Whoever says that eating out as a vegan is hard has clearly been living under a rock for the last few years. Increasingly we are seeing restaurants deciding to make the switch and offer plant-based options. While Newtown is known as the ‘Vegan Mecca’ in Sydney, there certainly are many other restaurants worth visiting in Sydney city.
One such example is The Hold – a boutique cocktail bar and food destination on the Northern Beaches. Situated in the heart of Manly, The Hold is definitely worth your time, vegan or not.
Decorated with much love for detail, this bar has a particular kind of charm – making you feel as if you’ve just entered the most popular rendezvous point for both pirates and sailors.
“The inspiration to add vegan versions of everything on the menu originally came from a desire to try to do something to help the environment”, says owner Keith Skinner.
“I had read quite a lot about the damage to the planet that’s being caused by animal farming and the amount of land that needs to be cleared for rearing cattle. I spoke to the chef about doing a really tasty vegan version of our burgers and putting them on the menu. He’s quite eco-conscious like myself so he was immediately on-board with the idea. One of the most important things for us was to make sure that the vegan burgers were just as tasty as our regular burgers so we did quite a bit of research and trialled several plant-based products. Pretty quickly we discovered one product that, with a little bit of seasoning, tasted really great. So we stuck a vegan version of all the burgers on the menu. We had no idea if any of them would sell but we felt like we were doing something small to help the cause and hoped that some vegans would appreciate them & anyone else that had a desire to eat less meat but still have a great burger. Five months on & we regularly have weeks where the vegan burger sales make up 40% of all our food sales.”
The Hold also offers daily specials, one of them being 20% off all plant-based burgers on Thursdays.We started off our visit with the ‘Fire in The Hold’ cocktail, a refreshing mix of Fireball cinnamon whisky, apple, lemon and sugar, served with a smoky cinnamon finish ($20). The cocktail usually contains a dash of egg white, which is substituted for aqua feva (chickpea rind), for the vegan version.
We then ordered the Captain Jack and the Blue Beards Slow Boat burgers ($22 each), the Spiced Plant Based Chicken Nuggets with Bourbon Bbq Dipping Sauce ($12) and the Classic Mac & Cheese ($11).
The Captain Jack comes with a 180g plant-based Match ‘meat’ patty, crispy coconut-flake bacon- substitute, Spanish onions, vegan cheddar, with a vegan mac & cheese infused onion ring, bourbon bbq sauce & American mustard with Detroit pickles.
This burger was our favourite out of all the dishes we ordered, and quite possibly also the best vegan burger I’ve ever tried! The combination of the very realistic meat substitute with the absolutely delicious coconut bacon and the mac & cheese infused onion ring (serious food porn alert!) definitely makes this burger stand out!
The close second favourite was the Blue Beards Slow Boat, which consists of a 180g plant-based Match ‘meat’ patty, jalapeno jam, crispy coconut-flake bacon-substitute, house vegan aioli, vegan blue cheese and rocket. I had never tried vegan blue cheese before and was actually blown away by the very authentic taste. The jalapeno jam plus the coconut bacon is a match made in heaven!
We also ordered the Mac & Cheese, which tasted just like the real deal! The Chicken Nuggets were crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, and were perfectly complemented with the bourbon bbq sauce.
After dinner, we tried the White Wash Martini ($18), which is a silky smooth Pralines‘n cream cocktail consisting of Vanilla vodka, chestnut liqueur, Liquor 43, praline powder & single cream (substituted with coconut cream for the vegan option).
This was followed by the Santa Maria ($19), which consisted of muddled cucumber, gin, elderflower liqueur, citrus, rose syrup & a dash of egg white, again substituted with aqua feva. Shaken smooth this gin sour has sweet notes with floral finishes.
Whether you’re vegan or just interested in eating a more plant-based diet, you should definitely give this place a visit – I highly recommend it!
4 Sydney Road Plaza, Manly, Sydney NSW
Phone: (02) 9977 2009