Classy veganism done right.
The Cardamom Pod is a Gold Coast icon. It’s the standard-bearer for delicious plant-based cuisine in a café setting – you could get a fully vegan meal here before veganism was really trendy.
Be warned, though: this is no barefoot hippy hangout. The Cardamom Pod has a serious touch of class, making it perfect for a slightly more upscale brunch.
107 Ferry Rd, Southport QLD 4215
The Cardamom Pod is housed in the Brickworks Centre along Ferry Road, Southport. If you’re a native Gold Coaster, you’ll probably know Brickworks by its most notable offering: the hugely popular ‘Ferry Road Markets’, which pairs artisan groceries with a selection of upscale eateries and cafés.
Once you make it through the door, the first thing you’ll notice is the space. The Cardamom Pod is big – both in floor size and ceiling height. I didn’t count the tables, but I’d guess there’s room for about twenty, and the full-length windows let in natural light that makes the place feel even larger.
Aesthetically, it’s channelling an industrialist vibe, kind of. I say ‘kind of’ because the Pod cites an Indian influence in its cuisine, and that’s seeped into the interior design too. The dining area is bisected by a room-length shelf filled with pottery and plants, the walls feature macramé hangings, and there’s a mural of a Hindu deity on the back wall.
It works, though. Nothing feels forced or conflicted. The Cardamom Pod is a stylistic hybrid, but one with a clearly defined identity of its own.
When my partner and I first arrived, there weren’t any tables. That’s a pretty good yardstick of popularity.
The staff put us on a waiting list and called us 15 minutes later when a spot cleared up – not a bad process, especially when there are so many highly browsable shops nearby. When we came back, we were assigned a table and given menus, which felt more like restaurant dining than a typical find-any-table-you-can café.
The staff were pleasant, knowledgeable and friendly, although they definitely exude a sense of efficiency – with a line of people waiting outside for tables, they’re not hanging around to chat with diners.
The wait times were also similarly prompt; our drinks came out seven minutes after ordering, and our food within 11 minutes.
What’s On the Menu
Ah, the menu. Yes, it’s all vegan, and, yes, that can be a bit disconcerting if you’re a dedicated carnivore.
The café staples – eggs benny, burgers, toasties – have been dutifully replaced by faux-meat alternatives. Arguably, abominations like facon shouldn’t be on any real menu, but the Cardamom Pod are appealing to their target market, and you can’t really fault them for it.
The Cardamom Pod has, historically, had traces of Indian in its offerings, although the current menu doesn’t really reflect that. It’s all fresh, hip café food – think waffles, pancakes, burgers, açaí bowls and wraps.
The drinks are also pretty standard. Smoothies, cold-pressed juices, various caffeinated combos – although the lattes and teas are eye-catching, with names like ‘apple pie latte’ and ‘vitamin boost tea’.
What I Ate
I’m not a massive fan of meat replacements, so I tossed up between the two pancake options, settling on the apple pie pancakes with apple compote, pecan-oat crumble, rhubarb jelly, butterscotch sauce, and apple jelly. It didn’t disappoint.
Let me be clear: the Cardamom Pod’s plating is exceptional for a café. The pancakes were surrounded by a halo of colours and textures, punctuated by the butterscotch sauce in a handmade beaker. Looking at the dish, there’s a sense of playfulness, like the chefs are deliberately leaning into the Instagrammability (is that a word?) of their creation.
The pancakes themselves were thick, moist and fluffy, with hints of cinnamon that went well with the apple compote. I smothered them in the butterscotch sauce, and, pleasantly, it complemented rather than overwhelmed. The garnishes – pecan-oat crumble, dragon fruit, raspberries – were also fun to work through, although I didn’t love the jellies, which felt a bit out of place on a more nature-focused plate.
Overall, the pancakes were pretty perfect. For $22, they’re expensive, but worth it.
What I Drank
As I normally do when I eat out, I ordered a large iced long black with an extra shot, which clocked in at $5.50.
The presentation was good – a classy, angular glass, enhanced by an elegant rose petal garnish. I expected floral notes, but coffee was pleasantly bitter, a medium-dark roast not overly diluted by ice.
The Cardamom Pod is known as the Gold Coast’s best vegan eatery for a reason. Do yourself a favour. Eat here.
Large Iced Long Black, Extra Shot
Apple Pie Pancakes
Apple Pie Latte