I recently went to free food, a café with a simple philosophy; feed all and harm none. All food served or available in the deli selection, is gluten and wheat free, dairy, sugar and preservative free, and ‘animal’ free- or vegan. One thing it isn’t, is fun free. Located just off of Corlett Drive, the idea was bought to life after owner Ariel Cohen went on his own food journey. After eating this way since 2001, Ariel started supplying health stores with quality, conscious products in 2007 and soon the need to start his own eatery became apparent. The menu changes fortnightly to stay seasonal and decor is pretty but of the simple, no fuss variety. Just a few tables and benches, wooden bunnies and books and an open plan kitchen so you can see the friendly faces making your delicious meal.
Ariel recommended that we start off with juices and salad before moving to the big stuff. I went for my usual Carrot and Ginger while my lunch date, Sahil, opted for a Pine and Strawberry Juice. It looked like a cocktail and Sahil said it ‘tasted like a summer holiday’. It did, I convinced him to let me try some.
Next we had a Salad Rapido!, butter lettuce used as a wrap with marinaded butter beans and roasted vegetables. Each little wrap came with a different salsa and dip combination. The depth of flavour these little morsels delivered was astounding and they were beautifully served.
For our mains we shared a Chickpea Burger, loaded with toppings like hummus, grilled brinjal, tahini and a fresh tomato and red onion relish. The sweet potato wedges on the side were also excellent. The bun is little different to a traditional soft burger bun, but that’s because it’s gluten AND grain free. Anyone who has eats a lot of vegetarian or vegan will know that chickpea burgers are the standard substitute and you tend to see them everywhere. They’re not always as yummy as you hope for but this was one was really, really good.
Because of who I am as a person, we had cake. If you read the menu board in one of the photos above, you may have seen ‘Fat Free Cake’. We skipped that, mostly because of how impressive the Dark Chocolate Cake looked on display. It didn’t disappoint, blurring the borders between brownie and fudge with an intense chocolate flavour. The texture isn’t your grandma’s light, fluffy sponge, this is dense and decadent with a slight granular texture. With no eggs, butter, sugar or wheat it’s just about guilt free and deeply satisfying.
Meals range between R42 and R82, with beverages starting at R30 and deserts being around the R40 price point. The portions will leave you happy, I left eating the same amount that would normally have me needing a nap but I still felt light. Full, but not stuffed. free food is open Monday through Saturday, closing earlier on Saturday- details and updates are on the website. free food also offers and catering service and has a long list of suppliers in Gauteng, with a few in KZN and the Western Cape. Find free food at Shop 5, corner Delta Street and Corlett Drive, Melrose.