Pilgrim's Vegetarian Cafe, Cronulla NSW

Can strictly vegetarian food be yummy, exciting and healthy at the same time?   The broad answer is perhaps - and it does depend on the preparer and the ingredients offered.  

Hummus, beetroot, Taboulleh, Mayonaisse, mushroom, roast herb potato and Southern Highlands NSW free range eggs.   These are used by the Pilgrim's Vegetarian Cafe to add taste, offer diversity, uplift texture and provide passion to the vegetarian space.  Unlike East Asian veg cooking, which can be deep fried, or Indian, which utilises much yoghurt, modern Australian versions emphasise of freshness, rawness and use of tasty mixes.  Throw in fit looking and energetic customers,  walk the talk, talk the walk and that is the vibe one may get at Pilgrim's.  Walk up the stairs from street level and you come into a bright space with vistas of what can be.

People look relaxed at Pilgrim's here, with lots of group chatter or individuals doing personal down time with or without their smart devices.   The Cronulla cafe on the first floor offers panoramic views and spacious (though no outdoor) seating.  The business has been around for 36 years and seen all the trends in veg eating. 

My serve of Harvest Burger.

Can you readily at home already make the stuff offered at Pilgrim's? Maybe one can, perhaps it is not worth the hassle of having so many ingredients and yet just using a little of each.  In my view, it is the clever combination of ideas, choice of stuff, harmony in the bite and the diversity in the combination that matters at Pilgrim's.   Are the creations then enhanced by sweetness, sourness, neutral flavours or more?  Is there a balance of all essential elements of nutrition?  Does the customer want more on a return visit.....

Standards like buttermilk pancakes, Granola and baked beans are found throughout the menu, with fruits, grains and greens.    And the single origin barista made coffee.  An interesting feature of Pilgrim's us that their menu has inspiration from multi-cultural Australia  - you have the USA, Indian, Greek, Italian, Lebanese, Spanish, Mexican, Moroccan and more.

In my perception, the words tofu and burger can be contradictory, but at Pilgrim's, there is a Tofu Burger, garnished by a peanut sauce, fried onions, tomato slices and lettuce, served with a rice salad and with a marinade for the soybean cake. The Tofu Burger challenges the build up of taste from a bland base -  how do you add character, variety and a memorable bite? Does one risk over whelming the gentle nature of the soy bean cake?   Does one get an uplift and a crunch?

The aptly named Mountain Burger says it all, for those hungry or with big appetites  - a mixed grain pattie is heaped on a toasted whole meal roll, with various delights like pineapple, cucumbers, fried onions, tomato slices, beetroot, sprouts, egg, lettuce and carrot shavings, then jizzed with what Pilgrim's call a special sauce.   This is one for the road for surf boarders after a morning out with the elements....

I enjoyed my Harvest Burger, a relatively light offering with almost similar stuff, except that there is no pineapple and egg.  I did appreciate the crunchiness of this burger, balanced with some raw green taste of the raw stuff and completed by the wholesome bread roll.

Next opportunity, I am going to try the Millennium Burger and the Bliss Burger.  The former has a curry lentil pattie, sweet chili sacuce and Tahini dressing instead,  whilst the 
latter is a wholemeal roll with Taboulleh,  peanut sauce, cheese and avocado with the mixed grain pattie, fried onions, sprouts and special sauce.

Surprise, surprise, there is also Mexican fare at Pilgrim's Cronulla.   Perhaps I should not be amazed, as the beans conjure up in my vision and understanding.   Tacos, Enchiladas, Nachos, Burritos, Tortilla bread, Jalapeno Salsa, they have it all.    Definitely there is no meat, but then you have alternatives in spicy red beans, spinach, re fried and spiced potato, brown rice and Ricotta cheese. 

My favourite would be the Tortilla wrap, containing my preferred stuff of Guacamole, spicy red beans, re fried and spiced potato and then garnished with Salsa and sour cream.  It echoes in me the joys of beach food, the freedom of teenage years, the collegiality of university and the informality of a family outing.  Owners Kelly and Anthony MacDonald hailed from Batemans Bay on the NSW South Coast, a place familiar with many Sydney siders on summer holiday.   I understand that many of the ingredients used at pilgrim's comes from this corner of Australia as well.

Sourdough is sourced from Berry Bakery.    Teas, wines and beers complement the coffee, Sangria and frozen Daiquiri available.    Taiwanese, Indo-Chinese and South Asian traditions may question the serving of alcohol with vegetarian.

Of course, for the purist, there is nothing like fresh green salad - Pilgrim's makes them with slices of Roma tomatoes, Fetta cheese, Lebanese cucumber, Kalamata olives, green capsicum, Spanish onions, together with locally grown variety of greens - and all splattered with roasted pine nuts and dressing.

The wait staff have a smile and the food did come readily.   The amount of menu choices above the bar and counter can be crowded on first reading but do contain a pertinent and interesting array of details  - even pies!   Guests can check out the goings-on around the junction immediately and beyond on to the park beside the beach.

Crystals drink - mango, strawberry and orange smoothie.

My impressions of Pilgrim's  Cronulla:
Ambiance: 3.5 out of 5
Customer Engagement: 3 out of 5
Culinary Delight: 3.5 out of 5
X Factor:  3 out of 5
Overall:  3.25 out of 5

Recommended menu choices:
Corn Fritters accompanied by chili jam, rocket, avocado and Fetta smash and roast tomatoes.
Pesto Sourdough, served with fresh egg mayo, fresh greens with avocado and roast mushroom, amongst other ingredients.
Breakfast Burger, a toasted wholemeal roll laden with with roast tomato, Mayonnaise, roast mushroom, avocado, melted cheese and fried egg.
Acai Bowl, filled up with roasted coconut, banana, strawberries, Granola and yoghurt. 
North Shore Plate, organic brown rice topped by a black bean brew and garnished by Guacamole, tomato salsa, sour cream and lettuce, with a side of toasted corn bread.
Mountain Burger.

Pilgrim's Cronulla is located at 97 Garelle Street, Cronulla NSW, opposite the park at South Beach.   BYO is for wine only at the Cronulla outlet of Pilgrims.
Opening hours are from 8am to 3pm every day. 
Contact + 61 2 9523 7580

Pilgrim's is also found at Huskisson and Milton on the NSW South Coast, around two hours drive from Wollongong NSW.

Pilgrim's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 


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