As the temperature drops, we tend to choose lattes over coldpress and porridge over granola and fruit salad on menus around Brisbane. But Brisbanites have a long-term love affair with Bircher and luckily there are still plenty of places in town to find a tasty bowl. Birchermüesli was invented by Maximilian Oskar Bircher-Benner, a Swiss physician, as a healthy breakfast alternative for his patients which combined oats (soaked overnight in water), condensed milk, lemon juice, freshly grated apple and ground nuts. Today the term is used more liberally, generally involving soaking a grain for an extended period of time until edible without having to cook it and mixing it up with something creamy, something sweet, something crunchy and usually served with fruit. For me, it’s all about getting the perfect balance of texture, flavour, crunch, sweetness and freshness. Here’s a round up of our favourites on the Brisbane bircher scene!
Celebrity schlebrity. Chef Ben O’Donoghue is one of Australia’s best known celebrity chefs but a visit to his Annerley cafe Billykart Kitchen shows that it’s not just built on hype. The date, apple and quinoa bircher muesli has been a stalwart on the breakfast menu and we can see why! Oats and quinoa are soaked in apple juice and mixed with chunks of lightly poached apple, dates, sultanas and seeds and then served with creamy yoghurt plus shredded green apple plus the crunchiest granola of coconut, hazelnut and pecans roasted with honey to sweet golden perfection. A bite of this sweet concoction is like an apple-infused dance party in the mouth with ticks for creaminess, texture, crunch, fruitiness, sweetness and bonus points for superfood inclusion, this one definitely gets our vote!
Gramercy Espresso & Eats
The tiny hole-in-the-wall cafe in the Wintergarden pays homage to the classic with the rolled oats soaked in milk and yoghurt to form a thick consistency which is then mixed with chopped dates and macadamia nuts and served with yoghurt, perfectly julienned green apple, fresh blueberries and strawberries, pepitas and a good drizzle of local honey. It’s sweet without being cavity-inducing and the fresh fruit adds a refreshing lightness to the dish. What makes this version a classic for me is the macadamias (best nut ever) and use of julienned instead of grated apple, which intensifies the crunch factor. May Gramercy never change this recipe because it is perfection bircher-fied – if Goldilocks stumbled upon this Bircher, she would have gobbled it up. Oh and did I mention that you can get this anytime of the day? There is NOTHING wrong with having Bircher for lunch…right?
The Bircher at Chow House is the (coconut) cream of the crop. Oats, grated apple and thick coconut shreds are soaked in berry juice and milk to give it a vibrant berry hue and zingy flavour. Pepitas, sunflower seeds, slivered almonds and toasted coconut add crunch to each mouthful. Stewed rhubarb and a berry coulis intensify the fruit flavours and fresh berries lightly sweeten the muesli. The slightly tart house-made coconut yoghurt softens the fruitiness while adding a rich creaminess to the dish. This is one seriously epic Bircher and there’s no wonder it has somewhat of a cult following amongst the James St crew. Every bite is a total explosion in the mouth.
A newcomer to the Brisbane breakfast scene but with hints of familiarity as it’s the sister cafe to local Teneriffe favourite Sourced Grocer. The Gauge version of bircher features organic oats which were milled in-house (yes, they’re all about making it from scratch here) and then soaked with sultanas and nuts in orange juice and yoghurt for a thick creamy consistency. It’s served with yoghurt, seasonal fruits, lemon myrtle and fresh honeycomb to complement the quality of the oats that shine in flavour and texture. This dish may also win ‘Best Looking Bircher’ of the year with a consistently artistic presentation. If I hadn’t been hungry, I may have hesitated about ruining such beauty, however my stomach overruled my brain’s aesthetic desires and good thing it did, because this was definitely a case of it tastes as good as it looks. And if that doesn’t sell you, can I highlight that this is served with a chunk of honeycomb? HONEYCOMB. It’s one of the lighter versions of Bircher around which makes you feel good and wholesome.
This all-vegetarian cafe is popular with the Eagle St crowd, even the devoted carnivores. Associated with the brand Sanitarium (of the Weet-Bix variety), this health-focussed cafe serves up breakfast and lunch on weekdays. Although the menu changes seasonally, their Bircher muesli has remained a constant on their breakfast menu and is available for take-away as well as dine-in. Their version of the classic uses soaked oats, grated apple, dried cranberries, slivered almonds, cream, natural yoghurt with hints of vanilla, honey and cinnamon to make the most incredibly moreish sweet concoction around. A mixed berry coulis, fresh strawberries and super crunchy chia granola takes the delicious factor through the roof! You can opt to grab a tinier version to take-away (perfect for busy Riverside workers) and for the coeliacs out there, Kitchen now do a gluten-free version using Gluten-Free Weet-Bix…intriguing!
The House Bircher is a thick blend of rolled oats and chia seeds soaked in almond milk with coconut flakes, sultanas, dried cranberries, seeds and crushed almonds. The use of almond milk keeps it light but also creamier than if juice had been used, and the chia seeds add an interesting textural element. Topped with a dollop of sweetened yoghurt which contrasts with the tarter flavour pops of fresh raspberries, green apple slices and passionfruit, Honor have created a simple muesli which deviates from the traditional with more than hono(u)rable results.
A happy place for vegetarians, vegans, gluten and dairy intolerant folk, Botanica Real Food are known for their healthy and delicious take-away salads and sweet treats. What some may not also know is that from 6-9am on weekdays, they serve a delicious array of breakfast options including overnight oats, or Bircher. For just $10, you can select a mix of your choice and have it packed up in a biodegradable box and, let me tell you, this generous size can sustain me for the entire day (breakfast, brunch & brinner). With the menu changing regularly and featuring carrot cake, overnight oats and fig, almond and honey Bircher (figs!), there is reason to drop in regularly without feeling like you’re eating the same thing all the time! And don’t worry if you can’t make it in before 9 – Botanica kindly make up pre-packaged boxes that you can find in their fridge throughout the day.
The menu at Strauss changes seasonally however they regularly feature a Bircher that highlights the fruits of the season. The current offering is a pear and almond Bircher using a combination of rolled oats, barley, and rye mixed with flaked almonds, thickly julienned pear and topped with a scattering of cocoa nibs, a light drizzle of honey and locally grown My Berries raspberries. The result is a very milky Bircher which is only lightly sweetened by the fruit and honey. The whole grains give the muesli a chewier texture to plain oats and the almonds and pear strips add crunch and the cocoa nibs add a burst of chocolatey goodness. But what really stands out in this dish is the array of fresh, juicy raspberries which explode with flavour in each bite. De-freaking-licious.
Super hip cafe/bar Remy’s at Paddington does a mean Bircher for under a tenner. Apple and coconut flavours are infused into the creamy overnight oats with dried cranberries and sultanas added for pops of sweetness and chew factor. It’s a relatively wet muesli so no need for additional milk and is topped with yoghurt, roasted in-season fruit and sweet macadamia nut crumble. Overall a wholesome and plain good breakfast to kickstart your day!
Our lactose intolerant pals and vegans can rejoice! Reverend’s Fine Coffee on Brunswick St in the Valley have you sorted with their delicious vegan Bircher. Rolled oats are soaked in pineapple juice with shredded coconut for a distinctly tropical flavour, with chopped almonds and pepitas added for crunch. A generous scoop of CoYo amps up the coconut flavour, while raspberries and slices of tart green apple keep it fresh. A sprinkle of chia seeds finishes it off with a superfood element in this healthy, energy-packed Bircher.
Other noteworthy mentions go to…
The Bircher at Mondo uses gluten-free brown rice flakes instead of the traditional oats which gives this version a slightly nutty and chewy texture. Different but no less delicious. Served with lightly sweetened chia pudding, tart Barambah Organics natural yoghurt and the freshest seasonal local fruit, this beauty of a dish is a wholesome bowl of yum. I question whether it can really call itself ‘Bircher’ but it’s so good I had to include it anyway!
Similarly to Mondo, it’s debatable whether the Chia and Apple Bircher at Habitat can really be called ‘Bircher’. It has fresh julienne strips of tart green apple, linseed and cashews for crunch, cranberries for sweet chews pops and is topped with a gingernut crumble and labna. What is questionable is the use of chia seeds soaked in apple juice instead of the traditional rolled oats. It’s just like Bircher…but not quite. However once you accept the unfamiliar difference, you’ll realise it’s got all of the other components in spades to make up a fresh, lighter version which is equally delicious.
So, there you have it, our round up of the best Bircher is Brisbane. Did we miss any, or is there one that you think reigns supreme? Let us know in the comments below!