Fad diets. Anyone with half a brain knows that they usually aren’t quite as healthy as they claim; sometimes they can even be quite unhealthy, if not dangerous (the lemon detox diet comes to mind here).
The Paleo movement is one such fad which has developed a rather cult-like following over the last couple of years. Based on the premise that we should be eating as our ancestors did several thousand years ago, the paleo diet omits modern staple food groups including grains, dairy and legumes. While it is generally agreed that any diet which favours whole foods over processed foods is a good thing, there isn’t a whole lot of evidence to suggest that following a paleo diet results in any health improvement. If anything, some nutritionists argue that there is the potential for nutritional deficiency due to the exclusion of major food groups.
Now, why am I on about this, you ask?
While normally I wouldn’t provide any airtime for pseudo-scientific ‘movements’, it just so happens that a paleo-inspired cafe recently opened up near my workplace and curiosity got the better of me.
Patch’s menu features a range of breakfast and lunch dishes marked with either a (P) for ‘paleo’ or a (PI) for ‘paleo-inspired’. ‘Paleo-inspired’ appeared to just mean non-paleo (i.e. normal).
I ordered the wild mushrooms with truffle oil and poached egg. There was a choice of either regular sourdough or paleo toast; you can guess which one I chose. Incidentally, a glance around the full cafe suggested quite a few others were also averse to paleo toast.
The mushrooms were quite buttery – not a bad thing, as mushrooms and butter are an excellent match – I just found this a little confusing as I thought that dairy was off-limits in the paleo world. Upon further research I have since discovered that butter is the one exception to the no-dairy rule, as apparently there are a lot of health benefits to be had with butter’s high saturated fat content (hmm). It was a tasty dish nonetheless, albeit not that different to what you would find at a regular non-paleo cafe.
Bob had the baked eggs with tomato, chipotle and chorizo, which was paleo when taken with the paleo toast or paleo-inspired with the sourdough option. Surely chorizo can’t be considered paleo? I know it’s meat, but it’s also highly processed. Then again, by that measure ‘paleo bread’ hardly counts either – really it’s just as processed as wheat-based bread, regardless of the fact that it’s grain-free. Yes, I’m being nitpicky, but the paleo thing really just makes no sense… anyway. Back to the food.
Bob’s meal was decent, with the rich tomato sauce gaining a good amount of flavour from the chorizo. His main comment was that he would have preferred a slightly thicker sauce.
I’m a little concerned by the ability of fads to completely brainwash otherwise rational people. A number of online reviews of Patch rave on about healthy it is, despite the fact that the menu doesn’t appear to be significantly healthier than your typical brunch fare. Eggs benedict and roast pork belly aren’t exactly health foods; anyone who thinks such is surely deluded.
I must admit that I’m a little confused by their Patch’s concept. They claim to be paleo-inspired, yet half the menu is non-paleo or contains questionable paleo inclusions, such as bacon and sausage. It seems as though they’ve put a foot in the paleo door but aren’t quite ready to take a leap, probably for fear of missing out on a fair chunk of regular weekend breakfast business. Understandable, given their prime location at the foot of the new Studio Nine apartment development. What would a Melbourne cafe be if it didn’t serve milky coffee?
Okay, I’ll admit, Patch isn’t bad, and I will probably be back soon. But it would do well to give up the paleo thing and just serve regular food without the pretentiousness.Patch Studio Nine, 32 Bendigo St Richmond