Little Sunflower Cafe – Elwood, Melbourne
My wife is a health food nut, sold on the miracles of bone broth and kale. I, on the other hand, am deeply sceptical about the health food industry and its bombastic marketing campaigns. Recent exposés of coconut oil not being elixir of life and ill charged soy beans have curdled my faith. Plus, healthy eating conjures the image of sexless dishes, boiled and raw, more religious purgatory than fine dining.
But, I’ve been promised that the Little Sunflower Cafe in Elwood will enlighten me. By all accounts it’s stretched the parameters of gastro-land, going beyond the obligatory wheatgrass shot and gluten free option, boldly entering new territory for cafeteria food.
You’ll have no illusions of their intent; the menu doubles as a nutritional guide, which is highly useful for those that don’t know their spurilina from their kombucha. It’s littered with buzz words: activated, raw, sprouted, soaked, fermented etc, which will either seduce or send you running. But before those doubters wander off into a McDonalds sunset, it’s worth noting that things are different here. Owner’s Angie Robertson and Grant Waters have created a portal for the uninitiated; sexing up staid health food into sheer indulgence.
The menu tiptoes the line of wholesomeness and imaginative cooking, all without dropping into the ranks of paleo militancy or gastronomic pomposity. In-house incantations range from curried soups, breakfast salads, exotic piadinas to low GI goji balls (hand rolled on site). The alchemy of nutrition and culinary flair is a rare feat – feeling both naughty and nourished is usually a mutually exclusive concept – not here.
The Buddha Bowls are the lunchtime order, carefully constructed to optimise our wellbeing. With every mouthful I felt like I was adding years to my life, eradicating decades of ignorant grazing. Like a dietary Benjamin Button rewinding through the role call of foie gras gluttony, pork belly pig-outs and dessert trolley abuse, I was being healed by a combination of legumes, grains and raw vegetables.
Cosmetically, the 36 seater has a scandinavian freshness, hemmed with art deco stain glass. The interior is accessorised with medicine bottles, quaint crockery and a wall of foliage. It’s got a clean and bright vibe, without being surgical or smelling of IKEA. One might expect the degree of arrogance that often accompanies the organic fraternity – super foods, super ego’s and all that. But there’s no haughtiness here, and the service is friendly and slick.
And where better positioned than in Elwood, the mecca for carefree upwardly-mobile health crusaders. Lycra clad young mothers and gentrified hippies have flocked. It’s become an ad hoc rehab centre for the excesses of the weekend – the Brain Power Juice alone (turmeric, carrot, pineapple and apple) packs enough antioxidants to kickstart a corpse.
I walked out of Little Sunflower Cafe feeling a foot taller, or rather a foot healthier. I had the glow of someone peaking on omega 3, chai seeds and micro herbs. I presented my wife with an edible flower when I returned home – the gesture of a man converted. Unfortunately it was lost on her – she thought I was cutting corners romantically again.
LITTLE SUNFLOWER CAFE
15 Ormond Rd, Elwood
Ph: 9531 0399