a close friend, and what better way to meet on middle ground than to explore a concept less known? Looking past the food dilemma, the after-work venue knows its drinking audience, and they look pretty pleased to me.

6A Shenton Way
OUE Downtown Gallery
t: 6920 7500
Facebook: HRVST

Operating Hours:
Mon - Fri: 11 30 - 2 30pm; 5 30 - 10 30pm
Sat: 11am - 3pm
Sun: Closed

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