Wholesomeness is a cafe and food preparation/delivery service operating out of the Brisbane inner northside, in the fuzzy division between the suburbs of Windsor and Grange. We hadn’t heard about it until receving an invite to visit and try their Healthy Grill Bar and Cafe, and were intrigued to see if they could deliver tasty food, being gluten and dairy-free.
Those who follow the food feed will probably have figured out by now that I don’t adhere to any particular diet, and don’t believe in dieting. All I require is that food be delicious, and ideally also prettily presented. The problem that arises with many diets is that they cut out particular food groups, which means you lose certain flavours and textures, and the attempts to work around that still don’t really work.
We ventured out to Wholesomeness on an overcast weekday afternoon, a little way away from Wilston Village (all these suburbs nestled in together). Along a row of shops just past a roundabout, it has quite an understated appearance. The signage is easily visible as you go by, and the colourful painted chairs out on the wooden deck might be the first thing to get your attention.
There is a bright cartoon mural on the side wall, of a happy farmer and his similarly cheerful animated fruits and vegetables. On speaking to one of the owners later, he denied that it was a picture of him..
The seating is mostly al fresco, with wooden communal tables and seats outside in an undercover area. There are a couple of painted metal tables and seats on the aforementioned deck further outside, and large beach umbrellas that can be put up over them for shelter. There area also a couple of counter seats at the window inside, but the counter already has knick knacks and pamphlets on it, and if you’re getting a good deal of food there is unlikely to be enough room. Most of the indoor area is the service counter, a glass cabinet in which there are already prepared salads and slices, and the food preparation area concealed behind a partition.
It was a pleasant temperature outside on the day we were there, but in different weather they might need to get fans or heaters to keep diners comfortable. There was music playing over the radio inside, which was barely audible from outside. Pop music leaked over the from the restaurant next door though, and there was the intermittent traffic rumble from the road nearby.
Drink options were on the board behind the counter, and besides coffees, there were smoothies and cold pressed juices to choose from. We were given a menu with the food options to take back to the table to peruse, and returned to order at the counter when we had chosen.
Bulletproof coffee has become populer among certain circles in the past year or so, with claims that it can do things like boost your IQ, trigger weight loss, and give you more energy in a sustained fashion. If only the Tibetans had patented their yak butter tea before their idea was stolen.. Bulletproof is offered here, with butter and MCT oil (also called “brain octane oil” by its creator), as it is meant to be done, and we thought we would try it. (The dairy-free seems to exclude the drinks.) It arrived, a yellow golden hue quite unlike your standard coffees. It was more lukewarm than properly hot though. Perhaps that has to do with the preparation process, which, from reading, involves putting the coffee, butter, and oil into a food processor or blender until all combined and emulsified. The coffee would lose heat in that both from being mixed with the cold butter and being whizzed around for a while. Unsurprisingly, it tasted like butter. The coffee component had been over extracted though, and was on the bitter side. It was thought to taste better after it had actually cooled further to room temperature. Not convinced there would be second round though.
The Choc Almond Decandance was the other drink ordered. It was a mix of cacao, almonds, dates, banana, and almond milk. It was served nicely cold. There was sweetness from banana, without the flavour being overpowering. It had the occasional little grains of crushed almonds, but not enough to be notably gritty. It was delicious, and would be worth getting again.
For food, we had the Lunch bowl. It came with roast sweet potato, broccolini, spinach, sunflower seeds, avocado, salsa verde, and a choice of smoked salmon, grilled chicken, or falafel balls as the protein. We picked the grilled chicken. It was tender and juicy, and there was a good amount of it in the bowl. The salsa verde dressing over it had a good tangy, parsley flavour, giving the dish freshness and lightness. The sweet potato was roasted so that it was soft without being mushy, and the sweet potato portions picked were properly ripe and sweet. There were also slices of avocado for a creamy component. Hiding in the bottom of the bowl were cubes of firm, ripe tomato. There were pine nuts as well, rather than sunflower seeds, but I think the pine nuts worked better than sunflower seeds would have. They were toasted, and gave it a nice roasted nuttiness, and additional texture. The other vegetable components were also nicely cooked so that they retained freshness. It was a filling meal, but carried the hazard of vegetable teeth afterwards. Bring a mirror to check you get all the bits out if you intend to order it..
The other dish we had was the Steak sandwich. It was rib fillet, between house baked sourdough, with tomato relish, and a choice of salad or paprika baked chips. We had the chips, of course. The meat was cooked medium rare as requested. The avocado provided a bit of fattiness but something oozy would have been nice. Here is where while the problem with dietary restrictions comes in, because there is little that replaces a good gooey melted cheese. There were slices of tomato in the sandwich instead of tomato relish, and though they weren’t soggy, the sandwich could have used relish instead, as it really needed more seasoning or some sort of sauce for flavour, as the meat wasn’t marinated to provide that. We put salt and pepper on it, but it needed more. The bread with it also didn’t seem like sourdough, but more like standard sandwich bread, and it stopped holding the ingredients together well by the time we were about halfway through, which made for a somewhat messy meal. The potato chips with it were roasted potato strips, which were nicely done so they still had some crunch on the outside surface, and because they were from whole potato were firm in the middle rather than squishy.
Overall, service was fine. Food did take a little while to arrive, but there was only one waitress, and I suspect she was also at least helping with food prep if not doing all that as well. The multiple duties were also what probably led to there being no one at the service counter or anywhere visible for quite a while after we initially turned up. The waitress was polite, and lovely to a woman and toddler at the other end of the table, offering toys to keep the toddler amused.
Wholesomeness has a pretty good food philosophy. For those who actually need it, having a place that is guaranteed to be gluten free, and can provide the same as a food delivery service is a boon. At this stage, most of their business is from the takeaway or delivery food aspect. Their offering of gluten free, organic, seasonal food sets them apart from other meal delivery services currently operating in a similar space. The cafe though, has a lot of competition in many aspects, and isn’t quite a standout from the rest yet.
Price point: Breakfast items $10 to $16. Lunch items $10 to $16. Smoothies and cold pressed juices $6 to $9.
Value: Alright, depending on what you order.
Address: Shop 4, 8 Days Road, Grange
Phone: 07 3856 1959