The Junction, true to its name, is a busy place, full of people coming and going, of cars headed in and out of town.
There’s a big shopping centre and plenty of stores surrounding it with mums and kids and old people and everyone going about their business.
But nestled snuggly on Glebe Road, almost cuddling up against the wall of Coles, is an old terraced house, steady and calm in its age and yet brimming with a fresh approach to living.
Pickled and Pressed, a cafe promoting a plant-based lifestyle, opened in September 2016 in a charming converted home from the early 1900s. Owners Alice Joy and Tibor Grubits had already established Living Joy – a “better way of life’ company – in 2012 that aims to demonstrate how people and the planet can flourish side-by-side through sustainable housing.
They decided to further this approach to encompass everyday living through wellness education programs and regular healthy eating. The ethos of Pickled and Pressed is that a plant-based diet benefits us with “more energy, lots of texture and flavour” and that it will “nourish in a fun, vibrant and delicious way”.
The menu reflects this philosophy, with fresh, seasonal ingredients, and as much made in-house as possible. The food is free from gluten, refined sugars, animal products and chemicals. The only exceptions to this rule are full cream milk for those who really can’t enjoy their latte without it, and ethically-sourced eggs, in case you needed some poachies to go with your all-day breakfast plate. But, with its marinated mushrooms, creamy avocado, roasted tomatoes, toasted tempeh, sourdough and salad, you probably won’t.
Behind the brick facade is a friendly, bright space with lots of nooks and crannies and plenty of tables (however, one or two could do with some stabilising). There is even a lovely north-facing courtyard which gets loads of sun and would be the perfect hideaway on a winter’s day.
Original aspects of the house still feature such as the old kitchen oven, letting the character and history of the building merge with the new occupants. The decor is light, sparse, but freshened with greenery.
The house specialty and one of the cornerstones of Pickled and Pressed is their cold-pressed juices. The commitment goes so far in that they have a premium Goodnature X1 juicer doing the handiwork, pumping out three flavours.
Thoughtfully, you can order a trio of juice samplers so you don’t have to choose just one: kale, silverbeet, mint, lemon, apple and celery; orange, carrot and turmeric; and beetroot, apple, carrot, ginger and celery. They all taste so very fresh, with no bitterness, and there is a balance between each ingredient so nothing overpowers. These are perfect tonics for a dose of nutrients and vitamins, especially as winter sets in.
And while the idea of plant-based food doesn’t at first seem warming, the dishes here are all comforting, nourishing and flavoursome.
Start with something from the all-day breakfast menu. A plate of magic mushrooms (not really, just a seasonal assortment) are sautéed in garlic and rosemary and amassed on two pieces of house-made activated five-grain sourdough, smeared with tangy cultured nut cheese. Sprinkles of sesame seeds add further nuttiness, cut through by the fresh garden salad - a lucky dip of greens, nuts, seeds and kraut. Additional roasted tomatoes provide colour and acidity.
For something a little sweeter, try the quinoa and buckwheat pancakes with banana, berries and maple syrup, or the house blended porridge with apple, rhubarb and berry compote.
Everything is so colourful and just oozes freshness. Even the hot drinks come in all shades of the rainbow. Of course there are the standard coffees, and they use the smooth and sweet Joy Blend, but if the mood takes you, dare to try a green matcha latte, a golden milk (turmeric, coconut oil and black pepper), a peppermint jaffa hot chocolate or even a beetroot latte. It’s zingy and invigorating, but I might leave the root vegetables out of my hot drinks from now on.
Lunch choices are compact, but interesting: a soup (today’s is sweet potato with ginger and cashew); a curry (sprouted mungbeans, lentils and pumpkin with quinoa and chutney); toasted toppers (nut cheese and dill pickle on toast); a couple of salads and a burger. That beautiful beetroot comes into play again and made into patties; otherwise opt for the local marinated tempeh and enjoy the texture of the fermented soybean. With lashings of dill pickle, nut cheese and relish, there is plenty of punch to enliven the soy and wedge of avocado. Piled between two pieces of the house sourdough and a zesty green salad on the side, this is flavoursome and fun. And it really expands in my stomach afterwards. I’m full and satisfied.
There are kid-friendly choices that they won’t even know is healthy (Mac n Cheese, anyone?), and you can buy juice or kefir to take home. Pickled and Pressed is putting their message where their mouth is, and it’s leaving a nutritious, clean aftertaste.
- What: Pickled and Pressed. 98 Glebe Road, The Junction.
- Contact: 4054 9426. pickledandpressed.com.au
- Hours: Breakfast and lunch, 7 days.
- Owners: Alice Joy and Tibor Grubits
- Accessibility: No.
- Take note: Try a juice cleanse at home; there’s a dog-friendly courtyard.
- Bottom line: Dishes $7-$23; drinks $4-$18.
- Must try: A juice and a tempeh burger.