Clean Treats Factory is a new spacious cafe and eatery serving up plant based food in Alexandria. A favourite with Instagrammers, the food is as pretty as the space itself. While the systems there are a little confusing, we check out what the food is like-does it taste as good as it looks?
It's 1pm on a sweltering hot Saturday - probably the worst time to get to Clean Treats Factory. The white washed beach house inspired space is full. There are two girls busy composing selfies on the white couch in front of inspiring black and white images. We join a queue behind a sign says "Please Wait to Be Seated".
And we wait, and wait and wait. 10 minutes pass. Nobody seems particularly bothered but I am losing patience because I'm getting hangry. Once the staff arrive they're friendly, tanned and glowing. The wait staff here aren't called waiters or waitresses - the menu tells us that they're called "cafe angels" but it feels strange to call them that. And while there are a lot of staff on the floor, they're mostly runners that can't take orders. The founder of Clean Treats Factory is Charlie de Haas, described on their website as, "Dreamer, believer, yoga-lover, fitness fanatic and self-love guru."
Air conditioning or the enormous dormant fan seems to have been forgotten ("We didn't know that this space would get this hot" says the staff member which prompts us to wonder if this has honestly been the hottest day they've ever had in two months). It feels like we are in summer clothing sitting under a heat lamp.
We flag down a cafe angel and order three of the coloured lattes. The matcha is the least favourite while the butterfly pea tastes like candy and the rose and beetroot is probably the one we don't mind the most out of the three. Garth's iced latte is also not quite what we expect. We ask for some more ice given the temperature and four ice cubes are furnished.
Okay, silly me, I should have known that the sweet potato fries would be baked although perhaps it would be good to say baked on the menu. "These look like I cooked them," says Nina about the slightly burnished fries. The coconut herb sauce is actually quite nice although the herbs are cut large and I end up eating a lot of these fries.
So that's the challenges out of the way. I wasn't expecting to like the food because we were pretty irritable by this stage with the crazy heat and the confusing service. But I was hungry so I mixed up the wellness bowl with a big wedge of soft, sweet pumpkin, spinach, carrots, radish, pumpkin seeds and green sauce and took a bite. It was pretty good. I took another bite and another and then I found myself really enjoying this. I almost forgot about the waiter that rolled his eyes at us when we asked for ice.
Nina kvetched about the price of three small pieces of toast but taste wise I have to admit I'm getting slowly won over. The coconut cheese, sort of like ricotta but creamier and is paired with chia seeds and syrup on sourdough bread.
I mainly ordered this because it was so hot inside although I have to admit that they're never what I want them to be (ok that would be fried chicken). Still everyone else enjoys the pitaya or dragonfruit bowl and eating smoothie with a spoon.
I perhaps should not have ordered so much sweet stuff but Nina and I both saw peanut butter pancakes and knew that we had to order them (and this spurs a discussion on if anyone hates peanut butter). It tastes like a healthy peanut butter and there could be more but the chocolate pancakes are light and spongey and served with banana, hazelnuts and a house made chocolate sauce.
With sweat pouring we each take an ice cube. I run it all over myself before popping it in my bra to cool down (by this stage, I'm beyond all caring about decorum). I did spy caramel slice on the menu and given that I had actually really enjoyed the dishes I want to order it. That's sold out as is all the other chocolate bars like bounty and the caramel kiss. Instead I order a peanut butter and jam slice. "I'm pretty sure that's just all peanut butter with some cranberries," says Nina and she's probably right and probably why I enjoy it so damn much. In fact I can't stop thinking about it damnit.
While I enjoyed the food, the systems here are quite baffling. To pay you join a long queue, you tell them your table number and they shuffle through a big pile of paper receipts to find your slip (or not find in our case) and you pay. There's no itemised receipt provided too. I am later told that you can also order at the counter and take a number but was told that system was possibly even more confusing.
Nina comments that it's a lot of sweets for us, but I tell her that in my (twisted) mind, given this healthy food, I don't think I've eaten at all! The look of bemused horror on her face before she realised I was joking was worth it.
So tell me Dear Raeder, do you love or hate peanut butter? And do you feel that if you've eaten at a healthy place that you have hardly eaten at all? How often do you eat plant based meals?
Clean Treats Factory
23-25 Doody St, Alexandria NSW 2015
Monday to Friday 7:30am–3:30pm
Phone: 0449 925 683