11th April 2016
52 Madden Grove
Richmond, VIC 3121
My sister and I have the worst luck when it comes to brunches. Out of about 5 attempts we’ve ever made to have brunch in our neck of the woods, about half of them have been thwarted by last minute closures. Today’s case was Trei Cafe – a hot new brunch place in Glen Waverley that just happened to be closed for electrical renovations on the day we visited.
Unwilling to go back home to baked beans on toast, we made our way out to Serotonin Eatery in Richmond. Although located in a very non-descript section of suburban Richmond, this cafe has nevertheless made a huge splash in the Melbourne foodie community by promising food that raises levels of the feel-good hormone, serotonin. But the cafe is only step 1 of 3 of their program to increasing serotonin the natural way; the Serotonin Dealers also offer tailored personal training sessions, as well as an educational program on happiness, designed in conjunction with doctors, psychologists, and dieticians.
As a pharmacist, I naturally have a lot to say about this whole concept. I believe that for a lot of people, antidepressants are both necessary and extremely crucial to mental wellbeing. With that said however, I also think that a majority of people should take the non-pharmacological route before turning to medication. And whilst it has yet to be proven if certain foods can raise serotonin levels, the link between a wholesome diet, plenty of exercise, and mindfulness, to mental wellbeing is backed up by plenty of scientific studies. In fact, regular moderate exercise has been shown to be as effective as antidepressants in mild to moderate cases of depression. Can you tell that I’ve recently done further studies in mental health pharmacology?
At any rate, being inside Serotonin Eatery certainly put me in a good mood. The cafe is beautifully airy and light, with brightly coloured flowers and lush greenery adorning every surface. Everything is thought out carefully to bring joy, from the raised tatami-styled couches to the window bays filled with sunshine. If you’re lucky, you may even be able to nab one of the swing chairs in the courtyard out back.
Make no mistake, this cafe is fully vegetarian, and vegan on request. With items on the menu called The Nutrition Bomb, Positive Pancakes, and Organic Acai Shake, this place is unsurprisingly very popular with the health-nuts. On the day we visited, there were definitely more ladies in active-wear than people in street clothes. I on the other hand was still a little grumpy at having my brunch-bacon taken away from me so unceremoniously; let’s see just how well this serotonin-increasing food works.
Oh and look at how cool the cutlery is! King Midas would have approved.
Thankfully these Serotonin Dealers still believe in caffeine, and they serve up a mean Flat White ($4) too. Strong and nutty, this was a smooth brew that went down a treat.
My sister on the other hand delighted in her Matcha Latte ($7). Lightly sweetened, this concoction of organic green powder in frothy milk was clean and grassy, with an added hint of warmth from the cinnamon smile.
The Positive Pancakes ($22) were much more than their name suggested (because really, all pancakes are positive pancakes). Instead of flour, these pancakes were meticulously made with freeze-dried bananas ground into banana ‘flour’. As I had expected, this meant that the pancakes were soft and dense, as opposed to fluffy and airy. But that wasn’t a problem at all, as the overall mouth feel was still quite light.
Flavour-wise, these were some of the best pancakes I’ve ever had. The soft banana pancakes tasted amazing with the tangy berry coulis, and the scoop of ‘nice-cream’ (also made with bananas) kept the healthy-yet-indulgent thing they have going. Topped with some organic agave and a sprinkling of roasted almonds, this fabulous plate of pancakes was like a fruit salad and dessert rolled into one. Pancake Parlour, take note!
My life philosophy of when in doubt, go with avocado served me well here. The Smashed Avo, Pea and Mint ($17) with Poached Eggs ($4) looked as gorgeous as it tasted.
This was a delicious mess of flavours, the toast topped with an abundance of treats. The creamy avocado and minty smashed peas were brought to life by the whipped feta, juicy tomatoes, and sweet beetroot relish. Top that with sliced chillies and a couple of gorgeously runny yolks, and you have what’s possibly the best avo dish in Melbourne.
By the time I had finished my meal, I was in an inexplicably good mood, even taking into consideration the fact that I’d just eaten a delicious brunch. Everything about this place is deliberately engineered to put you into a good mood, and I have to say that it seems to work! And extra kudos for the staff is also warranted, as they were like little rays of sunshine themselves.
(But just very quietly: as great as serotonin is, and as much as I didn’t miss the meat at all, how about a side of bacon for those days where you need a dopamine hit?)
Rating: 15/20 – stuffed with goodness.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.