Chocolate peanut-butter pancakes don’t sound like something that should be good for you. But at the Clean Treats Factory in Alexandria, they’re practically virtuous. Gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan, they contain pea protein, which, the menu helpfully points out, may lower blood pressure and aid in muscle repair.
The cafe is the latest project from Charlie de Haas, fitness model and health coach turned clean-eating entrepreneur. De Haas started Clean Treats in her kitchen in 2014, making gluten-, dairy- and refined sugar-free balls, and turning over about $200 a week. In 2017, the company has experienced 1000 per cent growth.
Clean Treats Factory opened last year in a large converted warehouse in the backstreets of Alexandria. The space is beautiful and looks more like the interior of an antiques store or bridal boutique than a cafe. White walls, mismatched tables, huge mirrors and squishy lounges are spread across the room, inhabited by a remarkably healthy-looking crowd.
De Haas calls the venue a “culinary day spa”. “This means we don't just offer gorgeous food, we’ve created a space that delights the senses, including visually, and created an overall experience that’s not just for eating … [it’s] a home away from home,” she says.
The menu is short and entirely plant-based. There are three brightly coloured superfood bowls – Power, Wellness and Nourish – filled with things such as quinoa, kale, zucchini noodles, radish, beetroot and avocado. The sweet potato fries are soft and flavoursome, served with a coconut herb dip that tastes convincingly like sour cream.
The counter is made up of a large glass case full of equally delicate and pretty sweet treats, including de Hass’s signature bliss balls, slices, peanut-butter cups and chocolatey bites.
The superfood lattes come in a rainbow of orange, greens and blues that look almost too pretty to drink. The Gypsy Rose Beetroot Latte, a bubblegum pink concoction topped with tiny fresh flower petals, is a popular feature on the business’s Instagram account. Social media has been a driving force for De Haas and the cafe, with more than 60,000 followers and a popular #charliesballs hashtag promoting her creations.
There are still some teething problems, though. The staff can get a little overwhelmed by the volume of customers, even on a Thursday morning, and on occasion they run out of ceramic coffee mugs. But there is a lot to enjoy here, even for non-vegans (or dedicated carnivores). The servings are huge and everything feels incredibly fresh.
There are plans to expand from the daytime offering, with dessert platters, wine, R’n’B Fridays and soul Sundays.
Clean Treats Factory
23–25 Doody Street, Alexandria
Mon to Sat 7.30am–3.30pm
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