As far as cafes go, Serotonin Eatery has lofty ambitions. It aims to make people happy with foods that promote the release of serotonin, a brain chemical that regulates mood, sleep pattern, appetite and other aspects of everyday life.

Wellness enthusiasts are already flocking in, but sceptics will inevitably wonder: can a cafe really make patrons happy in a more meaningful way than a coffee-and-smashed-avocado-induced sort of happiness?

Owner Emily Hazell believes so, and she’s done her homework with the help of nutritionists, food scientists and psychologists. Hence the multi-pronged approach, which includes the food itself, wide windows to permit mood-boosting natural light and exercise in the form of on-site personal training with Hazell’s brother, Gus Arundel. Customers can even take their breakfast to the adjacent park with a supplied picnic basket. From next year, the front room will be used to run two-hour wellness education talks (book through the website).

The thing is, while exercise and a bit of sun are clearly beneficial, the science behind using food to release meaningful amounts of serotonin is still inconclusive.

Whether or not you buy into the premise isn’t important, though. Serotonin Eatery has plenty going for it regardless.

As you might expect, the menu is healthy and mostly plant-based. A prime example is the Nutrition Bomb, a colourful bowl filled with poached egg, broccoli, hummus, sprouts, nuts, sauerkraut and pickles. “You don't have to pick the healthy option on the menu, because the whole menu is guilt-free,” Hazell says.

But as at other meat-free cafes, such as Admiral Cheng-Ho and Monk Bodhi Dharma, this abundance of vegetarian options doesn’t feel as though bacon is being wrenched forcefully from your grasp.

Dishes such as banana-flour pancakes or twice-baked beans on rye, for example, don’t come over as studiously healthy or vegetarian. They’re just tasty breakfasts. And chef Sean Muir (ex-Oli & Levi) knows a thing or two about presentation.

The space is pleasant, too, thanks to Hazell’s background in graphic design and interior architecture. “I wanted it to be a very sensory experience,” she says of the sharp fit-out, which is all soothing colours and hexagonal tiles, the latter being a nod to serotonin’s chemical structure. This theme continues in the tableware, with pretty hexagon-etched plates, beaker jugs and gold cutlery.

There’s also seven styles of seating, including some novel but impractical Japanese matting, which forces staff to kneel and lean to give service (we’ll see if it’s still there in a year) and swings suspended from the ceiling. If rocking back and forth over breakfast can’t put a smile on your face, nothing will.

Serotonin Eatery
52 Madden Grove, Burnley
0421 233 150

Wed to Fri 7am‒4pm
Sat & Sun 8am‒4pm
(Kitchen closes at 3pm)