314 Lyttleton Tce, Bendigo, VIC
03 5443 9492
The century-old brick building may be a Bendigo icon, but the wholefoods paradise inside is also a longstanding member of the community. For nearly 30 years, Bendigo Wholefoods has been a go-to for the best produce the Goldfields has to offer.
When Darren and Nicole Murphy took over Bendigo Wholefoods 10 years ago, they brought their passion for great food and hospitality with them. Darren’s training as a chef and experience in the wine industry made him eager to get back into the kitchen and work with chefs on the creative process of developing a menu. The duo introduced Wholefoods Kitchen as a natural extension to the retail store, and now run a cafe and kitchen garden nursery.
It’s this mix of old and new that makes Bendigo Wholefoods such a welcoming environment. The organic transition of the space from a ’70s health food shop to a thriving modern cafe and store has resulted in an eclectic, character-filled place that still has plenty of old-fashioned charm. “That’s the beauty of it,” Darren said, “some parts are a bit fancy, but then some parts are stuck together with chicken wire and glue.”
The food is the visual hero – abundant produce sits among quirky signage and plenty of greenery. The team strongly supports local producers, and on any given day you might run into one of the independent suppliers dropping off their fresh wares. You’ll be able to sample the region’s best in the Wholefoods Kitchen, where the ingredients for your meal are literally plucked from the store’s shelves. “We have a ‘locals love’ list,” Darren explained, “which highlights all the produce we get from farmers and producers. It’s fresh and delivered in person, and this seasonal celebration is our philosophy and focus.”
Head Chef, Karen Edwards, is the one who makes seasonal cooking sing. The nourishing salad bowls are a specialty – packed with texture and flavour they’ll fuel even the busiest of days. Try the smoky braised beef bowl with corn salad, avjar dip, stone-ground corn chips, manchego cheese, chipotle and pumpkin topped with sunflower seed crunch – it makes use of locally farmed beef and stone-ground organic corn chips from Melbourne.
If you’re after a meat-free meal, make a beeline for the coconut-crusted seitan and smoky tofu ball, paired with a raw salad, artichoke umami dip, kale-basil pesto dip and nut parmesan, and finished with an Australian-made miso glaze and toasted coconut flakes. If you’re feeling creative, choose your own mix or ask the staff to help you pick a perfect flavour combination.
Accompany your bowl of goodness with a refreshing smoothie, such as a Berry Burst with raspberries, blueberries, coconut yoghurt, apple juice and chia seeds. You’ll also find an abundance of super-healthy drink options: choose between wellness shots, kombucha on tap, and turmeric or matcha lattes. If you can’t go past a good coffee, try the brews made with beans from local roaster, Old Green Bean.
Exploring the history of Bendigo wouldn’t be complete without Bendigo Wholefoods. Although it’s changed over time, it still welcomes everyone from hippies to hipsters to enjoy fresh and nourishing local produce in an environment that feels like home.