RESTAURANT REVIEW: Momo Wholefood Cafe

IF there was ever a time to stop and appreciate Earth's bounty, it's on a beautiful spring day. And there's hardly a better place to pay homage to the crops and animals raised in our region than at Momo Wholefood Cafe.

The Hunter Street cafe opened in mid-July under the guidance of Linda and Tenzin Lodue, the couple behind East Maitland's Momo Wholefood Cafe at Organic Feast.

Pause as you wander up the steps from the bustling street to take in the beautiful former bank flooded with sunlight accenting its columns and period cornices. Simple but understated touches of green (olive trees in pots, sweet native flower arrangements), wood tones, wicker lights and colourful art complete the welcoming vibe.

The fresh feeling is also reflected in Momo's menu, which proudly introduces its dishes as "using unrefined, fresh ingredients grown in clean, healthy soil". There's an emphasis on local produce (from within 100 kilometres where possible) and supporting organic and sustainable farming practices. Think open-range biodynamic eggs, herbs and honey from Paterson, organic fruit and vegetables from Chichester and free-range poultry from Tilligerry.

There are also plenty of house-made elements, be it ricotta, almond milk, cashew cheese or delicious Indian-style chai brewed traditionally with whole spices, black tea and Bonsoy.

You'll be sure to leave Momo feeling uplifted and definitely full. Pop in for brekkie for organic chia porridge; a veggie bowl with sauteed kale, marinated mushrooms, avocado, toasted nuts and green tahini sauce, or an egg and bacon roll "Momo-style" with free-range bacon, a poached egg, baby spinach, tomato relish and salsa verde on a sourdough roll.

Lunch follows with dishes such as a Momo's salad bowl (see the cabinet for the day's selection), daily blackboard specials, frittata, polenta bake, nachos and their famous vegan burger. It's made with a moreish and satisfying lentil and vegetable pattie served on a sourdough roll with earthy beetroot relish, salad, salsa verde and avocado, made all the better by the crunchy sweet potato chips on the side.

If the vegan burger is a Momo favourite, their signature Tibetan dumplings wouldn't be far behind. Filled with minced beef and herbs, or tofu and vegetables, the hearty morsels are served with dipping sauces and slaw.

Momo also offers an all-day menu perfect for sharing, including a smoked salmon board with ricotta, baby spinach, avocado, beetroot relish and sourdough; and a vegan board with cashew cheese, raw marinated mushrooms, baby spinach, avocado, beetroot relish and sourdough.

The only way a Momo meal is bettered is by the addition of a Momo drink, be it a Berry Coco Ice (frozen organic berries, banana, mint, coconut water), an Almond Cacao Smoothie (house-made almond milk, organic banana, raw cacao, agave) or a kombucha on tap.

What: Momo Wholefood Cafe.

Where: 227 Hunter Street, Newcastle, 49263310, facebook.com/momowholefood, Instagram @momowholefood.

Owners: Linda and Tenzin Lodue.

Hours: Monday to Saturday, 7.30am to 3pm.

Drinks: Coffee, tea, juices, milkshakes, smoothies, kombucha on tap, house-made chai.

Vegetarian: Plenty of options and lots for vegans and gluten-free eaters too.

Bottom line: Dishes range from $8 to $21. Drinks from $2.50.

Wheelchair access: Call ahead for wheelchair access can be arranged through a side door on Brown.

Do try: Vegan burger and Momo chai.

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