yum. Gluten Free had the absolute pleasure of dining at Elixiba on the Sunshine Coast, a 100% gluten free plant-based restaurant and bar! Walking in, we were blown away by the gorgeous fit-out… you truly feel like you are walking into a fairytale. The detail from the floor to ceiling is unbelievable and the food, truly a culinary delight. As a carnivore, I was convinced I would need meat to fill me up, but boy was I wrong. The food was sensational and oh so satisfying. I cannot wait to check out their just opened shop on the Gold Coast!
Head chef, Sarah Hutto, shared with YGF how Elixiba came to be and the passion behind the business!
Words by Sarah Hutto:
Elixiba was borne out of a vision by Ray Thorpe (of The Happy Herb Company fame) and Kittea Ukkola to create a herbal-infused, plant-based venue that could provide a space for fabulous nights out, without the punishing side effects usually felt from said fabulous nights out ;). Elixiba opened its doors in November 2015 on Ocean Street in Maroochydore, outside the revamped Big Top Markets. It has since become a hub for health and good vibes.
Our entire menu utilises rare and active botanicals, infusing them into our food and drinks to create marvellous flavours whilst giving them phenomenal and unique properties – some are relaxing and digestive, others energising and mood enhancing. Each dish or cocktail is created to showcase the unique flavours and properties or herbs.
As the head Not-Chef (no amount of culinary training could prepare you for working with an entirely vegan, gluten free, low allergy menu), I have a bit of a unique background. Growing up in Texas, I was surrounded by barbeque, steak, and… more steak. My mother was a “crunchy” mum before it was cool, though. Raw vegetables, tofu and rice milk were entwined into my very being. It wasn’t the most exciting way to eat, but man did I always feel good! Traveling made me realise just how good food could taste. It also opened my eyes to the need for ethically sourced foods. I developed a passion for food that excited the taste buds, while still fuelling the body and supporting ethical/environmental initiatives.
I am a coeliac, so I know just how hard it is to find any food out, much less, deliciously healthy food – much less, deliciously healthy food in the evening! Sunshine Coast boasts half a dozen gluten free cafes (way to go Sunny Coast!) but the gluten free night scene was bleak. We changed that though. My kitchen is totally gluten, dairy, egg, peanut, palm oil, meat and fish free. We wanted to provide a safe place for ANYONE to come and enjoy a good night out. It is possibly one of the lowest allergen kitchens you will find, with plenty of paleo options, FODMAP friendly dishes and soy/rice/corn free meals available as well. It is certainly one of the most ethical kitchens you will come across… we refuse to compromise our commitments to bettering the environment and people’s socio-economic positions for higher profit margins or easier access to products. That said, I don’t like to think about what we can’t use, but rather what we can! Whole foods are the way to go, and we are inundated with exciting products that we can incorporate into our menu. For instance, there are SO many glorious gluten free grains, and so many techniques to transform nuts, seeds and vegetables into fabulous grain substitutes. I have over 500 ingredients stocked in my kitchen. That’s why I laugh when people ask how I get enough variety in my gluten free, plant based diet!
We make pretty exciting dishes. Chips? We’ve got chips – sweet potato, potato and beetroot coated in tapioca, double fried in rice bran oil for a fabulous, clean crunch and dusted with smoked paprika, Himalayan sea salt, cracked black pepper, coconut sugar, and gotu kola. “Pulled pork” sliders made from slow cooked grilled jackfruit, in a smoky BBQ sauce (I am Texan after all!), with rainbow slaw, fermented cucumber pickles on paleo bread rolls. Raw enchiladas, “calamari” made from young coconut, tea smoked mushrooms. Pumpkin pie samosas 😉 Our entire menu is a delight for all the senses! We do cakes. Wedding cakes, birthday cakes, cake cakes. You’d be surprised how hard it is to find a good gluten free, vegan wedding cake maker.
And things have taken off. We didn’t know what our reception would be. Yeah, we developed a paleo, vegan burger that could trick anyone into thinking they were eating a normal Pulled Pork Roll… but could we get people curious enough to try it?
We got people curious, it would seem. Nothing makes me happier than seeing our restaurant full, walking out to tables and hearing the usual review, “We’re not vegans/we didn’t think it would fill us up! But wow that was delicious/filling!”
We recently did a Cheese and Wine Night – artisan cheeses, not that plasticky nonsense. I crafted up air-dried Camembert, rosemary feta, not-zerella fondue, and some herbal cheese balls. During a visit to the tables, I heard a young man in distress, pleading with his girlfriend to explain how the vegan cheese could taste so not-vegan, “WHAT? No milk? What is it made out of then?” Cashews, fermented sprout juice, and a whole lot of love. I just add that to my list of successes.
Last week, we opened up our second shop at the Robina Town Centre in “The Kitchens” project. We can’t keep up with the demand, with a full shop constantly. We will be opening up our third shop in Byron Bay late December.
You can find our Sunshine Coast shop on Ocean Street in Maroochydore… can’t miss it, looks like an enchanted tree house in a magical forest!
Facebook, Sunshine Coast: https://www.facebook.com/elixibasunshinecoast
Facebook, Gold Coast: https://www.facebook.com/elixibagoldcoast
Instagram, Sunshine Coast: https://www.instagram.com/elixiba_sunshinecoast/
Instagram, Gold Coast: https://www.instagram.com/elixiba_goldcoast/
*Photo credit, Chameleon Lemonade and Vitality Rolls: cullencollection.com