With Melbourne being the kind of place where new cafes pop up faster than you can say 'soy latte', it's hard to distinguish the good from the bad. But after opening earlier this year, The Grain Store, tucked in the bottom end of Flinders Lane, is setting itself apart.
The space has the ability to make you feel relaxed and calm in an instant. Wooden tones are coupled with design details like crates filled with apples and whole pumpkins and fresh produce, which may make you feel a little like a Southern Belle. Add taps of beer, down to earth waitstaff and a gorgeous private dining space and you've got yourself one little cafe with a big personality.
Local and sustainable produce is front-of-mind when experienced chef Ingo Meissner creates his European brunch fare — it's modern fine dining done with skill and diligence. The breakfast menu items like the sweet Grain Store toasted muesli parfait with mandarin, chia seed yoghurt and quince ($10), chilli and fennel sausage with winter vegetable mash, poached egg, Russian red kale, pear and cider relish ($17) and, if you're lucky, a special of sweet brioche French toast with rhubarb, apple and caramel are indulgent and distinctive.
Lunch sees larger dishes like Coq au Vin with mash potato, double smoked bacon and mushrooms ($27) and Nicola potato gnocchi and tomme cheese with mushroom taleggio cream, broccoli, brown butter and nigella seeds ($21). If you feel like a sweet treat, a lemon meringue pie ($11) will come delightfully deconstructed, while the cookies and milk sees four perfectly, baked to order chocolate chip cookies served along alongside glass of milk ($9). It's divine.
They are just as serious about their drinkables as they are about their eatables at The Grain Store. For the caffeine addicts there is the house blend coffee from St Ali ($3.50) or the single origin of the day ($4). Teas come from Larsen & Thomson, juices from Emma & Tom's and soft drinks from Daylesford and Hepburn Mineral Springs Co.
When coffee and tea just isn't cutting it, go for a wine or beer. Try a glass of Dominique Portet Brut Rose ($11 glass), or perhaps a bottle of Hennings Shiraz from Heathcote ($59 bottle). Beer drinkers can match a True South Pilsner ($6 pot) or a 3 Ravens golden alt bier ($8 bottle) to their lunch.
The Grain Store is a cafe that you want to spend time in, and the fact that they take bookings means you might just be able to. Arguably boasting the best menu on the business end of Flinders Lane, it's a little slice of comfort for any occasion.