I walked into the Woodbox Café at West Burleigh and felt right at home. There’s that spacious ‘earth mother’ vibe going on which is rare on the Gold Coast: that of a large open country kitchen, where the bread is freshly baked, the heady aroma of coffee wafts through the room, produce picked in the garden outside has been placed casually on the table, and the fire in the open hearth has just been stoked.
The café is a labour of love for Shannon Cosentino, who wanted to share her enjoyment of healthy food and a balanced lifestyle with the people who visit.
The Woodbox is very organic in focus, not only as a meeting place for groups, but also in the food and beverage served. Sourcing as much organic produce as possible from local suppliers, the café specialises in organic and vegan options, free of preservatives, sugar, wheat, dairy and gluten. ‘Clean eating’, as Shannon calls it, with loads of flavour.
We choose lunch from the delicious display in a glass-fronted cabinet: macadamia and quinoa tart with salad, organic sausage rolls, lentil and salad burgers, to name a few options. With all dishes made in house from scratch, both savoury and sweet, there are loads of great choices. You can choose food to go as well, but the place is, for us, too inviting to leave.
A range of smoothies, freshly made juices, smooth Merlo organic coffee, and Merlo teas, complements the food. Served in vintage crockery and silver cutlery, the chai arrives in a teapot for one. It’s just another detail completing the perfect picture of what could be a food magazine shoot.
Woodbox blends right in to its century old heritage listed building, its bay windows lined with deco stained glass. Even though, in reality, there’s not a fireplace in sight, there is the huge distressed limed kitchen table and pressed metal chairs common in so many colonial kitchens, freshly baked muffins and cakes on the counter overlooked by shelves of gift and collectible items lining one wall. The café’s name ‘Woodbox’, also reinforces the earthy feel. It carries connotations of being wholesome, a part of Mother Nature, the heart of the home. It’s not only the organic symbol of the tree, but also that of the wooden firewood box: the source of kindling to provide warmth to the house and heart.
Shannon brings a lot of herself to the café: her professional background and commitment to service, an interest in exercise, nutrition and the psychology of good health, as well as her own styling, often using items from her own home.
“I had a vision to create a space where people could enjoy a beautiful meal and a great coffee in an enjoyable place…and I did!” she says. “I wanted to show that life is balance, with healthy food, and people caring for each other. I wanted everyone to feel at home.”
As Shannon talks, I glance to the back of the room, where the spindly branches of a dead tree reach towards the ceiling, its naked branches adorned by fairy lights. It’s an ‘ageless beauty’ scenario, surrounded by battered wood, a well-worn easy chair and earthiness. It does not surprise me that various groups have embraced the femininity of this café, making it their own for breast cancer fundraisers, baby shower parties, high teas or birthdays.
Somehow, as I leave the Woodbox Café, I feel brighter, affirmed as a person; reminded that, as Shannon says, “Life is beautiful.”
UPDATE AUGUST 2012: In recent months, Shannon has extended the café, creating a function room. It’s a beautiful space which, Shannon explains, is still evolving. A menu addition is High Tea – the only vegan and/or gluten alternative that we know of on the Coast. Girls, let’s celebrate!
15/33 Tallebudgera Creek Road, West Burleigh
Ph: 07 5607 0808 Mob: 0410609135
You’ll find a full article about vegetarian and vegan restaurants here.