The Grain Store

517 Flinders Lane, Melbourne 3000
Date visited: 15th September 2013

It's actually the second time we're been to The Grain Store.  Technically speaking.  We tried to have brunch here just a few weeks after it first opened, however it had been so packed at the time that we were told there weren't going to be any tables until about 1pm.  Neither of us could wait that long as we had places to go and things to do, so we declined and left.  Fast forward a few months later and here we were again.  This time, I learnt and made a reservation which probably wasn't necessary as they were a few tables free at the time.

Now, I just have to say the interior decor of The Grain Store is simply gorgeous.  It looks so autumny and rustic, from the quaint window seats to the island of sweet treats topped off with a big orange pumpkin.  Such a shame that I forgot to bring my camera and had to rely on iPhone photos.

One thing that I noted from both times I was here - the one person acting as cashier was also trying to help find people seats, so you can guess how that went.  Both times, there was a jam around the small entrance with people lining up trying to pay as well as people waiting to be seated all hovering around a confined space.

Since we had a reservation and it wasn't that busy this time around, we were brought to our seats relatively quickly.  Service was pretty standard, I suppose - staff did at times appear a bit harried and not quite as chirpy or amiable as some at other popular brunch spots.  Oh well.

Firstly, I had a Champion House Blend by St Ali in the form of a latte.  It was 50% Costa Rica, 50% Mexico.  The coffee was amazingly smooth and did deliver the dark chocolatey tones, however I didn't quite detect the candied orange with sweet spice.  

Champion House Blend latte

MerlinFan had Tom & Emma's Juice Radical Action.

Radical action - peach, mango, blackberry, green tea $4.50

It didn't take long for our food to arrive.  I had the Bacon Steak with Smoked Jalapeno Cheese Croquette.

Bacon Steak & Smoked Jalapeno Cheese Croquette $19

I admit I chose this solely because of the cheese croquette.  It was my favourite thing on the plate - the outside was crispy and the insides soft and warm, it was cheesy and had a great smokey flavour.  The bacon too was man-sized thick, salty with all its intense smokey goodness.  Sure beats regular rasher bacon to me.  The whipped goat's feta was nice but there wasn't much of it on the plate.  I'm not a fan of peas and the pea salsa was a bit too rough with the pea capsules.  

Mum had the Chill and Fennel Sausage with Vanilla Parsnip.

Chilli & Fennel Sausage, Vanilla Parsnip $17
The fennel sausage was flavoursome with a kick of chilli, went nicely with the orangey cumquat chutney.  The vanilla parsnip was smooth and sweet, and Mum liked the savoy cabbage.  The eggs were nicely poached, too.  It was a rather filling portion that Mum did enjoy.

MerlinFan, as always, went for the Buttermilk French Toast with Pink Lady Compote.

Buttermilk French Toast & Pink Lady Compote $17

I loved how this dish was presented.  Like a beautiful whirl of warm, autumn colours (yes I know it's Spring, but still).  The french toast itself was pretty standard in MerlinFan's french toast books.  I asked MerlinFan how her peppered caramel tasted, to which she answered, disturbing.  I tried it myself and disagreed - I actually enjoyed the thick, rich caramel with the strong peppery aftertaste.  It reminded me of black pepper sauce that I like to have over my steak (haha).  The eggnog curd did taste like eggnog, and I did like the soft, soil-like oreo crumble, however MerlinFan said she honestly didn't particularly like the combination of flavours that went on the plate.  And she said the pink grapefruit, naturally, gave things a rather unpleasant bitterness.  I think this was one of the only times where she didn't finish the accompaniments and Mum had the rest of her toast.  I guess with all these newfangled, fancy smanchy components, you would either love it or hate it.

I couldn't resist taking photos of the pretty tarts and baked goodies on display.

Overall, beautiful interior and a very cosy place to have brunch and hang out.  Perhaps it's the hype of the place, or the fact that it has been rated No. 1 in the Talk of the Town on Urbanspoon - I admit I couldn't help but feel just the slightest bit underwhelmed.

The Grain Store on Urbanspoon

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