The little enclave of shops in Brooke Avenue, Chirn Park has become quite a foodie haven. With plenty of parking around, it’s a popular lunch spot, yet there’s been a sizeable turnover of cafes during the past couple of years. The longest-running cafe there is Meraki Whole Food Kitchen, dating back to 2016.
Meraki’s founding principles are written in its name. Founder Evelyn Ellis named the café ‘Meraki’ from the Greek verb ‘to do something with soul, creativity, or love’, working with her family and Nicole Joy to create a menu based on raw, gluten-free whole food.
“We focus on raw clean eating,” Evelyn told us. “We make everything on the premises – cashew cream hollandaise, sauces and dressings, as well as the raw cakes.”
Three years on, a trio of new owners took over Meraki late in 2019. All seasoned hospitality workers, they have brought to their first restaurant the passion we saw in Meraki’s beginnings, the owners pouring their enthusiasm into the client interface, employing as Head Chef Amelia Gaddum, who had worked with Evelyn for several years.
The food scene has changed a great deal since Meraki started and, in keeping with that, Meraki’s food has progressed. There is a wholefood menu with a ton of vegan and gluten-free options but, even better, the food is so tasty and produce-driven that it carries broad appeal to mainstream diners looking for food and service that’s well above average.
We’re greeted by Sunil ‘Sunny’ Jangra, one of the owners, his face a welcoming beacon. True to form, he’s darting about serving customers, making recommendations and telling us about the house-branded single origin organic Colombian he delivers to our table. It’s ‘Jungle Bean’ and it packs a firm chocolatey punch.
Of course, we order Sunny’s favourite dish! Full of goodness, our Moroccan Chicken Salad includes a medley of brown rice, quinoa and chick peas with smoky spiced chicken breast, roasted cauliflower and asparagus with avocado and rocket, finished off with roasted seeds and zoodles, luxe ingredients such as pomegranate seeds and cranberries drizzled with a tahini dressing. This is my dish of the month, a ‘destination’ dish that turns heads as it is delivered to the table, a dish that stands out in memory as a perfect complementary combination of flavours, a dish to come back to.
Plated up, dishes are generous, good value (mostly under $20) and shareable enough to avoid the ‘meal envy’ that will certainly follow.
Açai bowls carry the layered goodness of fresh fruit, nuts and coconut; burgers are packed with the flavour of a real Angus beef patty, bacon, caramelized onion and house-made chipotle slaw and greens on a sweet vegan brioche bun, the side of lattice fries a crispy delight topped off with smoky sea salt and a smear of charcoal black sesame-laced labneh.
If we could pick one area alone where Chef Amelia shines it’s in the gluten-free baking: faultlessly moist doorstop slices of GF banana bread and muffins walk out the door by the tray; fluffy Banana-Date Pancakes are topped with strawberries and caramelized banana, crunchy grain-free granola and seasonal fruit topped with beams of light cinnamon Coyo ice cream and a moreish date caramel sauce. They’re the lightest GF pancakes we’ve eaten.
“It’s all about the gluten-free flour you choose,” Chef Amelia tells us, as I shake my head in recognition of the skills it takes to make GF baking taste this good!
Besides the extensive men, there’s a cabinet of food to go, with raw treats, muffins, protein balls and cakes all made in house.
Meraki asks us to “Come with us on a journey of good food, good company in a great environment.”
Yet it is more than this. Meraki is about fulfilling dreams of providing great wholesome food that everyone can enjoy with great service to match, all in a casual environment. It takes passion, soul and creativity to achieve this. You’ve got to love that!
NOTE: Meraki is open for group bookings. Discuss your needs with the owners.
Good Food Gold Coast dined as a guest of Meraki.
1/ 55 Brooke Ave, Chirn Park Ph: 07 5503 0340
Open: Mon – Sun 6.30am – 2pm (Kitchen closes 1pm)