Inside look: all-vegetarian Mediterranean eatery Sunshine opens on James Street
If you’ve meandered down James Street in the last week or so, you would have spied a collection of sunray-hued umbrellas casting a warm glow over a welcoming olive-tree-lined courtyard. As of Wednesday April 20, those umbrellas will be shading hordes of hungry revellers devouring home-style Mediterranean cuisine by the plate when much-anticipated vegetarian eatery Sunshine officially opens its doors. The sun-dappled eatery is the latest concept from seasoned restaurateur Simon Gloftis (and business partners Theo Kampolis and Kelvin Andrews), positioned a short stroll across James Street from his acclaimed restaurants Hellenika and SK Steak & Oyster. The Weekend Edition was lucky enough to get a sneak peek today before it opened to the public – here’s an inside look …
It has long been documented that a Mediterranean-style diet is good for your health. Based on the traditional eating habits of those in the Mediterranean region, the vegetable-forward diet features nourishing whole foods, enhanced with the likes of extra-virgin olive oil, nuts, seeds, alliums, herbs and spices. The meals are wholesome, healthy and delicious, and are staples in the weekly diets of families the world over – including the family of Simon Gloftis. It’s the nutritious Greek dishes of Simon’s childhood that have inspired the offering at Sunshine, his new all-vegetarian Mediterranean eatery and passion project, which has been six years in the making. Swapping the fine-dining feel of its sibling restaurants for a laid-back street-side atmosphere, Sunshine offers James Street diners an entirely new concept, adopting a casual point-and-plate approach that allows you to order with your eyes.
If you’re wondering what ‘point and plate’ means, we’ll happily explain the concept – but first you need to visualise the space. Once you pass the sea of yellow umbrellas, you’ll reach the timber-framed entrance of Sunshine’s interior. Featuring a neutral palette of muted tones, organic materials and curved archways, it’s a striking contrast to the vibrancy of the outdoor dining area. Your eyes will immediately be drawn upward to the high arched ceiling, where a skylight filters literal sunshine into Sunshine, illuminating the nourishing nosh awaiting your selection in the glass cabinets below. A staff member will guide you through the cabinets, then you simply ‘point’ and they ‘plate’ (told you we’d get there!) the items and quantity you want as you walk along. Once you’ve got your desired combination of delights, the staff will take it over to the counter to be weighed. Much like a deli, you pay per weight – just under $5 per 100 g, no matter what you choose. Your plate can then be packed up to take away or enjoyed outside beneath the sunbeam-coloured shades and olive trees, with an iced tea, wine or house spritz in hand. A collection of olive oils, seasonings and condiments sit atop a central island (alongside an impressive olive bonsai), ready for you to grab on your way out the door.
More than 30 dishes will be on rotation at Sunshine, featuring everything from hearty bakes and slow-cooked meals to light salads and delectable desserts. The eatery is a true representation of the Mediterranean diet – all of the items are nourishing, seasonal and vegetarian using only the best quality produce, with a number of vegan, gluten-free and nut-free options also available. The beauty of Sunshine is that you can choose your own adventure and craft your plate to suit your appetite, cravings and purpose. If hunger levels are high, you might opt for more substantial dishes such as spanakopita, orzo pasta, moussaka or stuffed vegetables. When you’re after something lighter, the grain salad, corn, jalapeno and chickpea salad, or broccoli with avocado might be more your speed. When you’re really craving nourishment, Simon recommends you opt for the ‘restorative greens’ – a dish similar to the Greek staple horta, which sees five different leafy greens of the day cooked down with onion, fresh tomato and olive oil to create a wholesome meal that will revitalise you from the inside, out. You can accompany your meal with a dollop of cumin-spiced yoghurt or fava dip, a spoonful of olives or a slice of bread, and select from the likes of fresh watermelon, Turkish delight and honey-drizzled vegan yoghurt to end on a sweet note. A true Mediterranean diet is not without wine and group beverage director Alex McPherson has crafted a list that favours sustainable, organic, biodynamic and vegan drops from a clutch of forward-thinking Australian wineries. These are joined by a handful of beers (both alcoholic and non) and clever cocktails, as well as juices, kombucha, whole fresh young coconuts and house-made concoctions – think old-fashioned pink lemonade and the Sunshine Mediterranean Iced Tea, which is made from traditional Greek mountain tea.
Sunshine opens to the public on Wednesday April 20. For operating hours and other important details, head to the Stumble Guide.
The Stumble Guide is our comprehensive Brisbane dining guide with more than 2400 places to eat, drink, shop and play.