Inspired by his business partner Jacob Burke’s Palaeolithic-diet-driven weight loss and the "funky, healthy" cafes of Hollywood, Tom Davidson has created Patch Cafe, Melbourne’s first paleo eatery.
Davidson, a personal trainer, sometimes model and former AFL footballer, says the place aims to, "Feed people healthy and tasty food" in a relaxed, unpretentious environment. "Some of the health cafes out there are a little bit extreme," he says. "Healthy eating should be fun, not a chore."
Despite the seemingly restrictive premise of the hunter-gatherer diet – that only natural products grown in the earth and undeveloped by humans can be consumed – eating at Patch is nothing like hard work. The smart, high-ceilinged interior combines modern-day industrial with a faint nod to ‘60s Scandinavia. Its centrepiece is a long service area and open kitchen: a blur of multi-tasking chefs and sizzling pans that Davidson says highlights Patch’s, "Ethos of natural food."
Word of mouth and novelty ensured the place was "slammed" on its opening weekends. Now things have calmed to a constant stream of foodies, on-game professionals, athletes and those interested in healthy living. There’s a feel-good buzz that can be attributed to the friendly, energetic staff as much as to the clientele and the clean, as-nature-intended meals they’re tucking into.
Food is locally sourced, and, on the whole, excellent. The all-day menu (changing seasonally) has a modern-Asian influence, ranging from accessible breakfast numbers (chili eggs with bacon, avocado and “paleo toast”; banana and almond hotcakes with lemon yoghurt), to mains (chargrilled wagyu and sweet potato, pork belly; daikon tuna rolls) that will be further enhanced when paired with an organic wine or craft beer once a liquor licence is obtained.
For the adventurous there’s the Gulyásleves, a rousing Hungarian beef soup, and Davidson says the spanner crab omelette has, like the chili eggs, "Been killing it.” The house-made Bircher muesli, with activated almonds and chia seeds, will keep Pete Evans and his ilk happy. Coffee, meanwhile, comes direct from Brunswick’s Code Black and is served in classic ‘50s-era cups.
It’s not often you can leave a cafe after a big breakfast without that grease-lipped, bloated feeling. But that’s one of Patch Cafe’s charms: moreish food without the guilty aftertaste.
Studio Nine, 32 Bendigo Street, Richmond
(03) 9029 0328
Mon to Sun 7am–4pm