When I travel, one of my favourite things to do is to discover the local cuisine and dining hotspots. In Australia, we are spoilt for choice with a multiculturally-diverse culinary landscape. We celebrate the very best of fresh, local produce prepared with an array of aromatic flavours and textures. Paleo food is earning its street cred and more restaurants are now catering for the primal palate.
Food is a universal language that brings people together, and it’s a great way to bond with friends new and old. So I also love the fact that visiting local food spots is a way to meet new people.
I’m a big supporter of local businesses in the places that I visit, and I’m proud to take part in the American Express Shop Small campaign once again. It’s a national movement that supports the small guys – from restaurants and cafes to health food stores, butchers, fishmongers and delis. These are all places that I frequent for fresh produce whether at home or away.
I support this campaign because the more we support small businesses who are passionate about real food, the more we can enjoy healthy eating and dining options. Here’s a list of just a few paleo dining spots around Australia.
Disclaimer: I have not received any remuneration for taking part in the American Express Shop Small campaign.
Feast of Merit
“A contemporary take on slow food with a focus on seasonal, local and ethical fare”
New to the food scene is Melbourne’s Feast of Merit. Taking conscious eating to a whole new level, profits from the social enterprise are donated to YGAP – a not-for-profit social change organisation with a mission to end poverty.
True to its name – which represents the celebration of community and sharing – the menu draws on Middle Eastern flavours and is based on a farm-to-table philosophy. The restaurant has a close connection to its foods suppliers who are local farmers and producers sharing a passion for seasonal, ethical and sustainable food practices.
Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the menu is notably unique and tantalises the senses with ingredients such as locally foraged mushrooms, hot smoked ocean trout and green eggs.
For breakfast or brunch try the “Forbidden breakfast” with beech smoked bacon, fried eggs, rice hash (non-paleo), dressing and za’atar. Lunch is a selection of fresh salads with optional proteins such as Hopkins River Beef or Roasted Milawa Chicken.
Located in Richmond in the heart of Melbourne’s up and coming dining scene, a visit to Feast of Merit will leave you feeling good inside and out.
“A hidden culinary gem off the beaten track”
It’s been described as ‘sophisticated country dining at it’s best’ and this is a very good introduction. Grazing is located just out of Canberra in the small town of Gundaroo, and it celebrates the best of real food from the Canberra region. An award-winning restaurant, it’s the perfect place for a special celebration or a daytime food pilgrimage.
The restaurant opens on Thursday evenings and serves until Sunday lunch, feeding weekenders who will ‘love food’ and ‘travel often’.
The restaurant has its very own kitchen garden where many of the ingredients are sourced each morning, including free-range eggs from Grazing’s own chooks and ducks. It prides itself on fresh, seasonal produce and the menu changes as often as mother nature changes our food sources.
Menu items are wholesome and farm-to-table style. My top picks include the 18 hour slow-cooked pork belly, served with braised carrot, soubise, apple and prune and the de-boned quail with Grazing’s black pudding, roast pear and parsley root puree. Fish and offal meats are also on offer which is very primally pleasing.
Grazing is a country-style restaurant that demonstrates the versatility, richness and refinement of country style dining. Jump in your car, grab a friend and go for a country drive and hearty, memorable meal.
Palate Restaurant Bar
“Build your own with all your paleo favourites”
The palate was one of the first restaurants to embrace the paleo lifestyle and cater to people who are truly passionate about real, unprocessed food.
I have been fortunate to dine at Palate Restaurant (and its sister restaurant The Deck in Brighton) several times and each and every visit was enjoyable and memorable. The service is immaculate and they really understand real food, having forged relationships with some of the best local producers of real food in and around Melbourne.
The menu allows patrons to create their own breakfast or lunch plate. The palate has set a trend of paleo-specific menu items that are now followed by many of its neighbouring health-inspired eateries.
You can choose from the paleo menu or pick something from the standard menu (which is also predominately gluten-free). The build-your-own option is perfect for people with more specific diets and you can choose between a medium serve (5 items) or a large serve (7 items). There are plenty of protein options including salmon, bacon, chicken, lamb, prawns or steak. Couple with a selection of more than 15 salads and sides and you’re sorted.
The palate is in the heart of Melbourne’s renown shopping district just off Chapel Street. It’s the perfect place to refuel for breakfast or lunch.
“A one-stop-shop for the healthy foodie”
Nature’s Harvest is a health food store and café in one. It truly is a health destination and a visit there will likely leave you feeling cleansed and re-energised. Whether you are shopping for pantry products, fresh produce or looking for a nourishing meal or elixir, it has you covered.
The menu is extensive – covering everything from breakfast bowls, salads, warm dishes, smoothies, juices and a large selection of teas and coffees.
Many ingredients are made in house, like the house-made almond milk and the many choices of salad dressings. The salad bowls are garden fresh and look as vibrant as they are nourishing.
Nature’s Harvest is dedicated to providing information to patrons and educating the community on healthy living. Workshops are a regular event, and they also offer catering to local businesses. Also on site is the stores’ very own natural therapy practitioner, offering remedial massage and other healing treatments.
Leading the real food movement in Western Australia, Nature’s Harvest is the perfect place to recharge the batteries and kick-start your health.
Pee Wee’s at the Point
“Real, local and native food at its best”
With breathtaking views in natural surrounds, Pee Wee’s is a place to unwind, relax and enjoy some of Australia’s best cuisine.
The menu is a reflection of the local food scene and culture. It celebrates the freshest seafood and specializes in local wild-caught saltwater barramundi and banana prawns. It also draws on a tropical harvest of fruits and locally grown Asian vegetables, providing a palate for exquisite dining.
Its signature dish of ‘Coconut Crusted Crocodile Tail’ is a definite stand out, served with a yoghurt panna cotta, dukkah spices, green paw chutney and tropical salsa. Or try the ‘Kangaroo Carpaccio’ with stuffed truffle mushrooms, celeriac remoulade and caperberries.
My favourite dish is the oven-baked wild-caught NT saltwater barramundi, served with macadamia nut, herb and lemon myrtle crusted, dutch cream mash, steamed greens, sauce Vierge and dill oil. This dish (along with most others) is gluten-free, and any other dietary requirements can be catered for.
For an unforgettable and unique dining experience at the Top End, visit Pee Wee’s on the point and you won’t be disappointed.