The Grain Store, Melbourne
Where: 517 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
When: Weekdays: 7am-4pm, Weekends: 8am-4pm, Dinner: Thurs-Sat: 5.30pm-10pm
Contact: (03) 9972 6993
CC and EFTPOS
House-made spirulina, pineapple, pear and mint juice” ($8)
As you might well be aware, Melbourne is going crazy for The Grain Store up the business-end of the CBD. Maybe it’s because the city’s Westside is a veritable Ghost-town for non-corporate dining. Or perhaps people are really excited to have locally-grown, organic produce in the heart of the city. Lunchosaurus visited on a Sunday to see what all the hype was about.
The first thing you notice about The Grain Store is the juxtaposition of its flashy office tower location. It’s worked hard to distinguish itself from the slick, city residence by creating a rustic, homely atmosphere. Beyond the corporate lobby entrance, it feels as if you have walked into a country larder; peer into the open kitchen and see dried chilli hanging from the walls. The cosy little touches seem to inspire, simple wholesome food.
Yet the menu is surprisingly far from simple, with plenty of chefy creations to excite the foodie or perhaps alienate the hung-over and tired. The weekend menu is restricted to Brunch with many dishes on the sweeter side. While there is the option to order regular old eggs and toast, this is not that sort of place.
House-made Fennel Sausage and Sweet Corn Blini with poached eggs, avocado and Persian feta, pear and cider relish ($18)
We started with a coffee ($3.50) and the “house-made spirulina, pineapple, pear and mint juice” ($8). The coffee was an excellent blend courtesy of St Ali and well crafted. Although if you like your coffee with bite, you’ll need to specify “strong”. The spirulina and juice was really very sweet, so much so that I didn’t finish the glass.
Off the menu we selected the House-made Fennel Sausage and Sweet Corn Blini with poached eggs, avocado and Persian feta, pear and cider relish ($18). And the Niccola Potato Gnocchi and New Season Asparagus with roasted squash, brown butter, milawa tome and juniper almonds ($21).
The Blini was anything but boring, with differing powerful flavours emerging from every layer. The soft fennel sausage was particularly enjoyable because it lacked the heavy, chewy feel of traditional sausages. However there were cold spots in the dish, likely from the feta. These unexpected cold pockets gave the impression that the meal wasn’t cooked through, which it surely was. Scattering the feta on top of the meal may have been a better way to serve.
The Gnocchi dish by comparison fell flat. In a barely-there white sauce that went gluggy and cold almost instantly on the plate, it wasn’t much fun to eat. The asparagus spears were undercooked and hard at the buds; much more crunchy than bouncy. The sweetness of the squash added a nice touch but overall the dish managed to be both bland and too rich. One cannot dispute the quality of the ingredients, particularly the cheese, but the final composition failed to impress. I left much of this dish on the plate which the waiter simply cleared without comment.
Niccola Potato Gnocchi and New Season Asparagus with roasted squash, brown butter, milawa tome and juniper almonds ($21)
Later at the registers, the Maître did ask if we had enjoyed our meals and I explained that the asparagus had been too hard. My comment was met with a patronising smile and a defence that the chef, “…likes it with plenty of bite.” Despite her promises of passing the feedback on, it was difficult to believe as it came at me through further condescending smirks. If you aren’t interested in the feedback then why ask?
While The Grain Store has plenty to offer the city’s Westside, particularly on weekends, many won’t bother making the trip across the CBD for a return visit. Along with the high price tier and long-wait times, patrons may also find the warm hospitality and casual atmosphere stop at the décor.