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Friday, 31 October 2014

Hardware Societe

Good cafes are few and far between in Melbourne's CBD, so it is unsurprising that The Hardware Societe (120 Hardware Street, Melbourne) has created such a loyal following. Its name is regularly mentioned in foodie circles and it is often recommended to visitors. Having never set foot in the joint, I tried it for the first time this September, when my Dad and a business associate of his were in town. Perhaps it was the effect of all the hype - or I've been spoilt for choice by the hordes of excellent cafes in Melbourne - but although I found The Hardware Societe good, it wasn't amazing.



Its location has obviously contributed to The Hardware Societe's success - halfway down a traffic-free laneway, bang in the middle of town, allowing for its regular queues to spill onto the street. I arrived at 9.45am on a Saturday to put our name on the list. The others arrived at 10am and we were seated by about 10.10am. Twenty-five minutes' wait... not too bad for such a revered venue. I quite liked the giant rooster out the front - not only did it give me something to look at while I was waiting (other than the other bleary-eyed, waiting patrons), but it clearly marked the entrance and likely whereabouts of the cafe's 'host'.



As it was a Saturday morning, the place was packed and buzzing. It is an odd layout: a few tables outside, and two indoor 'rooms' with food counters and staff stations stacked against the edges.



Despite the modern interior (which was revamped a year or two ago after fire damage from the massage parlour's hazardous clothes dryer next door), I found the design oddly unsatisfying.



Perhaps it was the marble table, or maybe the warm glow from those ever-popular exposed-filament lights wasn't doing its job, but it felt cold somehow.




I did, however, enjoy the wall of butterflies behind our table, and the cutlery was cool and quirky.



The venue also feels a bit cramped - it is only a 70-seater after all, and one in the CBD - which tends not to allow for large-area premises. Naturally, the cafe would want to maximise its turnover and provide for as many patrons as possible, particularly given its popularity. But it didn't feel nice.

Another result of The Hardware Societe's busyness on this particular day was the frantic service. Waitstaff were obviously under the pump, and therefore unsmiling and stressed. Tone of voice verged on rude - possibly out of frustration, but still unnecessary, in my opinion. However, food and drinks were delivered efficiently, in spite of a natural delay in preparation - again, due to the peak period.



I was pleased at the quality of my coffee (by Padre), so much so, that I ordered another. Each was served with a miniature doughnut ball thing. I'm not entirely sure what it was, but it was a nice gesture.



On its Facebook page, The Hardware Societe's food is described as having "an influence in French and Spanish cuisine" and apparently Head Chef, Jean Paul Dargan prefers to use seasonal produce wherever possible. Baked eggs with chorizo and pork belly dishes are among the popular items at this cafe. However, on our visit, we ordered a scrambled egg dish with smoked salmon, some kind of breakfast burger (can't remember what, sorry) served with coleslaw, and mushrooms served with goats cheese, pepitas and poached eggs.





I thought the food was pretty good. Having said that, you are just as likely to get an excellent quality brunch dish at one of the multitudes of cafes just out of the CBD (for instance, around my local areas: Fitzroy, Collingwood, Richmond).



The Hardware Societe was established in 2010 by Di Keser and her husband/business partner, Will. The pair then opened a second venue, with partner Shaun Williams, a New York-style cafe called Bowery to Williamsburg, now also renowned in its own right.

Clearly the owners have a knack for success in hospitality. However, after all its hype, I was slightly disappointed with my visit to The Hardware Societe. The food and coffee couldn't really be faulted, but dining out for brunch should be a pleasant, unrushed experience, with great service, in a warm, welcoming environment. Perhaps they have slipped in recent times, or I caught them on an off-day, but I feel these factors could be improved at The Hardware Societe.

The Hardware Societe is open for breakfast and lunch seven days a week, from 7.30am to 3pm.




The Hardware Société on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Steak Night and Pub Meal Specials

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I am a sucker for a good steak, and lately, what with moving house and all the extra expenses that incurs, I've been on the lookout for great pub specials such as steak nights. I've been keeping a list on my phone of some of the deals I've found at venues around my home and work (mostly in the CBD, Fitzroy/Collingwood, Richmond/Abbotsford, South Yarra/Prahran/Windsor, South Melbourne) - and there are lots, so please note I haven't tried them all. Several of my friends have asked me to send them a copy of the list - so I figure this way, I can share it with everybody who might be interested!

PLEASE NOTE: This is by no means a comprehensive list of all the pub specials in Melbourne (there are many websites for that already!), nor is it necessarily current. I will do my best to keep it up-to-date - if you notice something amiss, or have a venue/special to add, please let me know by leaving a comment below this post or email me at melbournepatron@gmail.com.




MONDAY

Steak
Gertrude Hotel, 148 Gertrude St, Fitzroy, $16
Imperial, 522 Chapel St, South Yarra, $15
Lion Hotel, Level 3, Melbourne Central, 211 La Trobe St, Melbourne, $15 steak sandwich
Ludlow Bar and Dining, 6 Riverside Quay, Southbank, $20 including drink
Saint and Rogue, 582 Lt Collins St, Melbourne, $24 scotch fillet including drink
Stone Hotel, 298-300 Brunswick St (cnr Johnston St), Fitzroy, $16 porterhouse
Temperance Hotel, 426 Chapel St, South Yarra, $15 including drink
Turf Bar, 131 Queen St, Melbourne, $15 porterhouse
Union Hotel, 90 Chapel St, Windsor, $14 rump steak
World Restaurant and Bar, Shop 4, Building 2, Riverside Quay, Southbank, $20 including drink

Parma
Bush Inn, 505 Malvern Rd (cnr Williams Rd), Toorak, $15
Common Man, 39 Dukes Walk, South Wharf, $17 including pot 
Eureka Hotel, 1 Church St, Richmond, $15, 5pm-9pm
Great Northern Hotel, 644 Rathdowne St, Carlton North, $14
Irish Times, 427 Lt Collins St, Melbourne, $18 including drink
Mt. Erica Hotel, 420 High St, Prahran, $15 including pot of Boags
Penny Black, 420 Sydney Rd, Brunswick, $10, 5pm-9pm
Wharf Hotel, WTC Wharf, 18-38 Siddeley St, Melbourne, $15 from 5pm

Burger
Birmingham Hotel, 333 Smith St (cnr Johnston St), Fitzroy, $10
Clyde Hotel, 385 Cardigan St, Carlton, $12
George Hotel, 139 Cecil St, South Melbourne, $12
Rainbow Hotel, 27 St David St, Fitzroy, $12 
Royal Melbourne Hotel, 629 Bourke St, Melbourne, $15 including drink
Union Club Hotel, 164 Gore St, Fitzroy $14 

Pizza
Cherry Tree Hotel, 53 Balmain St, Cremorne, $15 including pot
Park Hotel, 191 Nicholson Street, Abbotsford, $10

Other
Bridie O'Reilly's, 462 Chapel Street, South Yarra, $15 sliders and cider
College Lawn Hotel, 36 Greville St, Prahran, $13 locals night
Elephant and Wheelbarrow, 94-96 Bourke St, Melbourne, pork and beef sliders, 3 for $10, 5pm-9pm 
Fitzroy Pinnacle, 251-255 St Georges Rd, Fitzroy North, $15 meals
Kingston Hotel, 55 Highett St, Richmond, half price kids meals (to 13 years), from 5pm 
Mint Bar and Restaurant, cnr William and La Trobe Streets, Melbourne, $16 pie, lunch and dinner
Mt View Hotel, 70 Bridge Rd, Richmond, $12 fish 'n' chips 
P.J. O'Brien's Southbank, Southgate Precinct, Melbourne, $18 pie including drink
Queensberry Hotel, 593 Swanston St, Carlton, $13 meals
Railway Hotel, 280 Ferrars St, South Melbourne, $10 pasta, $5 desserts 
Railway, 29 Chapel St, Windsor, $20 Mates Rates - Family Feast including one side
Sherlock Holmes, Basement 415 Collins St, Melbourne, roast of the day until 9pm
Spread Eagle Hotel, 372 Bridge Rd, Richmond, $15 pie 
Swan Hotel, 425 Church St, Richmond, pub classics half price



TUESDAY

Steak
Bridge Hotel, 642 Bridge Rd, Richmond, $15
Carlton, 193 Bourke St, Melbourne, $14
College Lawn Hotel, 36 Greville St, Prahran, $14
European Bier Cafe, 120 Exhibition St, Melbourne, $14 porterhouse
Great Northern Hotel, 644 Rathdowne St, Carlton North, $14 rump 
Marquis of Lorne, 411 George St, Fitzroy $16 porterhouse
Prahran Hotel, 82 High St, Prahran, $15
Public House, 433-435 Church St, Richmond, $14 porterhouse 
Richmond Club Hotel, 100 Swan St, Richmond, $15
Saint and Rogue, 582 Lt Collins St, Melbourne, $24 scotch fillet including drink
Savoy Tavern, 677 Bourke St, Melbourne, $15
Temperance Hotel, 426 Chapel St, South Yarra, $15 including drink
Terminus Hotel, 605 Victoria St, Abbotsford, $15
The Gem, 289 Wellington St, Collingwood $16 bavette steak
Waterside Hotel, 508 Flinders St, Melbourne, $20 any grill item
Wharf Hotel, WTC Wharf, 18-38 Siddeley St, Melbourne, $20 including drink, from 5pm

Parma
Arcadia Hotel, 2 Toorak Rd, South Yarra, $12 (and poker)
Birmingham Hotel, 333 Smith St (cnr Johnston St), Fitzroy, $10 
Bridge Hotel, 642 Bridge Rd, Richmond, $15
Bridie O'Reilly's, 462 Chapel Street, South Yarra, $16 including pot, 6pm-9pm 
Clyde Hotel, 385 Cardigan St, Carlton, $13
George Hotel, 139 Cecil St, South Melbourne, $15 
Gertrude Hotel, 148 Gertrude St, Fitzroy, $14
Lion Hotel, Level 3, Melbourne Central, 211 La Trobe St, Melbourne, $15 including pot
Mint Bar and Restaurant, cnr William and La Trobe Streets, Melbourne, $16, lunch and dinner 
Park Hotel, 191 Nicholson Street, Abbotsford, $15
Prahran Hotel, 82 High St, Prahran, $15
Railway Hotel, 280 Ferrars St, South Melbourne, $14 
Richmond Club Hotel, 100 Swan St, Richmond, $15
Royal Melbourne Hotel, 629 Bourke St, Melbourne, $15 including drink
Terminus Hotel, 605 Victoria St, Abbotsford, $15
Union Club Hotel, 164 Gore St, Fitzroy, $16
Union Hotel, 90 Chapel St, Windsor, $14
Woolshed Pub, Shed 9, T18, 161 Harbour Esp, Docklands, $22 including pot

Burger
Mt. Erica Hotel, 420 High St, Prahran, $15 (and trivia)
Stone Hotel, 298-300 Brunswick St (cnr Johnston St), Fitzroy, $12 all day
Queensberry Hotel, 593 Swanston St, Carlton, $13
Vaucluse Hotel, 157 Swan St, Richmond, $13

Pizza
Baden Powell Hotel, 61-65 Victoria Parade, Collingwood, $10, 4pm-9pm
Beer DeLuxe, Federation Square, Melbourne, $10
Cherry Tree Hotel, 53 Balmain St, Cremorne, $15 including pot
Common Man, 39 Dukes Walk, South Wharf, $10
Turf Bar, 131 Queen St, Melbourne, $15 including pint

Other
Elephant and Wheelbarrow, 94-96 Bourke St, Melbourne, $18 bangers and mash including pot, 5pm-9pm 
Father's Office, 249 Lt Lonsdale St, Melbourne, $19 pub grub meals (steak, burger or fish) including drink, from 5pm
Fitzroy Pinnacle, 251-255 St Georges Rd, Fitzroy North, $15 meals
Imperial, 522 Chapel St, South Yarra, $15 mains 
Irish Times, 427 Lt Collins St, Melbourne, $18 beef and Guinness pie including drink
Ludlow Bar and Dining, 6 Riverside Quay, Southbank, $20 shanks including drink
P.J. O'Brien's Southbank, Southgate Precinct, Melbourne, $18 pie including drink
Railway, 29 Chapel St, Windsor, Locals Night 25% off
Waterside Hotel, 508 Flinders St, Melbourne, $20 any grill item
Wilde, 153 Gertrude St, Fitzroy, $10 wings (and bingo)
World Restaurant and Bar, Shop 4, Building 2, Riverside Quay, Southbank, $20 curry including drink




WEDNESDAY

Steak
Arcadia Hotel, 2 Toorak Rd, South Yarra, $14 porterhouse 400g or $17.50 eye fillet 300g
Birmingham Hotel, 333 Smith St (cnr Johnston St), Fitzroy, $12 porterhouse 200g 
Bridge Hotel, 642 Bridge Rd, Richmond, $15
Bush Inn, 505 Malvern Rd (cnr Williams Rd), Toorak, $15 porterhouse 250g
Clyde Hotel, 385 Cardigan St, Carlton, $15
Eureka Hotel, 1 Church St, Richmond, $15, 5pm-9pm
George Hotel, 139 Cecil St, South Melbourne, $12
Kingston Hotel, 55 Highett St, Richmond, $14
Lion Hotel, Level 3, Melbourne Central, 211 La Trobe St, Melbourne, $25 T-Bone including pot
Mint Bar and Restaurant, cnr William and La Trobe Streets, Melbourne, $18, lunch and dinner 
Mt. Erica Hotel, 420 High St, Prahran $15
P.J. O'Brien's Southbank, Southgate Precinct, Melbourne, $20 porter and porterhouse
Prahran Hotel, 82 High St, Prahran, $15
Provincial Hotel, 299 Brunswick St, Fitzroy, $14 porterhouse 300g 
Queensberry Hotel, 593 Swanston St, Carlton, $14-18 depending on cut 
Railway Hotel, 280 Ferrars St, South Melbourne, $15 porterhouse 350g
Rainbow Hotel, 27 St David St, Fitzroy, $14, 300g, 4.30pm-9.30pm 
Richmond Club Hotel, 100 Swan St, Richmond, $15
Spread Eagle Hotel, 372 Bridge Rd, Richmond, $15 porterhouse 300g
Union Hotel, 90 Chapel St, Windsor, $14 porterhouse
Vaucluse Hotel, 157 Swan St, Richmond, from $12 
Wilde, 153 Gertrude St, Fitzroy, $15 (and trivia) 
Woolshed Pub, Shed 9, T18, 161 Harbour Esp, Docklands, $49 (2 x scotch fillet 300g) including red wine

Parma
Baden Powell Hotel, 61-65 Victoria Parade, Collingwood, $15 including pot, 5pm-9pm;
Bridge Hotel, 642 Bridge Rd, Richmond, $15
European Bier Cafe, 120 Exhibition St, Melbourne, $13 
Fitzroy Beer Garden, 243 Gertrude St, Fitzroy, $10
Imperial, 522 Chapel St, South Yarra, $15
Mt View Hotel, 70 Bridge Rd, Richmond, $12 
Prahran Hotel, 82 High St, Prahran, $15
Richmond Club Hotel, 100 Swan St, Richmond, $15
Sherlock Holmes, Basement 415 Collins St, Melbourne, $20 including drink
Stone Hotel, 298-300 Brunswick St (cnr Johnston St), Fitzroy, $15 all day
Swan Hotel, 425 Church St, Richmond, $12
Temperance Hotel, 426 Chapel St, South Yarra, $15 including drink
Turf Bar, 131 Queen St, Melbourne, $15
Waterside Hotel, 508 Flinders St, Melbourne, $15

Burger
College Lawn Hotel, 36 Greville St, Prahran, $20 burger and Corona
Common Man, 39 Dukes Walk, South Wharf, $15 including beer
Penny Black, 420 Sydney Rd, Brunswick, $10

Pizza
Bridie O'Reilly's, 462 Chapel Street, South Yarra, $12 including drink
Cherry Tree Hotel, 53 Balmain St, Cremorne, $15 including pot
Park Hotel, 191 Nicholson Street, Abbotsford, $10
Royal Melbourne Hotel, 629 Bourke St, Melbourne, $15 pizza or pasta including drink
Wharf Hotel, WTC Wharf, 18-38 Siddeley St, Melbourne, $12 from 5pm

Other
Dick Whittington Tavern, 32 Chapel Street, St Kilda East, Blokes' Night, half-price mains for guys
Irish Times, 427 Lt Collins St, Melbourne, $18 bangers and mash including drink
Kingston Hotel, 55 Highett St, Richmond, $14 pie of the day 
Ludlow Bar and Dining, 6 Riverside Quay, Southbank, $20 pie including drink
Public House, 433-435 Church St, Richmond, $30 two-course dinner 
World Restaurant and Bar, Shop 4, Building 2, Riverside Quay, Southbank, $20 shanks including drink



THURSDAY

Steak
Arcadia Hotel, 2 Toorak Rd, South Yarra, $12 T-bone 450g
Baden Powell Hotel, 61-65 Victoria Parade, Collingwood, $14, 5pm-9pm
Bridie O'Reilly's, 462 Chapel Street, South Yarra, $18 including drink 6pm-9pm
Elephant and Wheelbarrow, 94-96 Bourke St, Melbourne, $20 porterhouse 300g including red wine 
Fitzroy Beer Garden, 243 Gertrude St, Fitzroy, $15 porterhouse including red wine 
Mt View Hotel, 70 Bridge Rd, Richmond, $15 porterhouse 300g
Royal Melbourne Hotel, 629 Bourke St, Melbourne, $20 including drink
Royston Hotel, 12 River St, Richmond, $17
Sherlock Holmes, Basement 415 Collins St, Melbourne, $20
Swan Hotel, 425 Church St, Richmond, $14 porterhouse 300g
Terminus Hotel, 605 Victoria St, Abbotsford, $15

Parma
Mt. Erica Hotel, 420 High St, Prahran, $10 Parma and locals night
Savoy Tavern, 677 Bourke St, Melbourne, $16
Queensberry Hotel, 593 Swanston St, Carlton, $15-16 
Terminus Hotel, 605 Victoria St, Abbotsford, $15
Vaucluse Hotel, 157 Swan St, Richmond, $13
Waterside Hotel, 508 Flinders St, Melbourne, $15

Burger
Beer DeLuxe, Federation Square, Melbourne, $15 including beer
Irish Times, 427 Lt Collins St, Melbourne, $18 including drink
Mint Bar and Restaurant, cnr William and La Trobe Streets, Melbourne, $16, lunch and dinner 
Park Hotel, 191 Nicholson Street, Abbotsford, $15
Prahran Hotel, 82 High St, Prahran, $15
Temperance Hotel, 426 Chapel St, South Yarra, $15 including drink
Turf Bar, 131 Queen St, Melbourne, $20 including pot

Pizza
Cherry Tree Hotel, 53 Balmain St, Cremorne, $15 including pot

Other
Clyde Hotel, 385 Cardigan St, Carlton, $13 pie
College Lawn Hotel, 36 Greville St, Prahran, $20 pie and pint
Father's Office, 249 Lt Lonsdale St, Melbourne, $19 Philly Special meals (cheeseburger, steak or ribs) including drink, or $20 bangers and mash including drink, from 5pm 
George Hotel, 139 Cecil St, South Melbourne, $15 fish and chips including a drink
Kingston Hotel, 55 Highett St, Richmond, $25 duck and pinot, from 6pm 
Lion Hotel, Level 3, Melbourne Central, 211 La Trobe St, Melbourne, $10 for two tacos
Mt. Erica Hotel, 420 High St, Prahran, $10 locals night
Union Hotel, 90 Chapel St, Windsor, $12 pasta
Woolshed Pub, Shed 9, T18, 161 Harbour Esp, Docklands, $49 pork ribs for 2 including bourbon
World Restaurant and Bar, Shop 4, Building 2, Riverside Quay, Southbank, $20 American BBQ board, including drink



FRIDAY

Steak
Eureka Hotel, 1 Church St, Richmond, $15, 5pm-9pm

Burger
Arcadia Hotel, 2 Toorak Rd, South Yarra, $14

Other
Clyde Hotel, 385 Cardigan St, Carlton, $10 fish and chips
P.J. O'Brien's Southbank, Southgate Precinct, Melbourne, $14 per dozen oysters, 5pm-7pm
Temperance Hotel, 426 Chapel St, South Yarra, $15 fish 'n' chips including drink



SATURDAY

Steak
Park Hotel, 191 Nicholson Street, Abbotsford, from $16
Eureka Hotel, 1 Church St, Richmond, $15 pizza, pie or pasta, including drink, all day



SUNDAY

Arcadia Hotel, 2 Toorak Rd, South Yarra, $15 burger and pot (and AFL live on screen)
Bridie O'Reilly's, 462 Chapel Street, South Yarra, $25 roast including drink, all day
Bush Inn, 505 Malvern Rd (cnr Williams Rd), Toorak, $15 roast 
Dick Whittington Tavern, 32 Chapel Street, St Kilda East, $14 pizza, $14 jugs 
Elephant and Wheelbarrow, 94-96 Bourke St, Melbourne, $20 roast, from 12pm 
Eureka Hotel, 1 Church St, Richmond, $20 two-course roast, all day
Ludlow Bar and Dining, 6 Riverside Quay, Southbank, $20 roast, including drink
P.J. O'Brien's Southbank, Southgate Precinct, Melbourne, $20 roast, including pint of Bulmers
Rainbow Hotel, 27 St David St, Fitzroy, $20 roast  
Temperance Hotel, 426 Chapel St, South Yarra, $20 roast including drink
Wilde, 153 Gertrude St, Fitzroy, $20 roast of the day, $10 Bloody Marys 





Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Tesselaar Tulip Festival

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away (OK - just in the Dandenong Ranges of Melbourne, but still), there were fields of beautiful tulips, in all different colours. The colours were so bright, you could see them from miles away. People flocked from far and wide to see the beautiful tulips, exclaim over them, and take lots of selfies to share on social media.






One day, a little Dutch girl decided she wanted to go and see the tulips. Her family were visiting from the kingdom of the north, so they all went together. They hired a motor carriage and travelled the long distance, arriving at the tulip fields along with hundreds of other people, who parked their carriages in long rows in a neighbouring field.







The day was grey and a little bit rainy, but the gay colours of the tulips still stood out brightly. You could take a ride around the fields, or pick your own tulips, but the little girl and her family were happy to wander between the rows of flowers, admiring them, taking photos and getting lots of clay mud stuck to their shoes.



After looking at the tulips for so long, the little girl and her family were tired, so they went to the top of the tulip fields and bought some Dutch food from market stalls. They shared traditional Dutch chips with mayonnaise and drank Dutch beer, all the while watching an older couple play Dutch music live on the stage. The mother and sister even had a dance together on the footpath.





But that was not all the dancing at the tulip fields that day. At one in the afternoon, eight couples of advancing years stood up in a clearing and demonstrated traditional Dutch dances, wearing traditional Dutch costume. The crowd clapped their hands and hoped they would not be rained on.





Afterwards, the sister tried on a very big pair of Dutch wooden clogs, and had her picture taken with some of the Dutch dancers outside the Dutch clog shop. Then the little Dutch girl, mother and sister pretended to wear Dutch clothes by sticking their heads through holes in a wall. They looked very silly and decided not to buy any clogs or Dutch clothes of their own.




The little Dutch girl and her family had a very nice time seeing the tulips. They felt more Dutch than ever as they drove their motor carriage home again, where they lived happily ever after.




The Tesselaar Tulip Festival has been held annually each Spring since 1954, with over half a million tulips on display at 367 Monbulk Road, Silvan. It ran from 10am to 5pm daily between 11 September and 7 October this year, incorporating the September school holidays. The Dutch event was held from 19 to 21 September, and there were also Turkish, Irish, Children's, Seniors' and Jazz/Wine events over the course of the Festival. The 2015 Festival will run from 10 September to 6 October. Tickets are available online



Thursday, 9 October 2014

Grub Food Van

To say 'thank you' for loaning him my travel pack, a friend shouted me brunch at Grub Food Van (87-89 Moor Street, Fitzroy) one day in July. It's one of those places you've heard of, but never think to go to until someone takes you. Knowing my penchant for blogging, my friend suggested this place specifically, and I'm glad he did, because it's definitely one of the more unique venues I've been to in a while.



Open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks, the Grub Food Van is essentially an outdoor site and greenhouse based around a retro silver caravan permanently ensconced at the front of the lot. Owners Mark Murphy and Tim Mann imported the 1965 Airstream caravan from the States and refurbished it for hospitality use.

The van


A caravan brings with it the notion of being immersed in your surroundings, and this is translated through to the menu via produce grown in the onsite greenhouse, with much of the rest sourced from local suppliers. I was pleased to see a list of Grub's suppliers on their website (complete with hyperlinks!). So many venues bring in certain products and magically expect their patrons to come in specially for them, without advertising or even identifying them first.

Funky outdoor settings


Entertained kids = happy kids = happy cafe patrons


Just a block from Brunswick Street, the first thing you see on the site is the van to your right. There are a bunch of tables outside, as well as quirky finishings like faded rugs, a rusty wheel of some kind, graffiti, corrugated water tanks and an array of greenery. There is even a kids' cubby house.

Ping-pong centrepiece



The quirkiness continues inside the greenhouse, the indoor area onsite known as the Grub Hole, which has been converted from an industrial building. There is astro turf, mismatched garden furniture, plants galore, colourful crocheted rugs, and the centrepiece is a large ping-pong table (there to be used, I assume). There is also an odd assortment of old toys -- some rather sinister looking. Overall, the effect is something like a green sanctuary inside your grandparents' shed. It's comfortable, but also interesting.

Nanna wuz here

Evil toys and suspended teddy bears


When we were there, my coffee (from Five Senses) was beautifully made, and water was served in an appealingly ugly plastic teapot (hey, why not?!).


Ugly water pot. And my travel pack.


My friend ordered the Reuben, which I'm not sure he was all that impressed by, but I thought it looked good. I had smoked salmon on pumpernickel, served with egg, creme freche and some kind of fruit preserve. It was a delicious blend of flavours, and just filling enough. The menu here is seasonal and constantly evolving.

Reuben sandwich

Smoked salmon goodness


In the drinking hours, boutique beers are on offer, as well as cocktails by Kim Scott (Spice Temple) and wines selected by Anne-Marie Bunting (Lake House). Food is by Georgina Adamson and comprises deli-style food with artisan breads and charcuterie from Piper Street. For example, you could pick yourself up a slice of quiche, a sandwich, pastry, ploughman's platter or cheese board.




Obviously suited to summer gatherings (although there are heaters during winter), I think Grub Food Van would be perfect for a late-afternoon coffee or beer in the sun along with some chit-chat. Pets are welcome, and as well as entertainment in the form of ping-pong, there is also free wifi. Just make sure you check the hours online before you head over, as these are variable, like the menu.



I'll be checking out Grub Food Van for dinner or drinks this summer as a point of comparison to their brunch.



Grub Food Van on Urbanspoon