On the Northern Beaches, proudly beachfront positioned on The Strand at Dee Why, stands a cafe that is revolutionising food; Girdlers Cafe. Their philosophy: Simple, Honest, Goodness.
Football fans may recognise the familiar name from NRL. Indeed if you thought this, you're precisely on point. The cafe is owned by ex-professional football player Ryan Girdler, his partner Katja, and their business partner, Sebastian. In fact, the team have opened three cafes across the Northern Beaches found at Dee Why, Warringah Mall and Manly.
I visited the Dee Why location for a girls lunch for my mother's birthday. Girdlers promises wholesome, mainly gluten-free, food. My Mum, little sister and I are into this scene. Green smoothies, kombucha, switchel, gluten free, dairy free and sugar-free foods are staples in our homes. This scene however made one of my Aunty's quite nervous. After glancing over the menu out the front - purely for my Aunties to see what was on offer as Mum had already decided on this cafe - we ignored any hesitation from the group and stepped over the threshold into Penze family Narnia.
The cafe is positioned on a corner block with al fresco seating options. Being that there was a cool breeze we opted for tables inside. The layout of Girdlers is maximised to draw your eye to the ocean, with glassed wall frontage and the tree-lined street the only thing separating you from the dazzling blue ocean beyond.
The decor is beach boho chic with polished concrete floor, wooden tables and white chairs ensuring the furniture stays timeless and tidy. The walls are crisp white weatherboard and an exposed brick feature wall runs along the back wall. My favourite detail has to be the tiled columns. The tiles are painted in tropical and nautical themes, featuring anchors, palm leaves, palm trees and pineapples. I was going to take a photo but I became distracted by the aromas of the dishes and drinks around me.
The menu is quite extensive and the cafe does an excellent job at catering for people with intolerances or allergies. Girdlers uses local suppliers to support their community and encourage sustainability. One Aunty was captivated by a dish passing her by on our way in and stopped the waitress to ask what it was, Smashed Avocado, $12, already setting her mind on that. My sister and I chose the Double Trouble, $19 (with a side of avocado $2) each. My Mum decided on a crepe, Salmon, $21, while my other Aunty continued to cast a dubious eye over the menu. After remarking on how healthy everything looked in a mildly bemused tone, she settled on a crepe also, Prosciutto, $21.
I ordered an espresso, instantly trusting their skills from the aromas wafting from the coffee machine. The rest of the table decided to branch out from coffee with a Defender Juice, $9 made with a mix of carrot, apple, lime, ginger and turmeric, indeed looking like it would defend against poor health, and two pots of tea; Black BeauTea Early Grey, $4.50 and HonesTea English Breakfast, $4.50. My Mum ordered a Turmeric Latte, $6 which automatically caters for those who are dairy free as it's made with coconut milk.
My espresso was smooth and creamy with hints of fruits, nuts and caramel. The espresso also came with sparkling water to cleanse the palate before indulging in caffeine. The coffee and teas were neatly presented on wooden trays, the juice in a mason jar with handle, and the turmeric latte in a glass cup. The drinks were visually appealing with each offering a distinct flair from sliced strawberry with the tea, to a dark chocolate ball with the espresso and shaved almonds with the turmeric latte.
NB: Girdlers make their own coffee blend, with beans sourced from fair traders and organic growers across the globe. You can even buy their All Good coffee blend in select Woolworths and Coles stores.
The food, like the drinks, came out quite efficiently. For those who like to savour their drink with their meal, the food came out at the perfect mid-drink time to do just that. The food was a feast for the eyes and the tastebuds. Each dish was artfully arranged on beautiful stone plates maximising their appeal through the display of colour. Bright purple against lime green, reds and yellows, each dish was a tantalising display of fresh produce at its finest. The visual display complemented the oral sensation. The flavours were fresh and dynamic. I was torn between wolfing down the food as it was so edible and savouring every bite for the same reason. Luckily for me, the dish was a decent proportion and I could enjoy the food even if I ate somewhat hurriedly in excitement.
My dish of Double Trouble was gluten-free and consisted of grilled chicken and halloumi, purple cabbage, heirloom tomatoes, vegenaise, chilli salsa, coriander and avocado wrapped in a soft corn tortilla. I could taste every ingredient, not one overpowered the other, as they all danced in perfect synchrony on my tastebuds.
I'm sure I sound like I am full of myself, full of this place, and perhaps I am, but I am so excited to have found a wholesome food cafe that is setting the food trends, not just following them. Not only is the cafe focused on wholesome food and drink that truly nourishes the body, but it also caters for those with severe allergies. The food is delicious with everyone at my table, even Aunt Scepticism, enjoying their meal and their drink. We all left too soon, yet, we all vowed to return. The views and decor alone would be enough to entice any passerby to wander in. It takes a truly innovative team to deliver a well rounded, wholesome food cafe to turn the passer-by, even the sceptic, into a regular. They promote their cafe as a lifestyle, and what a divine lifestyle it is.
NB: There is street parking on surrounding streets and car parking at the surf club nearby, all metered. Public transport to the Northern Beaches is limited.