The Mandala website says ‘We invite you to come and make yourselves at home’ and that’s exactly how Al and I felt once we were seated in our comfy sofa chairs, complete with coffee table, that would later become our dining table, soft lighting and live (three piece alternative groove) band.
The space and decor is retro, share-house, op shop, hippy chic and on this busy Saturday night attracted a diverse crowd including Gold Coast party girls fueling up before a big night out, a large family birthday celebration, families with young children enjoying the live music and couples sharing a romantic meal. The staff are super friendly and the vibe (sorry, it just seems to be the right word to use here) is happy and relaxed, you just can’t help smile.
Our friends, Miss G and D are regulars so we were happy to be guided by them when ordering. We started with a dip platter ($16). A trio of dips served with raw veggie sticks, spelt flat bread and corn chips. They were all tasty but the olive dip was delicious. I loved the rustic presentation, it invited you to tuck in.
This was quickly followed by the creamy mushroom pizza (small $16, large $26) which consisted of sautéed tamari mushroom and herb pate base, leafy greens, roasted zucchini, mushrooms, sweet corn, caramelise Spanish onion, kalamata olives, nut cheese, cashew nut sour cream and fresh herbs.
The pizza choices are brilliant and can also be made with a gluten free base. So many unusual flavour combinations. I’d be very keen to try the rustic pumpkin with house-made napoli base, leafy greens, cinnamon roasted pumpkin, eggplant, toasted walnuts, caramelized spanish onion, kalamata olives, nut cheese and fresh herbs or the potato & caper with garlic and coconut buttered napoli base, leafy greens, rosemary roasted potatoes, capers, charred red capsicum, nut cheese, cashew nut sour cream and spring onion.
Next to arrive was the Mandala stir-fry ($19). Crispy veggies, stir fried in fresh ginger, garlic, lemon grass and coriander with tamari-marinated tempeh and brown rice, topped with sesame seeds, snow pea sprouts and a lemon wedge. This dish was a complete surprise, packed with flavour and healthy goodness.
The Nachos ($17) arrived topped with red kidney bean chilli, spicy raw Mexican salsa, fresh guacamole, nut cheese and fresh herbs with a swirl of cashew nut sour cream. You really couldn’t fault the flavours and Al said he didn’t miss the meat at all!
When I return I’m definitely having the Feijoada Vegana (Brazilian beans) ($20). A traditional dish of Brazilian black beans slow cooked in paprika and cumin with celery, pumpkin, sweet potato, chilli and fresh coriander with a side of sautéed kale and a toasted quinoa and brown rice farofa.
Mandala does not have a wine list but you can bring your own with a $4 per person corkage. To go with our healthy meal with enjoyed a sweet and spicy McLaren Vale Shiraz.
The drinks list is small and unique including Kombucha on tap ($6). A detoxifying and energising tonic, Kombucha is a powerful probiotic beverage known for its various health befefits. Young coconut water ($5) and Lemon Chilli ($6), organic lemons, lemon myrtle, lemon grass and organic raw sugar, freshly homemade, an old-fashioned lemonade. Also available is a wide variety of herbal teas ($4), Chai Latté and Maté Latté ($5). There is also a range of smoothies with the lunch menu.
I was definitely keen to try a raw super-food dessert cake ($7). The menu described them as hand-crafted deliciousness made with the finest of organic raw ingredients. Made in varying combinations of cacao, cacao butter, coconut oil, goji berries, blue berries, coconut, cashew nuts, agave, almonds, mint, stevia leaf. Flavour choices were pineapple and citrus, chocolate or berry. We went with chocolate and berry but I’ll happily make a special trip to the Gold Coast just to try the pineapple citrus!
More like a mousse cake, the chocolate was rich but not overly sweet. It was very easy to eat and very enjoyable. The berry was lovely and light with a hint of lemon.
We also tried the 3 scoop ice-cream chocolate sunday ($9). Locally-made cocolucious, diary-free ice-cream, it was smooth and creamy and left everyone with a smile of their face.
I was so pleasantly surprised by our visit to Mandala. The atmosphere was relaxed, the service efficient and friendly, the food healthy and full of flavour. What more could you ask? I look forward to a return visit.
Mandala Organic Arts Cafe is located at 4/2558 Gold Coast Hwy, Mermaid Beach, approximately 300 meters south of Pacific Fair Shopping Centre.
Dinner: 7 nights (5pm-9pm)
Lunch: Tue – Sun (11am-3pm)
Bookings: 07 5679 1762