Dreams sometimes come true. At least that’s the case for husband and wife team Monica Tjong and Gabriele Pirotta. The pair had always dreamed that one day they might own a little café in the ‘burbs. Gabriele, a chef in Italy before he emigrated to Australia about seven years ago, waited for his residency before marrying Monica. With both of them working in Baritalia, Surfers Paradise, it was a bitter sweet day when they announced their plans.
Their new café, opened at the very end of 2015, is tucked away in a little shopping centre in Clear Island Waters. Goji Granola Bar & Café is an unusual (if self-explanatory) name, so we asked Monica how the name came about.
“I used to work in hospitality and we made granola all the time. It was really popular. The trouble was that when we served it to people with dried fruit already mixed in, some people didn’t like some things and others were allergic to nuts. We thought it would be a great idea to be able to choose what fruit and nuts you wanted in your house made granola. We’ve got two versions: a dairy-free vegan one made from oats, barley and spelt; or you can choose the gluten-free (DF and V) version with buckwheat, quinoa and rice flake combo, cooked with coconut nectar sugar and oil. We top it off with our CoCo Soft (a vegan, dairy and gluten free, organic frozen yoghurt made on coconut water) and add fresh fruit on top.”
It’s exactly the breakfast I choose, with the addition of activated charcoal marbled through the Coco Soft. Nothing to lose!
“We’re the first café in Australia or New Zealand to use activated charcoal in our Coco Soft,” Monica tells us, “so we’re pioneers.”
Running an ‘all day’ breakfast and lunch menu, the Granola Bowl is certainly the star. But there are many other options. Order according to your appetite, from Banana and walnut bread topped with Coco Soft ($5) or Eggs on Sourdough ($8) through to the Big Brekkie, or its lunchtime version Haloumi Burger with smoked salmon, scrambled eggs, rocket and red onion ($19.50). No meal crosses the $20 line, a marvel for a little place with true hospitality including full table service.
While health is the main focus of the menu, there’s a valiant attempt to cater for all tastes, gluten and dairy free, vegan and organic dishes clearly marked with symbols.
But don’t be dismayed, sweet tooths! There are plenty of treats for you, including raw slices, acai and coco bowls, chocolate brownies and even donuts.
There’s great coffee to be enjoyed as well from local award-winning roaster Silipo Coffee. It’s the Italian blend, Nero, made from three beans: Costa Rican, Colombian and Nicaraguan, its spicy peppery berry tones rounded off with a chocolatey finish. It’s the most Italian of their blends, Gabriele says, a dark roast perfect for espresso drinkers.
The drinks list also holds a range of smoothies and juices, organic Somage Tea, and bottled kombucha and Hrvst cold-pressed juices.
This neighbourhood café is dog, family and wheelchair friendly; a place to relax and read magazines and books, use wifi, or for kids to play games and activities provided in a vintage suitcase. Best of all, Monica and Gabriele are hospitable, and it’s a friendly little place perfect to have around the corner in the ‘burbs. A dream come true for Clear Island Waters residents, we’d reckon!
NOTE: Although Goji’s menu carries an all-day breakfast and lunch, it’s their outrageous ‘Artisan & Boutique Soft Serve, Acai Bowls & Make Your Own Granola Bowl’ that has gone absolutely viral. Must be seen to be believed!
7/60 Santa Cruz Boulevard, Clear Island Waters Ph: 0414 428 773
Open: Mon – Sun 6am – 4pm