Hey there people! I'm a Tassie girl living on the Gold Coast. I make my money working in hospitality, but if I could I'd spend all my time writing!
Published September 4th 2012
Try telling the average bloke you want to take him to an Organic Arts Café. Where the chefs cook with certified organic coconut oil (which, unlike other oils does not form unhealthy by-products when heated), and there is no meat in anything on the menu. There would probably be a bloke-shaped hole in the wall by the time you got to 'unhealthy by-products,' sparing him the horrifying news about the meatless menu. But he would be a silly man. Because Mandala puts the 'Oh' into Organic. The flavours they come up with in that kitchen have to be tasted to be believed. The pizzas are probably the most famous element of the menu, but the stir fry with noodles and the tempeh burger are also fairly likely to blow your mind.
There is a vibe in Mandala. You pass through the door, the drab, bustling highway at your back, and immediately feel at home. Wooden floors glow in the soft light, a comfy assortment of old couches beckon from their positions around chipped tables, and ambient music wraps itself around you like a blanket. It feels exactly like a back-packer hostel, or a communal house. There's even a bookcase containing tattered volumes about spiritual enlightenment and the like, generally at least one or two children running around enjoying life, and a garden out the back.
The waitresses all look healthy – you can just tell they're organic vegan people, and they eat this stuff all the time. You will probably make some kind of vague resolution to shop at the Farmer's Market more or something as you leave.
Mandala boasts myriad forms of stereotypically hippy entertainment, all of which many non-hippies also find enjoyable. There are salsa lessons on Thursday nights. There are movie and documentary nights. Mandala now has a liquor license, so you can pack a bottle of wine. But the atmosphere is what I would call 'classy-shabby-hippy-chic,' so don't get wasted. Live bands play several nights a week.
I was there once on a Tuesday night, enjoying a tempeh burger with sweet potato chips and salad, floating away on the plaintive strains of acoustic guitar. Suddenly, a terrible sound overtook the plaintive strains. 'Oh my God,' I thought. 'Is that for real? Are they really going to let this frail, crackly voice destroy my tempeh-induced serenity? How DARE they!' I turned to view the culprit. It was a small child, clinging to Daddy's knee as he moved aside so she could lean her curly little head into the microphone. The noises went from excruciating to cute in one second, and the serenity was restored.
So get your organic on at Mandala. Lure Vegetarian Food Haters there with the promise of pizza. Take wine, settle into a couch, and enjoy the vibe. Or take the kids – you never know, they might even get a shot at the stage.