Orka is a wellness-themed restaurant that serves both vegan and non-vegan food. This is fantastic – non-meat-eaters and carnivores like myself can enjoy a meal together without compromising. If requested, 90% of the dishes can be made plant based. Also, most of their produce is locally sourced. For instance, they use Magic Organics for some of the vegetables.
Located at the bottom of Wyndham Street, Orka is a welcome addition to the Central dining scene. It’s a vibrant space that’s suitable for every occasion – date, family meal or quick coffee after walking the dog. Yes, it’s dog friendly, people! On the night we visited, the atmosphere was buzzing.
We tried the two-course executive set dinner menu ($248/person).
Summer bang bang salad: zucchini noodles with seaweed, fresh herbs, nuts and seed crumble, dressed in a punchy lime dressing with sesame and avocado.
Scallops and bacon: sustainably sourced Australian scallops with smoked British bacon (from Wicks Farm in Sussex). These seared scallops are beautiful, slightly sweet and have a buttery flavour. This dish is accompanied by organic broccolini, pea purée (a classic pairing) and seaweed foam – the perfect starter.
Smoky linguine: organic local broccoli, shiitake mushroom, fiddlehead fern, smoked bacon and perilla-seed oil. If you break down this dish, the health benefits are incredible. For example, shiitake mushroom is high in vitamin B, which has a strong impact on energy levels, while broccoli is a good source of vitamin C, essential for tissue repair. Perilla-seed oil has a high proportion of omega 3 and is anti-inflammatory and good for the heart. I figure all of the above is reason enough to order this dish – plus, it tastes bloody amazing, so that’s a bonus.
Miso eggplant steak: grilled aubergine marinated in ginger, miso and low-GI yacon syrup with garlic breadcrumbs, salsa verde and edamame. Shredded banana blossom and sun-blushed tomato pesto add even more interest to this plant-based dish. I really enjoyed this eggplant, which is saying a lot (I’m not usually a fan of eggplant), and this is testament to Chef Burney’s creativity. The flavours running through each mouthful made me want more.
Chef Burney has hit the trifecta here at Orka – great food, an awesome atmosphere and brilliant service. In addition to the food menu that caters to just about everyone, they have an eco-conscious cocktail menu that’s just waiting to be sampled, and I will definitely be returning to try these tipples.
Orka Restaurant & Specialty Cafe
36 Wyndham Street, Central, 3489 1217
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed here represent the author’s.