After Barrio and Grease Monkey opening in Braddon, the next eatery to open in the precinct is Paleo Cafe. Offering 100% paleo and 100% gluten free dishes, Paleo Cafe’s motto is ‘Fuelled to live‘ promoting healthy eating and nutritious food via the paleo lifestyle. There is no dairy, grains, sugar or preservatives in the cafe’s food. Their website has a lot more information on living the paleo way. The inside of the cafe is brightly lit and cheerful with an orange coffee machine and matching orange chairs giving a pop of colour to the place. A bit of the outdoors is brought inside with the wallpapered feature wall. Cushions line the banquette seating along the wall. Bright, cosy and warm – a nice contrast to the grey winter we’ve been having.
The cafe’s current menu is available online with a comprehensive list of breakfast, lunch and drink options. I headed in for breakfast one morning and ordered a small raspberry hot chocolate with raw cacao, honey, raspberries, coconut milk and toasted flaked almonds ($4.50). The raspberry hit was strong with a sour edge that offsets the sweetness of a regular hot chocolate. I’m glad I tried something different but it wasn’t for me since I much prefer my chocolate sweet. I also tried the small berricool smoothie of strawberries, raspberries, mango and banana (smoothies come in two sizes). Healthy with no added sugar, just natural sweetness from the fruit.
The pulled pork and tomato hot pot ($16.50) was exactly what I needed to warm myself up that morning. This BBQ pulled pork is mixed together with spiced tomato sauce on a bed of baby spinach with two poached free-range eggs topped with turmeric dukkah. Served in a medium-sized dish, it is filled with a very generous portion of the softest pulled pork. There is a bit of spice in the tomato but not too much which I appreciated (I can’t handle that much spice so early in the morning). The small sliver of bread, it seriously was tiny, is made with coconut flour, almond flour and linseed flour and so it doesn’t hold together as well as regular white bread. Hence it crumbles very easily when dipping into the hot pot mix. What I love about this dish is that it is hearty home-style cooking, you won’t be disappointed with the portion size and the poached eggs were perfectly poached. What I would have have liked more of is the bread, perhaps two slices rather than one, so I might ask for more next time.
Since Paleo Cafe offers 100% gluten free meals, I met up with one of my gluten intolerant friends, Mr STTA, for lunch the following weekend. We both wanted to try what’s all the rage now, a turmeric latte. Turmeric is a bright yellow spice used most commonly in Indian cooking. Putting that into a latte peaked my curiousity and we both ordered one. The yellow latte dusted with cinnamon came out within 5 minutes of ordering. I don’t quite know how to describe the taste. The latte uses coconut milk mixed with ginger, cinnamon and a dash of honey. It’s creamy and stayed frothy on top. There is no bitterness to it as there is no caffeine in this latte. It’s light and sweet from the cinnamon and honey. I could enjoy sipping this in the afternoon or at any time of day really. Turmeric is meant to help boost your immunity so it’s great for winter (I can feel a cold coming).
For my main, I decided on the open steak sandwich ($19.50) with grilled grass-fed steak, crispy bacon, Spanish onion, tomato and lettuce on a linseed bun topped with chunky tomato relish. This is served with sweet potato chips and lemon aioli. The piece of steak was noticeably small and cooked well done. I didn’t mention how well cooked I wanted it (I usually go for medium rare) so you might need to mention this when ordering. The steak was still very juicy and I loved the char grilled flavour on it. The aioli gave a nice zingy kick to the steak. The chips were more burnt than I would have preferred but I felt great for eating a healthier version of chips. I finished this meal feeling satisfied and clean but not overly full.
Mr STTA had the beef cheek ($16.50) with tender grass-fed beef served on creamy sweet potato and pumpkin puree with braised red cabbage and pumpkin jus. This was my second choice for a main – it looked so good.
I must admit that I wasn’t sure what to expect at Paleo Cafe. I’m honestly quite surprised at what is offered and I think this place will surprise others too with some fabulous dishes on the menu. Other dishes I’m keen to try include the smokey pulled pork, chicken fajitas and banana pancakes. The turmeric latte was another surprise and something I’m keen to get into my belly again (I wonder if other cafes in Canberra offer it?) Staff here are clearly passionate about the paleo way of life and it is no trouble to explain the ingredients used in the dishes or provide advice on home cooking.
Paleo Cafe can be found in Queensland, South Australia and Victoria with the exact same menu. The Braddon cafe is located on Mort Street next door to Black Fire. Paleo Cafe is open Monday to Sunday for breakfast and lunch only at this stage. There may be plans to open up for dinner in the near future.
Value for money 9/10
FPJ score 25.5/30
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