Wholefood, superfood, simply amazing food in the CBD
As a gluten-intolerant person who also avoids eating sugar, eating out is a royal pain. So, when I discovered Thrive, I got very excited. Thrive specialises in wholefoods, superfoods, and simply good food.
Thrive: real food, always gluten free, no added sugar
Amid the many offerings of the Emporium food court, Thrive stands out for its paleo approach to a healthy, delicious and affordable lunch. This means it's gluten-free and veggie-focused with portions of meat, and free from added refined sugar. And its popularity at lunchtime is testament to how great its results are.
I'm not used to being able to eat everything on the menu, so every time I come here I'm a kid in the proverbial candy shop – the fruit-only-with-added-kale kind of candy. I've made a point of trying a selection of what Thrive offers, and I've loved every minute. No matter your stance on the paleo argument, we can all agree that we should be eating more veggies and unprocessed foods. And Thrive makes that easy and enjoyable.
So, 5 reasons I love Thrive:
1. Perfect portion sizes and lots of veg.
While it's difficult to choose what you want, because you want it all, whatever you choose will have a perfect balance of meat and veg. Which means a small piece of meat and plenty of veggies. The Thrive Classic is a great place to start. It has a base of sweet potato mash and seasonal greens, then herbed chicken topped with basil pesto and roasted peppers. The Southern Soul is also great: wild and brown rice, pulled BBQ beef, kaleslaw, smashed avocado and spice tomato salsa.
Everything in these diches was fresh and vibrant. And I value places like Thrive that remind me that I don't need to eat as much meat as I do, and that veggies can be not just delicious, but sexy too.
2. Amazing Breakfasts.
Breakfast is available all day weekends, and until 11am on weekdays, and it's worth getting out of bed for.
Because, Bacon. Oh my, the bacon! Perfectly crispy and blistered on the outside, but with the meat still soft! I asked one of the friendly staff about it – how do they cook the bacon that wonderfully? He explained that it's their super-hot grill, and that he's tried many times to replicate it at home, but it can't be done. We lamented together; but at least we know where to come for the best bacon.
Sorry, The Rest of Brekky. You were great too, really. The paleo bread was delicious, very filling. The side of avocado and relishes, amazing, and the fritters were tasty. It all went so beautifully together.
4. Smoothies. Oh my, the smoothies.
To be honest, I may have overdone it on the smoothies. There's a deal on at the moment – a two for one smoothie deal between 2pm and 4pm. And, well, two smoothies might be more than I need for an afternoon snack. Or even for lunch.
The salted caramel is decadent. It's actually salted, with fresh banana, cashews and dates for the sweetness. This is a dessert smoothie, and I love every sip.
The green mango is sweet with the perfect amount of zing from the lime, and texture from the kale. No taste of kale, which is excellent – it's hidden under the mango. Ohhh mango. Avocado and almond milk are a fantastic base.
You can build your own smoothie exactly how you like it, however I've been happy to trust the experts to put them together for me. If you do want to build your own, the options are extensive: you can go crazy with superfood extras like maca, raw cacao, chia sees, pea or whey protein, then add tasty nut butter or spice, like cinnamon, turmeric, cashew butter, ginger or nutmeg.
And all this for $7 for a regular. That's barely more than a generic Boost Juice, and it packs way more of a nutritional punch! (But if you come between 2pm and 4pm for the 2-4-1 deal, well, it's just too good.)
The second time I went for smoothies, I did actually take a friend. This was a good thing, because drinking two on my own was a lot more than I needed. Sharing is caring. And I still got to try both, so I was happy.
This time we tried the very berry and the salted caramel again, because I couldn't get enough of it the first time. Salted caramel is still coming in first place, but I'll keep working my way through them all until I know for sure that it's the best.
4. Tasty buns.
'Buns of Glory' they call them, and a pun with a bun it's always a winner.
The 'Notorious P.I.G' puts pulled pork and kaleslaw inside the signature Thrive bun, and it is delicious. These buns are filling but not dense, a complex bun, not just a pretty face. And the fillings are fresh and tasty. It looked like a small meal to me, but it was exactly as much as I needed.
I did not think the coffee here could be excellent too. It seemed too much to ask. However, Thrive continues to delight me. The coffee has chocolate and hazelnut tones and is absolutely delicious – the perfect way to end a breakfast. Now I feel like I have to do something exceptional with the day!
Okay, so I'm a little addicted to Thrive. I love this place. I love being able to find reliable, affordable wholefoods right in the centre of Melbourne's craziest shopping arena. I love that they promote eating plenty of veggies, and make this a joy, not a chore.
Thrive is found in the Emporium food court on the 3rd floor. It's a beautiful place to eat, and by far the nicest food court Melbourne has to offer. It's airy and spacious, a great place to feel good about eating healthily when you're out and about in the CBD.