One of the big challenges people find when starting a Paleo journey is eating out. I think it takes a bit of research and a mindset shift to be able to make good choices. On the rare ocassions I haven’t brought my lunch to work, my go-to choices have been a large salad from Salad Plus (formerly Saladworks), roast chicken and salad from Coles or a sashimi salad from a sushi place in Wynyard station. Now I can add Thr1ve to the (top of the) list.
In the midst of the usual food court suspects in the MLC centre (Martin Place) there’s a “revolutionary” blackboard announcing high-protein, low-carb, no added sugar meals. Yes, this is not precisely the advice that you get from the government (which by the way works wonders to make the population fatter, sicker, and more dependant on the pharmaceutical/medical industry).
Thr1ve offers good food and supplements (also exercise programming but I’m not sure how it works) with a Paleo/Primal bias. According to their website, that means that most of their menu complies with the following characteristics:
- No added sugar.
- No processed carbohydrates.
- No grains.
- Nutrient dense vegetables and fruits options.
- High quality animal and vegetable protein options.
- Superfood and herbal garnish options.
Thr1ve is open Monday to Friday for breakfast and lunch. These are some of the things I found really appealing:
- The option of having raw almond milk (or A2 milk, for those who do dairy) as a base for smoothies.
- The option of customising your smoothie with “superfoods” (their protein/greens products, acai, bee pollen, lúcuma, or maca), nuts/nut butters (including coconut butter!), medium-chain triglycerides (MTCs), seeds, and spices.
- The signature coffees: one with coconut cream and cinnamon, the other with MCTs and grass-fed butter.
- The breakfast bowls with three free-range, dairy-free scrambled eggs as the foundation, instead of an early morning surge of insulin-spiking, gut-irritating carbohydrate (i.e. bread, cereal, porridge).
- The lunch bowls and salads featuring quality protein (grass-fed beef, free range eggs and bacon).
- Coconut oil mayonnaise. No explanation required.
- Paleo treats made basically with nuts, seeds, and dried fruit.
- Interesting stuff for sale: their protein and greens supplements, plus Paleo/Primal books (for example, Mark Sisson’s The Primal Blueprint and my favourite cookbook: Melissa Joulwan’s Well Fed).
Having said that, it’s good to point out that the menu is not 100% Paleo/Primal (as a business they must cater for conventional wisdom believers, I guess). You will find things like soy milk, brown rice, oats, legumes, toast and bread rolls. Do not eat those.
In my first visit I ordered the B.L.T. chop chop salad, crisp free range bacon, boiled egg, chopped iceberg lettuce, chunks of tomato & watercress, with a balsamic honey mustard dressing that is served separately. It was good and packed a very generous amount of chopped bacon that kept me well nourished for the rest of the day, which does not happen with other takeaway salads.
BLT chop chop salad ($9.50)
Note: this salad has been replaced (upgraded, I should say) by the K.B.A. (kale, bacon and avocado) salad with roast bacon, kale, avocado, hazelnuts, hazelnut oil, orange and lemon juice, salt and pepper, mixed greens base, served with an orange wedge and watercress garnish. I haven’t tried it yet, but it’s in my radar. Something else that has changed with the new menu is that now you can mix-and-match the dressings.
On my second visit I had breakfast after an early morning workout (yes, I used it as an excuse to have a smoothie). Although all the signature smoothies sound really tempting (for example, salted caramel – dates, banana sea salt, and cashew butter), I ordered a custom one with raw almond milk, mixed berries, banana, and coconut butter (no sweetener). I ordered it with PerformaProtein but apparently they forgot to add it. Bummer.
The breakfast bowls are customisable too: besides the three scrambled eggs (or three egg whites with one yolk) you can choose brown rice (just because you can doesn’t mean you should), wilted spinach or roast tomato. You can also add free-range bacon, smoked salmon, grilled Tasmanian salmon, spicy tomato salsa, smashed avocado or roast veggies, for a fee. Mine had three scrambled eggs, roast tomato, and smashed avocado.
Breakfast bowl ($8.50 + $2 for the avocado), custom smoothie ($6.90 + $1 for the coconut butter)
The smoothie was good but a bit watery compared to the ones I used to make at home back in the day. The eggs were slightly too set for my liking, but not bad. The peppery roast tomato was juicy and flavourful. I’m not very sure about the smashed avocado: it wasn’t fully mashed, nor completely chunky… I think it gives the wrong impression that they don’t care too much about presentation.
That was more than enough of a breakfast for me but I couldn’t resist the temptation of trying one of their signature coffees, specifically the mountain coffee: a long black with MCT oil and grass-fed butter. (A note on the butter: I panicked when I saw the dreaded pale yellow plastic container all artificial butter imitations come in and asked to see the ingredients. While it was not just cream and salt, it wasn’t that bad. Not Pepe Saya quality, but not crap.) I was expecting them to just stir the MCT oil and butter in the coffee (that’s what I do at home) but this is where the magic comes in: they blend a glug of oil and a super generous spoonful of butter with some coffee and add it to the rest of the pour. The result is frothy, creamy, unctuous, and delicious. At $4.90 it’s not precisely cheap, but to be fair it’s served in a large takeaway cup and can easily be considered a full breakfast. Even though I had trained that morning I was full for 6+ hours.
I will definitely post follow-ups as I work my way through the menu.
Shop 28, MLC Centre
19-29 Martin Place
Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9221 3885