After a bad bout of illness, chef Anthony Milotic directed his newfound passion for wellness into Rough & Bare, the Mona Vale wholefoods cafe he opened in October 2015. “I wanted to create somewhere where I could educate the community about what I’d learned from nutritionists and all the reading I’ve done,” he says.

Rough & Bare’s menu reflects Milotic’s new understanding of health. “We have the philosophy of high fat, moderate protein, and low carbs,” says Milotic, who consults with Tania Flack and two more naturopaths, Damian Kristof in Melbourne and Helen Padarin in Sydney, to create balanced, nutrient-dense dishes that are free from gluten, refined sugar and vegetable oils.

A focus on health has not required any compromise in taste. Standout picks from the menu include porchetta and eggs for breakfast, slow-cooked rolled pork belly and two pasture-range poached eggs served with baby kale, spiced sweet-potato puree, kimchi and crackle crumb. For lunch there’s a spiced-pumpkin salad with quinoa, broccoli, purple cabbage, dulse flakes, black sesame, amaranth popcorn and apple-cider dressing. The provenance of produce is a priority for Milotic: meat on the menu is grass-fed, seafood is wild-caught and fruit and vegetables are organic.

The drinks list is just as health-focused. Pablo & Rusty’s organic coffee is served with Demeter biodynamic milk, or almond or coconut milk for non-dairy drinkers (soy is not offered on health grounds). Cold-pressed juice, smoothies, “brothies” – made from the bone broth that Milotic considers integral to his recovery – kefir and kombucha are also available.

For the interior, Surry Hills studio Giant Design’s brief was to create a space that reflected the food: fresh and healthy. Taking cues from Scandinavian and industrial design, the result is a light, open space featuring polished concrete floors and plenty of plants. A deliberate decision to not provide wi-fi is intended to encourage people to connect with each other at the cafe’s communal table. “It’s a great space to come and relax,” says Milotic. “I want everyone to interact with each other, and talk about food with strangers rather than sitting there by themselves.”

Rough & Bare
Shop 1/1 Bungan Lane, Mona Vale
(02) 9999 1950

Mon to Sun 7am–4pm