Last week, after a weekend of food and drink that tasted good on the lips but was certainly not so good for the hips, I was craving a healthy Monday lunch. With nothing in the fridge to satisfy these cravings, I dragged a work friend along to Panache, haven for all that is gluten free, vegetarian, raw and all-round friendly to your insides. Located just off the terrace on Mill Street, it was a quick sunny stroll from the office to our sanctuary and we got there early to beat the lunchtime rush. Luckily so as well, as when we left there there was a healthy queue – maybe a lot of people had a similar idea to me after the weekend!
Sitting inside or out, Panache is bright, airy, and generally pleasing to the soul. The little nooks and crannies give the space a lot of character, and no matter the weather outside you should find a spot to rest that will suit your mood. I do find it slightly expensive, but the food is clearly made with a lot of TLC, and some really unusual ingredients that justify the price tag.
Panache have a rotating assortment of meals available in the cabinet, and at lunchtime you can normally find quiches, salads, sandwiches with a twist. This time around was no different, and after umm-ing and ahh-ing over the cabinets contents, we made up our minds and ordered our lunch as takeaway to could enjoy the sunshine on the beanbags and faux-grass outside.
One of the more interesting treats I had was the mushroom cups chock-a-block full of all sorts of goodies including pepitas, tomato, spinach and pesto with a wee bit of cheese. The mushrooms were perfectly cooked – easy to cut through but still possible to pick up and stuff into your mouth. Not too oily, they made the ideal base for the yummy fillings. I only got through one of them due to being slightly ambitious with my ordering choices, but the other one kept well for a sneaky afternoon snack.
On the topic of ordering too much food (a well explored topic on this blog), I had also ordered a quiche, which I didn’t realise also came with a side salad! The quiche was my favourite part of this lunchtime adventure, and came with a base that I suspect was made of almond meal and, like the mushroom cups, came with a plethora of delicious fillings including mushrooms, spinach, pepitas, feta and sundried tomatoes. And eggs naturally, being a quiche.
The base was really interesting, and something that I find representative of the approach towards food in this quirky cafe – using different ingredients to create commonly known dishes makes for a fun dining experience, and something that brings your back time after time to see what else they have come up with. Again, I only finished half of this and added the rest to my afternoon snack stockpile.
There is also a great range of healthy juices available, my favourite being the green hulk (kale, lettuce, spinach, celery, pear, green apple, lemon, ginger and mint). Not so long ago I would have balked at the thought of a green juice, but now I can’t get enough of them and am almost fanatical! How the tables have turned. This was a thoroughly enjoyable one, although I am not a fan of the cardboard straw revolution – I tend to sip on juices slowly and my straw always goes soggy before I can finish my drink! Sigh, the trials are tribulations of eating out are so tough.
After lounging on the grass a while, it was unfortunately time to head back to work and the face the reality of the afternoon. But I felt well equipped to do so, with a belly full of food and the thought of leftovers for afternoon snacks to sustain me through 3.30-itis. If you find yourself craving a healthy breakfast or lunch in the CBD, I suggest taking the stroll down the Terrace to check out Panache.