Combi

Little cafe, big scene: Inside Combi.
Little cafe, big scene: Inside Combi. Photo: Michael Clayton-Jones

140 Ormond Road Elwood, Victoria 3184

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Opening hours Mon-Sat 6.30am-4pm; Sun 7am-4pm
Features Outdoor seating, Gluten-free options, Vegetarian friendly
Payments eftpos, Visa, Mastercard
Phone 03 9531 0084

I’m sitting at a communal table at Combi. People are talking probiotics on my left, swapping notes on coconut detox to my right and in front of me someone’s on the phone making an appointment for a therapeutic massage. I’m trying to fit in, drinking an almond milk latte, eating a "chia party" and mumbling affirmations. I haven’t felt this modern for ages.

Combi is a little cafe but a big scene: dog-walkers sip vanilla kombucha (a fermented tea drink) on the pavement, fitness bunnies perch inside with kale, spinach and spirulina smoothies. Indeed, if you want your consumables activated, fermented, sprouted, gluten-free, dairy-free or raw, Combi has you sorted.

I am, of course, interested in being healthy inasmuch as it relates to having the vitality to eat at restaurants but food has to taste good to hold my attention. Luckily that chia party, the first party in a jar I’ve been party to, was fun to boot. It’s a nut-milk soaked chia "parfait" (squishy and filling) layered with banana, berries, chocolate buckinis (crunchy buckwheat) and a pasty "yoghurt" of coconut and cashews. The almond milk coffee was rich, dark and less filling than a dairy latte.

Colourful: Raw pizza at Combi.
Colourful: Raw pizza at Combi. Photo: Michael Clayton-Jones

For lunch, the absence of gooey cheese made it hard to feel fond of the vegan toastie. But the cashew "cheese" alternative on the raw pizza had something of the mozzarellas about it and worked well over shredded vegetables, kale pesto and a dehydrated seed base. It was crisp and fresh and, best of all, left me room for the delicious, oozy raw caramel slice sweetened with maple syrup. I would come back for this alone.

Combi’s small dining room isn’t the cosiest place to hang out and the order-at-the-counter crush can undermine a person’s Zen outlook. It’s also easy to spend: the smoothies are $11 or $12, though I guess they are meal-sized.

Overall though, Combi has struck a cool combination of nutritional nosh and zooming vibes.

Party in a jar: Combi's layered chia parfait.
Party in a jar: Combi's layered chia parfait. Photo: Michael Clayton-Jones

Rating: Three and a half stars (out of five)

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http://wearecombi.com.au/