The Strand in Dee Why is arguably the best beachfront strip in all of Sydney’s Northern Beaches. In most places, the beach is cut off by a horrible main road. But Dee Why is a bit different. There still is a road between you and the beach, but it’s quiet, and the waves and the sand are still within your grasp.
It is here that you’ll find Girdlers. In prime position, with a glorious outlook towards the ocean, it’s such a great location. Owned and run by Ryan Girdler and his wife Katja, Girdlers is a local (and a personal) favourite.
Ryan is a former professional rugby league player and a Dee Why local, and started off not knowing anything about the business of owning a café. After retiring from his football career in 2004, Ryan tells me he was wandering aimlessly along the Dee Why promenade wondering what to do. He saw a little spot on the corner and went in and presented himself, wanting to know everything there was to know about running a café. So he threw himself into it and never looked back.
Fast-forward to 2016 and look where they are now – together with their business partner and “crazy Colombian” Sebastian, they’ve turned an old, run-down juice bar into the busiest, trendiest hang out in Dee Why.
“You never stand out by blending in”
The food philosophy at Girdlers is simple: comfort food with a healthy twist. Simple, honest goodness.
Back in 2006 Girdlers started off just making crêpes, and have since expanded their menu to include a huge range of delicious food. “We wanted to give people the option, rather than limiting what they could choose from,” says Ryan. It’s true – the menu is extensive, and it all looks and sounds incredible. They’re still doing the crêpes, but now they’re a little more refined, and they offer a selection of sweet as well as savoury. They have a huge variety of breakfast foods, including classics like Bacon & Eggs Gone Healthy ($11), a dish called Holy Avo ($17) which is my brother’s favourite – every time he comes to visit I could bet money we’ll go to Girdlers and he’ll order that – and the most incredible Honest Granola bowl ($13) I’ve ever eaten. They also have Health Bowls, an afternoon menu with more substantial options, and a kids menu.
On the other side of things, their drinks menu has just as many options! From fresh and cold pressed juices to Super Smoothies (as well as the classics) there’s so much to choose from. AND they have Kombucha on tap! Whattttt?! “It’s actually really popular,” says Ryan, although he admits he’s not a fan. “We have three flavours on offer, and we go through a surprising amount every week.” It comes from BC Kombucha, and it’s brewed right here on the Northern Beaches.
Ryan, Katja and Sebastian are all lovers of coffee, so naturally Girdlers also boasts a fine selection of pure, unadulterated coffee cherries, handpicked and roasted in small batches. They created two blends: “The All Original” and “The All Good”. Fair Trade and 100% organic, their signature coffee can now be found in cafés all over the place. It’s also sold wholesale for businesses, and through a partnership with select Coles stores you can buy it to have at home.
Sebastian explains that because the food industry is such a progressive one, their menu has to reflect that. They have to keep on improving. A new menu is released quarterly at Girdlers, including only the simplest, finest, most wholesome ingredients. Their food is fresh and unprocessed and completely sugar-free, using only natural sweeteners. There’s nothing frozen or mass-produced here – 99% of the food is made on-site – and the menu is almost entirely gluten free, with plenty of vegan options.
So what’s Ryan’s breakfast of choice? Sweet Potato hash ($18), with smoked salmon, organic poached eggs and homemade tomato relish. To wash it down? A Cacao & Co. Super Smoothie ($9), with organic raw cacao, coconut milk, coconut oil, CocoWhip, Banana, Vanilla and Hinterland Honey. So this is what I was served. YUM! The smoothie was sweet and delicious without being sickening, and the crunch of the raw cacao within the silky smoothie was pretty spectacular. The sweet potato hash was salty and crispy, with perfectly runny poached eggs on top. The tomato relish was tangy, and paired with a fresh lemon and that smokey salmon, it was the perfect combination.
I was also given the Down Under crêpe ($15) – organic eggs, mozzarella, free range smoked ham and avocado, all enveloped in a crispy, buttery, organic buckwheat crêpe. The combination of flavours and ingredients was flawless, and the buckwheat adds a delectable chewy texture to the pancake. You can absolutely taste the goodness in the food.
So what’s the next exciting adventure for Ryan, Katja and Sebatsian? Girdlers goes nights! They have just launched their night menu, which will have an exciting selection of exotic cocktails, ciders, craft beers, organic wines, and healthy, fun shared platters – simple, honest goodness in the dark! Pop in Thursday – Saturday from 6pm. It’s an awesome idea, and I’ll definitely be heading in soon to see how it’s going for them.
I’m a big fan of Girdlers’ food philosophy, and I’m lucky enough to have this amazing little hub right down the road from me. But I’m also really happy to be sharing it with you. There’s so much more I could say about how great this spot is. But I think you should check it out and decide for yourselves.
7-8 The Strand, Dee Why NSW
Phone: (02) 9972 1336
Thurs-Sat 6.30am-4.30pm & 6pm-10pm
I Ate My Way Through dined as guests of Girdler’s