Grain Store10/27/2013 10:54:00 PM
517 Flinders Lane
Melbourne VIC 3000
Ph: (03) 9972-6993
While I was away in Germany earlier this year, I started seeing quite a bit of online love for this new cafe, Grain Store. Loads of people in my Instagram feed were going gaga for it, and my cousin described their poached eggs as "life-changing" on Facebook. Since we came back, I've visited twice - once with friends for a birthday brunch, and once with my mum for her birthday. (Spoiler alert: she loved it!)
|The Grain Store|
Grain Store is tucked away down the quiet end of Flinders lane (near Spencer street), and is a little oasis of blonde wood and marble countertops in an otherwise nondescript part of town. Both times we visited, it also seemed to be Asian Hipster Central - smartphones, DSLRs and designer handbags at almost every table! (I include myself in that group, apart from the designer handbag, haha).
The first time we visited, they had this sweet five-dollar parking deal - you could park in the parking lot next door for ten dollars, and you'd get a five dollar discount off your meal. (Cheaper than a Myki!) Indeed, it was one of the reasons I chose to bring my mum here for her birthday just four weeks later - she has mobility issues and can't really do public transport. Sadly, Grain Store don't do that deal any more, which I only realised when we arrived and the parking lot was closed. After we found a park and settled in at our table, I asked the floor manager / waitress about it, and she told us in quite an abrupt manner that Wilson Parking ended the deal, and that we should have known because it was no longer advertised on Grain Store's website. It was a bit disappointing, (the manner in which she told us, rather than the end of the parking deal itself), but she kindly offered us a $5 discount when we settled the bill, which I thought was really nice.
On the positive side - you can actually book a table (a rarity in the cafe world!) and the food is fantastic. Let's take a look.
|Cafe Latte - $3.50|
|Cappuccino - $3.50|
Good coffees! As a general comment, I'm not quite sure how to critique coffee without sounding either insufficiently detailed or just a bit wanky - but when I say coffee is "good", I mean it's at a ready-to-drink temperature, has pretty latte art, and a rich coffee taste without being overly bitter. However, whilst the coffee was very good, Grain Store's focus is very much the food.
As you'll see in the next photos, the main brunchy dishes are all very prettily presented and a little more creative and cheffy than your standard cafe. They're all around $16 - $17, which I think is very well priced, considering that you could expect to pay similar prices at other cafes for those ubiquitous Melbourne cafe dishes like smashed avocado on toast, corn fritters, poached eggs and so on.
|Portobello mushroom & raclette potato rösti, poached egg, chestnut hollandaise - $17.00|
The portobello mushroom and raclette potato rösti came with two perfectly poached eggs, a rich chestnut hollandaise (and bonus points for correct umlaut-usage - it thus came as no surprise to me that Chef Ingo Meissner is German). Really delicious. I'm not sure what those white flakes were meant to be (someone at my table suggested they might be truffle?) but they didn't taste of much, and didn't really add anything to the dish.
|Bacon steak and spiced apple fritters, egg sunny side up, gruyere cheese fondue - $17.00|
Bacon steak! Steacon? I adored this dish. The "bacon steak" was a thick slice of smoked pork belly (I'd call it Kaiserfleisch at home), fried until deliciously crisp and slightly caramelised on the outside, with the spiced apple fritters providing welcome pops of sweetness. (They literally tasted like deep-fried apple sauce - amaze).
|Buttermilk French toast, rhubarb & apple, peppered caramel, cold drip coffee mascarpone - $16.00|
I only tried a little bit of the French toast, but really liked it. I find sometimes cafes can go OTT with French toast - piles of toast, masses of ice-cream, bananas, bacon, maple syrup, caramel, whatever - but this dish struck a good balance - it was rich and decadent without being overpowering.
|Ricotta & peanut butter pancakes, banana, house Nutella, salt candy - $16.00|
But speaking of decadent... pancakes with peanut butter, banana, Nutella and salt candy? Y'all know I'd already checked out the menu before our visit, and knew I'd be ordering it! It was all sorts of yum.
|Chocolate chip cookies and milk, baked to order - $7.00|
Baked-to-order chocolate chip cookies are a cute idea, but they didn't really work for me. I found them too sweet and not particularly memorable. (Just quietly, I think homemade are better - try David Lebovitz' chocolate chip cookies next time you feel like baking!)
The next three photos are from our second visit with my mum - Grain Store change their menu seasonally, and they seem to keep the basic structure of their menu (e.g. pancakes, bacon steak etc.) but change the sauces and flavourings. Speaking of which, the current iteration of pancakes on their menu is "apple, buckwheat and ricotta with orange nutella, apple purée, spiced mascarpone and pistachio streusel", which makes me think I need to get back soon!
|Orange cured salmon & fried poached egg - truffle crème fraiche, smoked eggplant & crostini - $17|
Isn't the cured-salmon dish just beautiful? Mum loves smoked salmon and eggs, so I was sure she'd like this. I was wrong - she loved it! She kept saying "oh wow, this is so nice!" and "we must bring your father here!" Yay!
|Bacon steak & smoky new season borlotti beans - Egg sunny side up, whipped goat’s feta, vincotto - $18|
One more time: bacon steak! This time it came with a tasty and filling portion of borlotti beans cooked in a smoky tomato sauce. You can't go wrong with bacon steak.
|Apple, rhubarb & ricotta pancakes - rhubarb curd, apple puree, oat and honey comb crumble - $16|
I went for pancakes again, and strangely enough, I thought that these apple, rhubarb and ricotta pancakes were even better than the peanut butter ones! They were overall a bit lighter and fresher, and I liked the tart fruity sauces.
I definitely think Grain Store is one of the higher quality cafes in Melbourne - creative, unique, delicious food, in a pleasant atmosphere, and at very reasonable prices. I'd highly recommend giving it a go!