For the first time in several years, the crunch is on for eateries with almost as many restaurants closing as opening. In 2018, cafés and restaurants are facing stiff competition for the food dollar. Prepared foods from grocery and convenience stores and meal delivery services continue to attract busy consumers who seek convenience over experience.
At the same time, diners are expecting greater diversity of product than ever before, plus the wow factor as part of the dining experience.
“…healthier menu options…locally sourced from organic and socially conscious producers, will challenge operators to adapt their menus in a cost-effective manner. Gluten free and paleo menus will also become more prevalent…Trends toward ethnic foods with bold or unique flavors is also likely to continue…” US trend watcher RSM tells us about 2018.
There are a lot of balls to juggle and keep in the air. Adaptability to meet market challenges is only one challenge. Reinvention is crucial, while still keeping your objectives in sight. And then there are the critics…
“If you as a restauranteur/chef are smashing your own goals and staying afloat then you deserve an award,” says Peter Dufty, commenting on recent dining awards.
Peter should know. As chef and business owner of Bundall’s Caffe Republic, he has been seeking a balance between promoting healthy eating and maintaining the mainstream appeal of his café since opening in 2009.
A classically trained ‘master chef’ who has jumped the culinary fence from haute cuisine (Cha Cha Char and Restaurant Bespoke in Brisbane, Peppers Spicers Peak Lodge and Palazzo Versace) to healthy eating, Pete’s specials board was always filled with paleo/keto dishes for those who chose them. Now there’s lifestyle integration in a menu littered with healthier food choices.
With an emphasis on flavour-filled wholefood, there’s a recognition that every single body is different. So, choosing your food with an informed conscience means choosing food that suits and is good for your body.
Gluten-free, dairy-free, paleo, keto and vegetarian choices are all clearly marked. Homemade, raw, plant-based nutritious food. At Caffe Republic, it’s beautifully presented as well.
“Every ingredient in our meals is there for a reason – to nourish you with food that your body will thank you for,” Pete says.
The ‘All Day Brekkie’ section contains signature classics such as Eggs Bene, as well as new adaptations to gut friendly food: a seasonal fruit bowl with Açai coconut whip, organic raw paleo granola and açai berry coulis; Stuffed mushrooms and poached eggs on golden cauliflower flatbread with beetroot hummus, walnut tabouli and Persian feta.
There’s recognition too that we don’t all need large meals, with a ‘Lighter Bites’ section containing choices such as Paleo seed toast (my favourite) with smashed avocado, confit tomatoes & flax seed dukkah, a Sweet potato ‘toast’ with roast beetroot hummus and Persian feta, and Bubble & squeak.
A blackboard brings weekly specials, a tempting change for locals to try and a testing platform for the constantly evolving menu.
In the cabinet inside you can pick from a diverse range of homemade raw, vegan and paleo treats, crisp fresh salads, Pete’s Pickups, to take away with your juice, smoothie, or the café’s own blend of espresso.
Caffe Republic is a local hero. With its green wall of inspiration, Caffe Republic’s menu maintains mainstream appeal, yet it reflects a deeper mindfulness about what we eat. There’s a food philosophy that’s here for the long term: “Love the food that loves you back” encourages us to smash our own food goals.
Let food be your medicine!
(Updated October 2018)
FROM THE ARCHIVES – August 2012:
Caffe Republic in Bundall is a treasure, and for us an expected surprise! Driving past Bronberg Plaza every day on the way to work, there’s nothing to really catch your eye, so when I suggested that we stop there for a quick birthday brekkie on our way to work, it was more for convenience than anything else. No big expectations.
How wrong could I be!
Before I start, I’ve got to set the scene. I’d done a bit of a whinge about breakfast quality lately, and it’s my birthday. Tough call! Poached eggs on doorstop white bread just doesn’t cut it with me, even if you add bacon or smoked salmon, hollandaise sauce out of a bottle, or even if you present me with a half decent omelette with cheddar cheese…Get my drift? Where’s the adventure; the journey we wish to take into unfamiliar territory?
I’m looking for something excitingly different, and I rarely find it. Give me Baked eggs “chachouka” served with Merguez sausage, Tunisian relish and pide, or Baked Spanish omelette with chat potato, Persian fetta, peas, shallots, basil pesto and pide, or even Spiced Passata beans with chorizo. Savoury, mystical, the travelling food suitcase – all at breakfast! Will I get that in Bundall? As I said, no high hopes.
I’ve got to admit that once inside, Caffe Republic is far more pleasant than it looks from the street. With red couches and khaki walls, splashed with the eye-catching red and white war era logo, it’s a sunny spot to relax in the morning away from the daily grind. The menu looks pretty interesting, but when the food arrives, our expectations are blown out of the water.
The Main Squeeze ordered Truffled mushrooms, spinach and goat cheese on Turkish with two poached eggs and balsamic reduction, which arrived featuring the United Nations – four types of fresh mushrooms: shitake, oyster, enoki and button, all fresh, truffled and beautifully presented. My Breakfast Bruschetta, with chunks of diced tomato, feta, olives and pesto served with crispy bacon and a poached egg was a deliciously fresh and tasty tower, somehow keeping meal envy at bay, all washed down with a mug of mellow House blend Piazza Doro coffee..
Given the food quality, freshness and presentation, we see the menu in a different light: a special of Grilled bacon and chorizo with eggs, goat cheese, rocket and bean sauce all wrapped and toasted in a flour tortilla with guacamole on the side (now that’s a return trip!), Homemade banana bread (gluten and dairy free if you wish), Crispy bacon poached eggs, hollandaise on bubble and squeak (and you can bet that the hollandaise is not out of a jar!), or Toasted muesli laced with goji berries and chia. All dishes are made in house and fresh to order.
Judging by breakfast, we’ll also have to investigate lunch, or even their catering for a special event. A little research would have told us that owners Peter and Leena Dufty bring their experience in Cha Cha Char and Restaurant Bespoke in Brisbane, Peppers Spicers Peak Lodge and Palazzo Versace on the Gold Coast, together with an enthusiastic team, to this humble suburban establishment. So the quality of the food should come as no surprise.
Reviewing food establishments is a lot like reading books: you get the idea that there’s something fabulous just around the corner that you’ve missed, something that you’ve not heard about yet, maybe even something grand and exciting! Maybe ‘grand’ is taking it a bit far, but our brekkie at Caffe Republic was quite unexpectedly exciting, and we’ll be back for more!
Shop 1, Bronberg Plaza, 138 – 162 Slatyer Ave., Bundall Ph: 07 5539 3060