Dylan, Mr O., Em, Chris and I had spent a glorious summer morning brunching at Bird Cow Fish and wine tasting at The Tilbury. We hadn’t made plans for the afternoon thinking we’d just see what happened, and with an out-of-towner in tow it made sense to head straight for the harbour to show off our magical city.
With my pale and freckly skin I am not too keen on summer and with the sun beating down I didn’t think I would be able to handle the heat too well. Surprisingly though on this day the water was shimmering and I was purely mesmerised by the beauty of our city, forgetting about the heat for some time. We wandered around showing Chris Circular Quay, the Opera House and of course ‘the’ Bridge. As the heat became unbearable we thought it would be fun to take refuge in the ice bar at Circular Quay. Little did we know it had closed down some time before and I never did get to have cocktails in minus 5!
But then I realised we were at the quay and just around the corner from Greenhouse by Joost, so I quickly convinced everyone we just *had* to go to the pop-up restaurant everyone in Sydney seemed to be talking about.
Greenhouse by Joost first appeared in Melbourne’s Federation Square from November 2008 to January 2009 before turning up in Perth in December 2009 as a permanent restaurant. A year later, hearing of the plans to take the Greenhouse concept on an international tour, the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority jumped in and invited Joost to kick off the tour in Sydney with a $300,000 grant to make the project happen. Only a few weeks later Greenhouse by Joost opened on Saturday 12th February right on the water’s edge in Campbells Cove, it will be packed up at the end of March and make its international debut at the International Furniture Fair in Milan.
So what is all the fuss about?
The pop-up restaurant is so much more than a restaurant. Some have dubbed it an art exhibition but I think it’s a wake-up call to a city that could be doing so much more for the environment in which we live. Greenhouse is eco-friendly, made from 100% recycled or sustainable materials, from the building itself right through to the food; nothing goes to waste. So naturally I couldn’t wait to check it out for myself.
Arriving mid-afternoon worked in our favour as we missed the lunch and dinner crowds and found a table without too much fuss. As we had eaten brunch and grazed all through the wine tasting we weren’t hungry enough for a main meal but we were happy to continue grazing through to dinner. In between lunch and dinner service there is only a small selection of menu items to choose from: spiced almonds, sliced deli meats or pizza. I love pizza, especially wood-fired pizza…decision made.
Straight from the wood-fired oven to our table on a plank of plywood, the pizzas arrived in no time at all. Although quite small for the price you pay we’d half expected that to be the case and strategically ordered a few to share. The rocket tried to fly away in the wind so we had to be quick (yes, that’s why the pizza disappeared in a few seconds, the wind!). I adored the stringy piping hot cheese and the crispy, light base dusted with semolina, adding that little extra bit of texture. Overall it was a delicious pizza, the salty prosciutto, stringy cheese and peppery rocket all working so well together. Yum!
Tradewinds gin, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, orange juice, lemon juice, cucumber and flat leaf parsley ($16.00)
Holly Dollar rum, mint, fresh sugarcane juice ($16.00).
Dylan and I both got stuck into the cocktails which were perfect choice for a hot summer day. Drinking out of jam jars was quite odd and at first I was convinced I’d end up with half the drink down the front of my dress but luckily I managed to hold it together. I could have drunk many many more of these, both Dylan and my cocktails were delicious.
The restaurant sure does provide insulation from the blistering Australian sun; and with the wind whipping through the room and the water lapping just below us we definitely had the coolest spot on the Harbour.
Other than the prices there are not many negatives with Greenhouse. It’s a ‘restaurant’ pushing the boundaries, giving Sydneysiders a wake-up call about our surroundings and showing businesses and consumers just how easily you can make a difference with the choices you make in buying and consuming goods.
I can’t wait to see what’s next in the world of pop-ups.
Greenhouse by Joost
The Rocks NSW 2000
Greenhouse by Joost Website
More on Greenhouse
Who: Joost Bakker (visionary, designer, architect, mastermind!), Jason Chan (restaurateur), Matt Stone (executive chef, winner of the 2011 Gourmet Traveller Award for ‘Best New Talent’).
Greenhouse is made from 100% recycled or sustainable materials, the site is rubbish bin free with only compostable goods used, nothing goes to waste. Don’t believe it? Keep reading…
Walls: The outer walls are made from recycled steel, the internal walls are magnesium oxide board that has been developed to store carbon within the walls themselves (the MgO board has been impregnated with bio-char charcoal – have a read on Wiki, it’s pretty cool!). There are straw bales inside the walls, ceiling and floor as the building’s insulation. Some of the exterior walls feature hundreds of terracotta pots filled with strawberry plants, while on the rooftop you’ll see liquid bins (normally used for olive oil) that have been turned into a vegie and herb garden for the kitchen below, with compost from the kitchen being fed back into the garden.
Floor: The main floor is made from conveyer belts cut down into tiles, while the kitchen and bathroom floors are lined with natural linoleum.
Electricity & Lighting: The oil from the 3 deep fryers is turned into diesel that provides all the electricity required for the Greenhouse! At night there is only light from Queen B’s natural bees’ wax candles.
Tables: Old billboards have been cut down to tables.
Chairs: Aluminium irrigation pipes provide the frame and leather cut offs from a saddler act as the seat bit.
Staff uniforms: T-shirts from the Salvation Army re-printed using natural dyes.
Food: Locally sourced or sustainable food only; grain is milled on site into flour for bread, pasta, pizza and pastries; oats are rolled to order; juices are all freshly squeezed; yoghurt and butter are produced on site. All fresh produce is supplied in returnable crates, buckets and containers.
Drinks: Greenhouse produces its own carbonated drinks – soda, tonic water and cola. Other drinks are delivered in returnable kegs or barrels, with beer poured on tap only (i.e. no bottled beer). The house spirits of vodka, gin, rum and whiskey are Australian made and owned.
Crockery, Cutlery & Glassware: Food is served on plywood boards and in recycled jars, the cutlery is plantation timber that will be composted after use, drinks are served in jam jars and old Little Creatures beer bottles that have been cut down and turned into beer glasses.
Toilets: The toilets have a sink above the cistern; you wash your hands and the cistern fills up ready for the next flush.
Inspirational work, thank you Joost!