It surprised me to hear of an organic cafe on my side of the bridge. While being in the foodie circles you certainly hear about new openings and menu launches, if you want organic or “hipster” food, it’s largely assumed that you would need to travel into the inner city suburbs such as Newtown and Surry Hills to source such products.
Joanna, the owner of Spoonful Cafe & Living in Neutral Bay invited me to visit during a weekend that suited me, and it was on a brisk but gorgeously sunny winter morning a couple of weekends ago that I dropped by.
Being Neutral Bay, there are cafes crowded in on one another, jostling for space and clientele. Spoonful is along the ever-busy Military Road, but closer to the beginning of the foodie suburb.
I personally had the pleasure of meeting Joanna and before my brunch, she took me for a quick tour upstairs of the shop component of the cafe. Joanna comes from a background of hospitality, but after years of sourcing organic and eco products for herself, she decided that what she really wanted was to open up her own shopfront with these products. Thus passing onto others what has taken years for her to find. It’s not just organic muesli and raw chocolate, but also Kou beauty products, organic cotton sheet sets and dinnerware for babies and toddlers that’s not made out of plastic, but corn – free from any chemical nasties.
There’s also an amazing “DIY organic muesli bar” along the wall downstairs near the cafe, where there’s a variety of ingredients such as natural raw nuts, oats and quinoa to select from. Joanna told me that she makes her own almond milk (a very time-consuming process; apparently you need a kilo of raw almonds to make one litre of almond milk!) as she finds the ones in the supermarket have too many additives. And here I was thinking almond milk was healthy! She talked about how walnut milk is quite lovely (I was lucky enough to try a little; it is indeed lovely!) but hazelnut milk quite bitter. It would be nice to try and experiment with making macadamia milk, she told me, but first she would have to wait until she had space on her muesli bar to order some macadamias! There’s a variety of smoothies on the cafe menu that use nut milks, and you can also have it in your coffee (organic coffee by Sacred Grounds).
The cafe’s glass doors open up to the beautiful and tranquil little courtyard out the back.
Everything on the menu is handmade and freshly-baked daily, the bread for the sandwiches from Sonoma Bakery. There are a few dairy-free, vegan and gluten-free options, but even I had a chat with Joanna and we laughed at how hard it was to create a menu with items that were completely dairy, vegan and gluten free all at the same time.
I hadn’t yet had breakfast, but it was already about 10.00 o’clock. I decided to go with the Sweet Corn and Capsicum Fritters ($15), which came served with avocado salsa salad and a home-made chilli jam.
The fritters were wonderfully soft and chunky; well-seasoned but not overly-salty. They were good on their own with the creamy avocado salsa salad but extra zesty with the home-made chilli jam. While it probably didn’t have as much of a kick of heat that I was expecting, it was quite sweet, smoky and very flavoursome. It was the perfect portion size.
As I was also feeling a little sniffly that weekend, for my beverage I chose an Immunity Boost ($7) – a freshly blended mix of orange, grapefruit and mint. Refreshing and vitamin-rich.
I was very satisfied and full at this stage, but Joanna insisted on me trying one of her dairy-free muffins, which she says are the cafe’s most popular items. She bakes them herself; not having any particular recipes in mind, but changing and modifying to suit customer suggestions or what’s in season. She gave me a dairy-free Strawberry & Almond muffin, made with organic wholemeal flour, soy milk, organic eggs, sunflower oil, and she sprinkled almond meal on top to give it a crumble-like texture.
It was wonderfully tasty and moreish; having such a fragrance and aroma that you wouldn’t even suspect it’s dairy-free – who would have thought having no butter could still make it taste so good?? :)
Spoonful Cafe & Living
97 Military Road
Neutral Bay NSW 2089
(02) 9909 3119