After a personal health scare Phil Dawson changed his lifestyle. He became interested in nutrition and holistic health, and he’s keen to offer the same opportunity to his local community via his wholefoods cafe, Ruby Lane. The new Manly cafe takes a health-based approach that extends beyond “the good fats and healthy, fibrous fruits and vegetables” on the menu. Though, there’s plenty of that, too. “We’ve got two yoga instructors, one piloxer (a combination of Pilates and boxing), one nutritionist and a part-time sustainability advisor,” says Dawson. The venture includes breakfast and lunch service (with plans for dinner in the future) in the restaurant; a grocer providing the majority of the products used at Ruby Lane; and a community-involvement timetable, with events and classes.
The menu was developed by Dawson and head chef Ben Horn, formerly of the Icebergs group and a recently trained nutritionist, over the past few years. It includes dehydrated cookie garnishes for smoothies; coconut pulled pork in place of bacon; mixed mushrooms sautéed with bone marrow; and nut butters freshly ground on-site. Bread is provided by a local bakery, and all meats and eggs are organic. On Ruby Lane’s broad drinks list, there’s The Ruby Rifle, a double espresso blended with butter and coconut oil, and a Golden Latte: turmeric, cinnamon and other spices blended with coconut oil. There’s kombucha, cold-pressed juices and salad bowls. All funds from sparkling water, at $2 per litre, go to the Manly Sea Life Trust’s Save the Turtle program.
“I want to make an impression to affect change in the way people eat out,” says Dawson. “But you’ve got to have a fun, awesome place to do that, so we’re trying not to take ourselves too seriously at the same time.”