Waffles come sugar-free at This is Life, a new cafe on Brighton Road, straddling the border of Elwood and Balaclava. They’re made with beetroot and a gluten-free grain called teff, topped with crushed green peas and avocado, roasted tomatoes and finger lime.
The cafe is just one part of what owners Michaela Menichelli and husband Ashley Campbell-Bird describe as a “wellness emporium”, with a nutritionist, physiotherapist, chiropractor and mindfulness workshops also housed under the same roof. The pair intends to enlist a Chinese medicine doctor soon too.
“As a patient you usually enter a clinic, tell the receptionist you’ve arrived and sit down to flick through a magazine or look at your phone,” says Menichelli of traditional health clinics. “There’s no social interaction with other patients at all, and we believe there should be."
“Various health issues and tips should be shared and that’s what we’re trying to promote here. Somewhere you can see a specialist, grab a coffee, maybe a bite too and discuss health in an open community."
On the ground floor, you’ll find the cafe, and a private room for physio and chiropractic work (Campbell-Bird is the This is Life’s chiropractor). On the first floor, This is Life holds workshops such as mindfulness and kids yoga. Nutritionist Lola Berry and holistic health coach Lee Holmes recently held classes there.
Clinical nutritionist Katherine Hay works with patients and consults on the cafe menu, which features dishes catering to vegan, paleo, vegetarian, gluten-free and low-FODMAP needs.
Head chef Cate Robertson (who has spent time in kitchens at The Press Club, Matteo and The Point) is serving up, for example, lamb marinated in lemon myrtle and bush pepper, served with heirloom tomatoes, quinoa and a harissa dressing.
There's also a turmeric rosti with kale and cashew pesto, broccolini, almond dukkah and a poached egg. Colourful smoothies include the Powerhouse, a mix of dragon fruit, berries, banana, bee pollen and coconut water, and Naughty & Nice, a combination of banana, peanut butter, rice malt syrup, zucchini and coconut milk.
Menichelli, who has a young daughter, is keen to educate children and their parents about the benefits of eating healthy – without sacrificing taste. On the kids menu that means vegetable bolognaise with zucchini noodles.
This Is Life
109 Brighton Road, Elwood
(03) 9531 5050
Tue to Thur 7am–7pm
Sat and Sun 8am–3pm