Cheeky by Nature, Northcote
Food: Smashed eggplant, falafel all the way, skewers platter, vanilla french toast, cheeky balls
Ticking a ton of our brunch boxes is recently opened Cheeky by Nature Cafe in Northcote. It’s whitewashed brick walls and high ceilings give this modern fitted out cafe a nice bright feel. There’s a couple of larger communal tables, a number of 2-4 seaters and a window bar. Even though we sat right by the door (better light, you see) the cafe felt spacious and we were barely aware of people coming and going.
Owner Maria is a vegan, and she combines this with a legacy of family recipes and genuine love of feeding people to develop the menu at Cheeky by Nature. She’s taking cooking back to its roots – using minimal ingredients to create great flavours, and making menu items such as the falafel and tahini from scratch in store. This simplistic, do-it-all-yourself attitude gives her huge flexibility to cater to a vast amount of dietary requirements, and we loved that things on the menu could be changed to accommodate these with very little issue!
Now despite the plant based influences to every dish, meat eaters don’t despair, there’s a hearty burger on the menu and a filling skewers platter, to name just a couple of dishes, so there’s really something for everyone. Maria and her friendly team helped us pick out a few dishes to try and we opted for the aforementioned platter, falafel, smashed eggplant and a vanilla french toast from the specials board.
The falafel were so good – smooth and soft on the inside, with a lovely flavour and a real crunch on the outside. With 6 falafel it’s a huge dish, and was definitely filling. The coriander-laden salad on the side was just omg yummy, and the toasted flatbread added a great extra dimension to the texture. One thing is for sure, you won’t leave Cheeky by Nature hungry.
M.B. obviously took the skewers platter all to himself. He loved how generous it was and the delicious chargrill on the meat. The flavours of both were delicious, but the lamb pipped the chicken tender to the post as being the more tasty. With chips, more of that delicious salad and a side of bread, it’s pub lunch sized and full of great flavours, and he left with a big smile on his face.
While he was devouring the meat, I grabbed the smashed eggplant, which was so creamy and had this gorgeous smokey flavour. I can still taste that smokiness now as I’m thinking back, and flavour-wise this was a real stand out dish. Presented in a similar fashion to the falafel there’s lots going on again here. It’s definitely a lighter choice than some of the other dishes, but we loved the option to add extras like a skewer or falafel to this if you wanted to make it a bit of a larger meal. We’d definitely recommend adding a falafel or two, just because they’re so yummy.
We finished up our brunch with the vanilla french toast with caramelised banana, mascarpone, strawberries and maple syrup. It was a nice small and simple dish. The toast itself was quite sweet so we thought this portion size was ideal. The caramelised banana were the perfect delicious accompaniment with some fresh strawberries for a little juicy freshness. It was a more stripped back sweet dessert than the larger pancakes which are on the permanent menu and we thought it was a great contrast.
Finally before leaving we got to try some of the cheeky balls. Made on site in a separate kitchen these raw balls are a fantastic healthy snack. I’m a huge fan of these anyway and make my own (far inferior to these ones) as a healthy way to combat that 3pm sugar craving – you know the one. We tried several flavours – honey and peanut being my favourite, while M.B. loved the salted caramel. They had that great texture where they feel substantial, with enough sweetness to feel a little bit naughty and so much variety in flavours that you’d never get bored – I hope Cheeky by Nature can make more of this side business as they were equally as great as the cafe itself and well deserving of a share of the spotlight.
Address: 555 High Street, Northcote
Tue 7am to 4pm
Wed 7am to 4pm
Thu 7am to 4pm
Fri 7am to 4pm
Sat 7am to 4pm
Sun 8am to 4pm
Parking: Most of the street parking nearby is 1P and you shouldn’t have an issue finding a spot. If you wanted somewhere to park for longer, perhaps try Northcote Shopping Plaza, which is less than 10 mins walk away.
Getting here on PT: Either jump on a Mernda train to Croxton station and it’s 5 minutes around the corner, or the 86 tram goes right past the door – alight at Darebin Road.
Disclaimer: We dined as guests of Cheeky by Nature, Northcote. Reviews are honest and based on our own personal experiences. We cannot guarantee things at a cafe won’t change including, but not limited to, menu items and opening hours, so please confirm any details with the venue before visiting.