As the saying goes, while the cat’s away the mice will play! With a short working week, courtesy of Easter and ANZAC Day, our usual complement of eight team members, dwindled to a lowly three. With our boss also away and left to our own devices, Stevo, AA and myself decided to motivate ourselves with a special breakfast meeting before embracing the long weekend.
Working in the Melbourne CBD, I tend to steer clear of the city on the weekends and look for new places to eat in the inner suburbs. Its been a while since I’ve been to The Grain Store and I’ve been looking for another opportunity to come back. Located between Spencer and King Streets in what could be described as the “interesting” end of Flinders Lane, when you step inside The Grain Store it feels like you are entering a whole new world. With a fitout that embodies a Hamptons style elegance that captures a mood that is light and spacious, casual yet stylish, the café feels like a haven and a place to escape from the frenetic pace of city outside. The neutral tones accentuated by muted lighting, pale timber finishes, completed with white marble topped benches and linen cushions provides a sophisticated and relaxing ambience.
The menu seems to have changed since I last visited the café with a focus on the produce in season. Once I had spotted the Buttermilk French Toast and Spiced Pear with passionfruit crème, apple puree, peppered caramel and walnut praline, I closed the menu. The boys didn’t spend too much time perusing the menu either and they both opted for the Ginger Beer Gammon Steak, Smoky Borlotti Beans with fried egg, nashi pear fritters, remoulade, salsa verde and apple vincotto. Our breakfast dishes arrived shortly thereafter.
My dish was well presented although on first glance there seemed to be lots of different shades of beige and brown on the plate and it was hard to know where to begin. With so many strong flavours on the plate, each component tasted best individually. The passionfruit crème was sweet and tart and paired well with the poached pear, lightly rolled in dukkah which was a touch of brilliance. The moist French toast, topped with the crumbled walnut praline, combined with the concentrated flavour of apple puree was delicious. Thick and with the same consistency as dulce de leche, The Grain Store has cleverly created another composition of caramel sauce through the addition of black pepper. The taste and texture blended well together although strong and bold on your palate. The dish was enjoyable and whilst substantial, there seemed to be just the right quantity of caramel, toast, fruit and crème on the plate without making it too overwhelming.
As for the breakfast dish that the boys chose, it was colourful and vibrant with an abundance of flavours in the combination of ingredients, which they generously shared with me. For AA, the best component on the plate was smoky and lightly spiced beans which were truly delicious and full of flavour. Stevo’s pick of the dish was the nashi pear fritters, which was an exotic blend of fruit that had been battered and deep fried. Extremely wicked but equally a joy to eat. From what I sampled, I enjoyed both the pear fritter and the beans, but I also liked the finely shredded celeriac remoulade which provided a light crunch and worked well with all the other sweet and savoury components on the plate. While I couldn’t immediately detect the ginger beer flavouring, the thick cuts of gammon steak were moist, succulent and almost melted in your mouth.
Having enjoyed our breakfast and the opportunity to start our last working day of the week in a special way, we trudged up the hill towards the other end of Flinders Lane, looking forward to walking off the abundance of food we had just consumed.