I am often asked for recommendations on where to eat lunch in the Eastern suburbs. Surprisingly, eateries that offer 'clean' food are few and far between in this neck of the woods and I have until now struggled to provide a recommendation for a place that I would be eager to dine at without having to perform what I call 'menu gymnastics' (when eyes rolls when I begin to alter the ingredients of a meal on a menu). Enter Henley's Wholefoods. This cafe sneaked into the Eastern suburbs wholefoods scene with little fanfare and publicity in November 2013 but the feedback I had received from clients and friends has all been overwhelming positive. A couple of weeks ago I finally managed to get there and had the pleasure of interviewing co-owner Sophie Henley over a slow cooked lamb lunch.
Soulla: What was the catalyst for opening Henley's? Sophie: I saw a need in the market for something truly wholesome with a cafe feel. In particular I wanted to cater to people who had food intolerances. I grew up on a farm in Northern NSW where home-cooked nourishing meals made from scratch were a daily staple and this is what I wanted to provide in my cafe.
Soulla: What is your food ethos/philosophy? Sophie: in a word "Wholefoods!" We specifically didn't want to use a label such as 'Paleo'.
Soulla: Tell me about the provenance of your food (the meat, eggs, dairy and produce etc)? Sophie: We like to support local and small businesses as much as possible:
- The meat is all grass fed and finished from "The Meat Store" a few doors down on Oxford Street.
- The eggs are from Egganic [Soulla: this is where I get my eggs from too!]
- The milk is from Riverina Fresh. We use a lot of coconut cream and coconut yogurt too.
- The produce is all fresh from local farmers and almost all is certified organic.
- The salmon is farmed. [Soulla: I have put Sophie in contact with David from Canadian Way with a view to Henley's offering wild salmon in the future].
- We do not offer pork or bacon on the menu. I don't eat pork so it's not something that I have incorporated into the menu.
Soulla: what sweeteners do you use? Sophie: agave syrup and maple syrup.
Soulla: I noticed that you recently decided to introduce grains into your menu. Tell me about the reasons behind that. Sophie: I think certain grains are good for you. We were getting feedback from customers which indicated we needed to offer greater diversity and we want to cater for a more diverse range of people. The grains we offer are all properly prepared such as soaked quinoa and rye sourdough. We are currently trialling a sprouted bread too. Our pizza bases are actually grain-free and made from egg whites and coconut flour.
Soulla: With Paleo cafe just upstairs how do you see 2 wholefoods cafes operating in such close proximity? Sophie: we are different to Paleo Cafe in that 1) we are organic; 2) we can be more creative and flexible with our menu because we are not a franchise; and 3) we have totally different feel.
Soulla: Is all of the food prepared onsite? Sophie: Yes everything is prepared here from scratch except the coconut yogurt. We have an open kitchen with provides transparency.
Soulla: What meals are offered? Sophie: we currently offer breaksfast, lunch and snacks. Dinner is something we are looking into. We are open Monday to Saturday 6am - 4pm. Sundays 7:30am-4pm. [see photos of menu at bottom of post]
Soulla: How often does the menu change? Sophie: lunch changes every Wednesday, breakfast is more stable and changes less frequently.
Soulla: Plan for further stores? Sophie: Yes we hope to open in Oxford Street, Paddington, mid year.... and possibly Newtown after that. We are also currently servicing the cafe part of a supplement store called Performer Nutrition.
Soulla: What response have you had from the market since you opened in November? Sophie: We have been delighted with our growth since we opened especially since we have only promoted ourselves through social media and word of mouth!
Talking aside, I thoroughly enjoyed my slow cooked cumin rubbed lamb, with tzatziki and mint with a colourful 'Rainbow Action' salad and a latte. The meal was a really decent size, beautifully presented and delicious! And not dissimilar to what I would make at home.
Henley's Wholefoods is tucked away down the stairs from Paleo Cafe on Oxford Street Bondi Junction next to Snap Fitness (with an entrance on Grafton Street too). It has an an impressive menu, a bunch of super friendly staff and a lovely cafe feel.
I think the incorporation of wild salmon and pastured pork / bacon products into the menu would be a welcome addition. I'm not a huge fan of agave syrup (too high in fructose) and prefer maple syrup or raw honey as my sweeteners of choice but I appreciate how much more expensive the latter are. These small issues aside, I would highly recommend Henley's as a place to enjoy a beautiful wholefoods meal reminiscent of home, or as a place to catch up with friends over a coffee and a treat.
Have you eaten at Henley's Wholefoods yet? If so, what did you think? I would love to hear your feedback.
You can Like Henley's Wholefoods on Facebook and/or follow on Instagram.