Shop 20, 26 Orchid Avenue, Surfers Paradise Ph: 0416 220 906
“Let food be thy medicine…” Hippocrates
Sometimes during my holidays, I become an imaginary tourist. I venture out to a suburb I rarely visit. I walk slowly, looking with ‘the eyes of a tourist’; noticing places, people, deciding where I would stop to shop, checking out where and what my food options would be.
A recent walk through Surfers brought home to me that tourist food options ‘in town’ include many unhealthy food choices. The main streets are laden with pizza, kebab and fast food outlets. Same old, same old. Not all food joints fall into those categories, of course. There are some top nosh joints mostly hidden away up escalators or around corners, but you have to search to find great examples of affordable world cuisines.
Unfortunately, a lot of the Gold Coast’s creative culinary energy is being spent between Mermaid Beach and Palm Beach where the rent is more affordable. Besides, no one has been audacious enough to believe that tourists, or locals, in the Big Smoke want wholefood! Until now!
Monique Birdsall, with the help of partner Justin, has opened Hunter & Harvest smack bang in the middle of nightclub central. It’s a wholefood restaurant based on the healthy diet they’d like their son, Hunter, to grow up with.
In a quiet corner off Orchid Avenue, this could be your own natural haven. Settle in for a coffee and quiet chat with a friend in the courtyard beside a fountain, or inside the café under the tree. Yes there is a tree inside. Hunter’s playful influence is everywhere: a cubby house, books, a bicycle on the way to somewhere. Most of all, there’s an awareness that the food we eat will influence who we become.
Hunter & Harvest is the first ‘one stop whole food shop’ in Surfers Paradise. Whether you prefer paleo, vegan, vegetarian, raw, organic, gluten free, or dairy free, or just plain healthy, this is a café you must check out!
The menu is clearly marked with all the options. Although it’s divided under Breakfast and lunch headings, the menu is flexible in timing and size, with lots of healthy choices for every diner: Organic Eggs your way, Brekkie Burrito, and the paleo Caveman Mammoth Brekkie consisting of free-range eggs, smoky bacon, the chef’s home-made turkey sausages, wild mushrooms, baby spinach, quinoa hash and toast. All of these are under $20. Choose smaller or larger plates to share from the lunch menu: burgers, paleo lasagne, meatballs, rice paper rolls, prawns prices ranging from $8 to $16, as well as raw cakes or Monique’s yummy paleo walnut banana bread for a mid meal snack. There’s even a good kids’ menu, well priced at $6.90.
Our shared starter, Baked Camembert, $12.9, is simple yet delicious. It’s surprising what a difference the infusion of ironbark honey and fresh thyme makes! The Eggs Bene with yoghurt hollandaise, $14, and Harvest Bruschetta, $16, prove to be great vegetarian meal choices, accompanied by Rise & Shine dairy-free iced espresso.
For the seafood lovers, The Fisherman’s Lunch is baked fish of the day served with salad and sweet potato fries, a fairly plain, but nutritious meal. I was intrigued by the tender calamari, served with a side of blueberry jam; its coconut flour crumbing is a great alternative to battering. A smooth Org organic coffee washes down our meal.
This café is also a green grocer and whole food store, and I’m surprised at the competitive prices of products, such as coconut flour, milk alternatives and coconut oil. If I worked in Surfers, I’d certainly be stopping in for a few grocery items. Monique tells me, she hopes to soon have some of these health products available online.
Monique has bravely stepped forward with Hunter & Harvest, making a statement that our health is of the utmost importance. It seems it’s only the young who dare to do such a thing.
Anthony Bourdain commented on this phenomenon recently in an article in the Smithsonian. He talks about the relative ease with which passionate young chefs can grow a business from a food truck or small restaurant without having to pay the dues of decades in the business.
“The upside is interesting people with something to say and a unique worldview can actually get their name out there and open a place with relative ease compared to the way it used to be.”
The path for Hunter & Harvest will not be an easy one without the support of locals. It’s up to us to show the everyday support needed to keep this venture open. Time for a change! “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you always got.” Mark Twain