Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Greenhouse by Joost: where sustainable practice and living meets the urban environment

Designer, horticulturalist and eco-friendly pop-up restaurateur extraordinaire, Joost Bakker has chosen Campbells Cove on glorious Sydney Harbour as the Sydney location for his ground-breaking venue.
Joost Bakker speaking at the Greenhouse launch
This eco-friendly restaurant is built using 100% recycled and recyclable materials. Think shipping containers and packing crates with straw bales for insulation. All furniture, light fittings, crockery, glasses and staff uniforms are also made from recycled and recyclable materials. It gets better … water is collected, waste is recycled and the generator runs on cooking oil.

First impressions are intriguing – shipping crates, strawberries growing up the exterior walls, herbs growing on the roof and a white walled interior covered with menu written in graffiti style, apparently by Joost, and completed in one night. Is there no end to this man’s talent?

I was delighted to officiate as MC at the launch and finally I got back there last week to see the venue completed and try the whole experience.
Greenhouse by Joost’s exterior during construction.
Now the outside is covered with strawberry plants.

The staff are lovely, from the gorgeous multi-talented maître’d (industrial designer by day and member of Joost’s hospitality team by night) and the cornucopia of friendly young’uns working the floor to the über chef-of-the-moment, Matt Stone, formerly of the Greenhouse in Perth.

Matt’s menu is short but well-crafted with a workable assortment of snacks, salads and bigger offerings. Many of the components – bread, pastries, pizza, yoghurt and butter – are made on site. The drinks list is also short with one red, one white, one beer and one cider for those who fancy the hard staff. All are served in glass jars.

The food presentation was as much fun as the venue, served either on pieces of recycled plywood or in wide-necked glass jars.

I loved the Wagyu on romesco, especially as it was a little used cut, girello – perfectly cooked beef (grass-fed of course) served sliced on a well-textured romesco sauce heady with smoked paprika. Mint added a lovely freshness to the quinoa and avocado salad. Oysters sang with freshness, the spiced cauliflower in a paper cone left me wanting more, the deep-fried school prawns were hot and crisp and you can’t go past the pizza of the day from the wood-fired oven.

Greenhouse by Joost’s interior.
The tables are made from old signs.

If you are a Sydneysider, my advice is get down there! This is a totally new concept which works because the food is so good. It’s an alternate view of the world and how we can co-exist sustainably. The bonus is the million dollar view and the soundtrack of water ebbing and flowing against the harbour wall. Go knowing you are learning vicariously how to make better food choices while, if you are like me, being equally thrilled by Joost’s flair and vision.

Greenhouse by Joost is open until the end of March 2011.