Fast, delicious açaí that’s a little on the pricey side.
When you’re on the hunt for an eatery, it’s a good idea to think about what you’re looking for.
Are you starving and just craving a fast feed? Catching up with an old mate, and looking for a quiet-but-not-so-quiet-that-everyone-can-hear-you-talking atmosphere? Wanting a full-on fancy lunch to impress your date?
Asking yourself those questions is important, because it’s rare to find a café that can do it all.
So when you come across somewhere like Oakberry Acai Burleigh Heads that gets almost everything right, well … that’s the type of café you want to bookmark on Instagram. This little açaíbar might currently play second fiddle in the Burleigh food scene to more popular joints like Helen’s, but, if you ask me, it’s got a bright future ahead.
1/30 James St, Burleigh Heads QLD 4220
Occupying an alley corner along James Street, Oakberry has the kind of spot that attracts plenty of foot traffic – casual boutique store browsers, plus restaurant-hoppers perusing nearby venues like Ōi Izakaya and Hail Mary.
Inside, things are light, clean and simple. A wooden serving bar dominates half the store – behind it, giant silver machines crank out cups of pureed açaías young waitstaff rush to take orders and add toppings in an open-plan kitchen. Thanks to several large windows and a roller-door entrance, you even get a decent sense of space – even though there aren’t actually that many tables.
Don’t come here expecting true Burleigh ambience, though. Oakberry Acai Burleigh Heads isn’t a local gem – it’s just one eatery in a big, international chain that hails from Brazil (there are another three Oakberries on the Gold Coast alone). There’s a polished feel to the place that smacks of carefully curated marketing, and the very young staff give it a Juice Boost-esque vibe.
So here’s where Oakberry really starts to shine. The lady who served us was attentive and friendly; when we ordered at the counter, she repeated the order back to us, which is increasingly a rarity in cafés.
We only ordered açaí bowls, no coffee – I’ll explain why in a minute. But here’s the kicker: our açaí came out in literally two minutes, which is faster than you can get a coffee at most places. I suspect that’s due to those giant machines I mentioned earlier. I can’t be sure, but it looked like they cranked out açaí on demand, which meant the staff just had to add granola and toppings.
Either way, it was seriously impressive. On their website, Oakberry state that “Oakberry Açaí Bowl was created to satisfy an unmet demand in the food market: healthy fast-food. Our mission is to deliver a tasty, natural and nutritious experience, fast.”
Most brands don’t live up to their promises. Oakberry does – and I have to give them credit for that.
What’s On the Menu
Most eateries in Burleigh have dozens of menu items. That’s good for guests, but not so much for the café. More menu items mean more stock, which means more wastage and less profit.
Oakberry has just two choices: açaí bowls and smoothies. Smart business move – no wonder they’re a chain. They keep things interesting by offering unlimited açaí toppings, as well as a variety of fruit that can be blended into their açaí smoothies. Everything’s also certified organic, vegan, and gluten-free.
Something I realised, mid-order, is that they don’t actually sell coffee. Yeah, I know. I’m an idiot, and I should have checked the menu before walking in. My excuses: it was a hot afternoon, I was tired, and I just wanted açaí. So if you’re wondering why we’ve reviewed an eatery that doesn’t sell coffee, well … that’s why.
What I Ate
I ended up getting ‘the Oak’ (their large-sized açaí bowl) with banana, strawberries, passionfruit, and vegan granola for $17. I was craving a simple açaí dish without frills, and Oakberry didn’t disappoint.
The first thing I noticed was that Oakberry’s ‘bowls’ aren’t actually bowls – they come in big plastic cups. My suspicion: there are two reasons for this. One, cups are easier to hold, which is great for people who want to grab a fast açaí and then go for a walk or jump in the car. Two, the cups appear bigger than bowls thanks to their height – but actually contain less volume and less surface area for toppings. It’s the illusion of good value.
That’s a small nitpick, though. I’m sure plenty of people love the concept of açaí in a cup. The dish itself was very good – the granola was delicious, and the way the staff threaded veins of passionfruit and oats through the açaí (only possible with a cup) was something a bit different.
Did it blow my tastebuds away and leave me dreaming of more? No, but it sure hit the spot on a hot Gold Coast afternoon.
Oakberry Acai Burleigh Heads is part of a fast-food chain, but it’s one with great service and even better açaí.