The Grain Store, CBD

The Grain Store is located on Flinders Lane near King St, about a 5 minute walk from Southern Cross Station. It's quite easy to miss as you're walking by, as there's only a small simple sign indicating the location. I decided to visit this place because I had seen it on Urbanspoon's top 10 places for Melbourne for a couple of weeks now, and a friend had been recently and recommended it too.

Upon entering, I was surprised at how big the cafe was. There was a very cosy, warm and homey feeling to the cafe, especially with the colours chosen for the decor and the simple design. The area immediately to your left when entering is made up of coffee machines and a bench of fresh made products (instead of a display cabinet), and the design reminds me of a sophisticated, warm and inviting kitchen. The bench with all the sandwiches, rolls and tarts is part of the lunch menu that begins at 11am, and anyone is able to go up to it and have a look at what they have for the day. It's a very healthy, nutrious looking range of lunch meals, all for decent prices. 

The breakfast menu runs until 12pm on weekdays and all day on weekends, and there's a good range to choose from. We decided to order mushroom and potato rosti  ($18), and a chilli and fennel sausage ($17), and also shared a honey and pistachio panna cotta for dessert ($12).

The Portobello Mushrooms and Raclette Potato Rosti was served with poached eggs and hazelnut hollandaise sauce. The mushrooms were very sweet and tender, with a great buttery taste and well seasoned. The potato rosti was a little too salty but had good flavour, and the eggs were cooked perfectly with the yolk oozing out. The use of hazelnut hollandaise as opposed to normal hollandaise sauce gave the poached eggs that extra nutty flavour besides the buttery, creamy taste, and tasted amazing. It would've been nice to have a little more of the sauce though, to go with the two eggs and the rosti. There were also a few hazelnuts added on the dish, which complimented it nicely and gave it more texture with its crunchiness. My friend also ordered a coffee, but it was a bit too strong for her liking.

The chilli and fennel sausage was served with a winter vegetable hash, a poached egg and russian red kale, with a pear and cider relish. As someone who can take spicy food, I found there wasn't much heat in the sausage, and the fennel taste and texture wasn't very obvious either. The sausage itself was a little on the salty side, though this was balanced out well with the sweetness from the vegetable hash. This hash consisted mainly of diced carrots and potatoes, and was cooked into a patty shape. The pear and cider relish also went well with the sausage, though it was quite sour if too big a portion was had with the sausage, because of the acidity from the cider vinegar. I have never had kale before this dish, and was surprised that I really enjoyed it. There's a nice crunchy texture to it that's slightly different to the normal crunch from leafy vegetables, in that it's more crisp and refreshing to eat. Kale is actually a variation of gai-lan, a popular vegetable in some Asian countries, and does have similar tastes to it.

For dessert, we went with a honey and pistachio panna cotta with golden kiwi, ruby grapefruit and lemon balm. Overall, this dish was average, and a little pricey given the portion. There was a good, subtle honey taste to the panna cotta, and the texture was very smooth and light. However, the panna cotta was a bit softer than usual- it wasn't very sturdy and started to collapse the more we ate it. The fruits were refreshing and went well with the panna cotta, though the pistachio flavour didn't come through at all, despite the fact it was scattered on the panna cotta and all over the dish. The lemon balm however, was extremely bitter, and for me was the let down of this dessert. There was a generous helping of it underneath the panna cotta itself that we weren't expecting to be there, and so upon our first bite, were hit with a sudden and extreme bitter taste that was quite unpleasant. My friend and I had assumed lemon balm was some lemon style element, but after some research, realised lemon balm is actually a herb. It is supposed to taste tart, but all we could taste was the sheer bitterness of it. I felt that it wasn't a necessary part of the dish, as the fruit already went nicely with the panna cotta, and the pistachios gave it a good texture.

Despite the letdown with the dessert, I would definitely recommend this cafe and will be visiting it again sometime in the future. The atmosphere and design of it is simple yet sophisticated, and the service was great, with friendly, polite staff. It does tend to get quite busy though, so it'll probably be best to book in advance, or go as early as possible so you don't have to wait too long for a table. 


Popular Posts