I'm a freelance writer based in Perth, Western Australia, who enjoys writing about the things I love: travel, nature-based activities, the arts, spirituality and creative, fun activities for children.
Published December 14th 2012
A little gem which is one of the bay's best kept secrets
First impressions can be deceiving. Nestled right at the back of a small arcade, the Cardamom Pod could easily be overlooked in favour of the many larger and flashier eating establishments which adorn the streets and beach-front of Byron Bay, one of Australia's foremost holiday destinations. However, what the Cardamom Pod lacks in size, it more than makes up with its range of sumptuous vegetarian cuisine, tasteful decor, friendly service and unique ambiance. These factors have made it a firm favourite with locals and tourists alike, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian.
Owned and managed by Hare Krishna devotees, the Cardamom Pod is pure vegetarian, meaning that none of the preparations contain meat, fish or eggs. In addition, the cooks don't use onion or garlic, substituting them instead for creatively combined spices: an important consideration for many practitioners of yoga and meditation. Although the restaurant is primarily lacto vegetarian, meaning it uses dairy products, there are always several preparations which are strictly vegan, and contain no animal by-products whatsoever. However, what all the preparations served here have in common is their utilisation of pure, natural ingredients. Spiced lightly, there is something for everyone, even very young children and those with a sensitive palette.
The Cardamom Pod serves a sumptuous assortment of contemporary vegetarian favourites, including classic Indian and Asian preparations, and vegetarian adaptations of popular Western preparations. As well as the wholesome staples of Indian vegetarian cuisine, rice and dahl, every day a dazzling assortment of vegetable dishes are available which include vegetarian Thai curries, chickpea subjis, paneer (milk curd) preparations, vegetarian shepherd's pie, vegan potato Gauranga (a delicious casserole made with potatoes baked in a sauce of lightly spiced coconut milk), vegetable lasagne, South Indian sambal and vegetarian rendang. For a lighter snack or to accompany these more substantial meals, the restaurant also serves classic savoury favourites such as samosas (small vegetable pastries made from either mixed vegetable or paneer), pakoras (vegetables deep-fried in batter, and served with mango chutney), pappadams and kofta balls.
The selection of main meals at the Cardamom Pod is truly awesome, and includes classics from the East and West.
Sumptuous gourmet salads are another firm favourite with the Cardamom Pod's devoted clientele and these include pumpkin and feta cheese salad, avocado and cherry tomato salad, tempe salad, sushi salad, tofu salad, kofta salad, Greek salad and polenta salad. With an assortment like this, it's not hard to see why such a large number of vegetarians and vegans choose to reside in the Byron Bay area.
Some of the sumptuous selection of salads which can be enjoyed at the Cardamom Pod.
Last but definitely not least, the Cardamom Pod is well known in vegetarian circles around Byron for its awesome assortment of cruelty-free cakes and sweets. If you want to take up a veg diet, there's definitely no better place to be, with a range of sweeties which include egg-free cakes, pumpkin cheesecakes, pecan pies, macadamia burfi with saffron, laddhus, bliss balls, and an incredibly wicked sago pudding. To quench the thirst, the restaurant's popular mango smoothie shouldn't be missed either.
In a nutshell (excuse the pun), the Cardamom Pod Cafe is a great little eatery to drop in to, next time you find yourself in the Byron Bay area. Whether you're a vegetarian or not, it's artful fusion of the best cuisines from the West and the Orient is something which really shouldn't be missed.
The Cardamom Pod is situated at Shop 8 in the Peir Arcade on Lawson Street. It's open seven days a week, from 11.30am until 9.00pm. To find out more, check out The Cardamom Pod's website, or call them on 02 6680 7383. Bon appétit!