- Cheap, tasty food
- Friendly staff with good coeliac knowledge
- Attitude/advice on oats inconsistent with Coeliac Australia
To welcome in the New Year, Michael and I decided to head into Civic with the baby to grab some brunch and have a tootle around the shops. We arrived in Civic around 10am and sat bored and hungry for 40 minutes while Milly slept peacefully in the car.
When she finally woke up, we were starving and thought we’d head to the newly refurbished Gus’s for coffee and a bite to eat. Little did we know that on New Year’s Day in Civic almost everything is closed. We mooched around on the search for a coffee shop but found very few options – there was Coffee Club or Thr1ve. We opted for Thr1ve because Coffee Club doesn’t do anything suitable for coeliacs to eat.
Thr1ve is on the ground floor in the Canberra Centre, opposite Coles. It’s basically a paleo fast food restaurant focusing on ‘the incomparable power of real food nutrition‘. They’re so committed that they’ve even developed an 8 week fitness regime, the Thr1ve Protocol. I find this stuff a bit cult-y myself but they do tasty gluten free food and I’d eaten at Thr1ve before quite happily.
Thr1ve is a nice looking spot. It’s a clean, vibrant area that’s laid out in an L- shape. One side is the food counter for ordering and the other has seating and tables. It opens up into the mall thoroughfare so it’s a loud and busy area. The colour scheme is white and bright green with some wooden detailing on the ceiling and walls. Dotted around there are some large plants and it’s a nice light environment.
The process to order is the same as most other fast food places. There’s a long counter with tills set up. Underneath the counter there are protein balls and slices laid out, like a cake shop, and above it there are screens showing the menu. One of the things I liked is that the screens had a note about allergies.
To make the place feel a bit less like a fast food joint, they have printed menus that you can look over while your queuing to order. I had a couple of issues with the menu though. Firstly, there are about six different dietary requirement pictures for nut free, diary free, vegetarian, post training suitable and keto friendly (I should confess that I don’t know what this means) but not one for gluten free, and I couldn’t find it written anywhere! This means that if you’re unfamiliar with Thr1ve or you just want some verification that the food’s gluten free, the menu won’t provide this.
My second issue is a bit more significant. At the bottom of the first page, they list items that included oats like bircher muesli. Underneath this there was a note for their ‘coeliac friends’ stating that oats are naturally gluten free but contain avenin which is similar to gluten, and that most coeliac’s can eat avenin safely.
While this is technically true, I find it pretty irresponsible. Coeliac Australia recommend a diet free from oats because there is no safe way to test if a coeliac will or will not react to them.. By addressing their note to coeliacs, I think Thr1ve demonstrates a lack of respect about the health of their customers which is quite underhanded considering their push for a healthy lifestyle. What they’re saying is don’t worry about the risk to your health, you’ll probably be fine. And while I know they’re not responsible for a person’s food choices, they style themselves as a healthy option, and vulnerable people might take the risk based on what the Thr1ve menu states.
In addition to this, it adds a concern around cross contamination. If the business endorses oats as safe for most coeliacs, how do I know the kitchen staff are being careful enough to meet my oat-free dietary requirements.
With cross contamination in mind, I went up to the counter to order while Michael
chased the baby around. For Michael, I ordered the Goodness Greens bowl with extra bacon. I then spoke to the staff member about my dietary requirements. I told him I was coeliac and asked what I could eat. The staff member said ‘almost everything on the menu’. I pointed out that oats were not considered gluten free by Coeliac Australia and asked if I needed to be concerned about cross contamination. He said that they were careful with the cross contamination and that no one had ordered anything with the oats yet that morning.
Feeling a bit better, I ordered the Ranch Breakfast bowl and asked for a large flat white for Michael and a regular decaf flat white for me. They were out of decaf so I had to get a caffeinated flat white. Unfortunately, somewhere in the food order, coffee order and decaf debacle, the staff got confused about what I wanted and he only put through one regular flat white, which I didn’t realise until the food and coffee was ready.
Minor coffee mistake aside, the staff member was really nice. He was friendly and helpful, and had a decent knowledge of coeliacs. He was also super apologetic about the coffee mix up and asked how the food was when he came out from behind the counter to clear tables. In addition to this, the poor guy was clearly doing the work of two people, the wait to order food and to receive the food was longer than usual as they were busy and he seemed to be the only person taking orders and making coffee when we were there.
We waited around 15 minutes for our food to be ready. For a fast food place, this was a pretty long wait. When it was ready, they called my name to collect it from the counter. As I said before, there was only one coffee, so I had to join the queue and order Michael’s coffee again adding to the time it all took. On the plus, the coffee was pretty good.
Once I’d ordered and collected Michael’s coffee, I sat down to eat. Michael’s Goodness Greens bowl was nice although he said there wasn’t enough to it. There was only one hard boiled egg in it and without the bacon, it would have been lacking in protein to help fill you up – particularly if you were into the paleo lifestyle. Also, there was meant to be dukkah in there but we couldn’t find it.
The Ranch Breakfast bowl was nice too. It came with a slice of primal toast, which had a light coating of the housemade BBQ sauce on it. The texture started off as nice and a bit chewy but the more you chewed it, the slimier it became. The BBQ sauce was delicately flavoured, it was sweet but not very BBQ-y and there wasn’t enough of it. This was a little disappointing because I like my BBQ sauce to pack a punch! The bacon was smoky and there was lots of it, and the mushroom was firm but well cooked. The scrambled egg was a favourite for Milly.
This all came on a layer of spinach which I’m pretty sure was included so that the eater felt as if they were being healthy, when in reality they were eating a fried breakfast! The cost for the two bowls and coffees came to $34.
Overall, the food and service (although slow on New Year’s Day) was good and I’d eat at Thr1ve again. Having said that, I’ll definitely be asking them about their cross contamination and be checking that oats aren’t sneaking into the meals I order.
Canberra Centre, Bunda St, Canberra ACT 2601