Enter the premises of Brunswick Food Store and you really will think you’ve missed the door to the cafe – towering grocery-laden shelves line each side of the room, packed with enough fare to satisfy both nonnas and health nuts; endless variants of Italian produce, quinoa, relish, milk, spices, cook books and finally, a deli fridge filled to the brim with locally produced salami and cheese.
All day breakfast is on the cards here, to be dined on from large cafeteria style tables.
Towards the rear, a wall is sketched with illustrations of ancient machinery, paying homage to the building’s former life as Toby’s Estate coffee roasting factory.
A small selection of pre-made drinks are available in addition to the usual barista concoctions.
The veal schnitzel holds a slight pepperiness of seasoning which has been crumbed and fried to a resounding crunch, leading to a juicy, supple interior.
The accompanying potato salad has all the trimmings of chives, garlic, lemon and rocket, with just the right amount of mayonnaise so as not to bestow upon the diner an extra 3 kilos immediately after consumption.
The southern fried Maryland chicken has a modestly battered exterior with a hint of chilli which gives it a distinct Mexican vibe.
The addition of native South American vegetables – roasted corn, red and green peppers, spanish onion – adds credence to the genre of the dish.
The pulled pork brioche comes off as slightly bland after the pronounced flavours of the veal and chicken.
The inclusion of two of my most despised childhood vegetables – cabbage and pickled cucumber – do little to add to its allure.
Brioche is considered a pastry rather than bread, as it consists of refined yeast dough with egg and butter. The method of preparation is labour-intensive, requiring overnight resting in a cool room and being raised and let down at least three times.
The brioche at Brunswick Food Store comes off as more of a hamburger bun, lacking the required cake-like consistency.
Peeping inside the bun however reveals air holes, which do indicate the professionalism of the baking.
The steak sandwich is a big old slab which has been stacked with the works – a Porterhouse steak, lettuce, tomato, caramelised onion, bacon, egg and cheese.
Usually I shy away from steak sandwiches due to the tradition of using lower quality cuts of meat (usually Hanger or Strip steak) which results in flesh that is often all too tough and chewy.
This Porterhouse is quite good – very light use of salt and pepper showcases the beauty of the meat and keeps it just tender enough, even though it has been trimmed of all fat.
The carb quotient has been halved thanks the absence of a top piece of bread, what I like to call a “convertible sandwich”.
The chips have been doused with the ever addictive seasoning of herb and chicken salt and roughly cut into a thick shape which belies a rustic charm.
The hamburger has the usual perfect trimmings – cheese, spanish onion, pickled cucumber, bacon, tomato and lettuce – with a unique inclusion of spicy tomato relish which adds a zing to the flavour.
Call me greedy, but I wouldn’t have minded inviting avocado to the party.
The seasoning of the meat is perfectly measured so as to abolish the need for salt and pepper.
The dessert selection is limited and consists of items which appear to have been made on premises: baklava, turkish delight, banana bread, muffins – none of which I have room for, having consumed my own weight’s worth in farm animals.
Service 9, Food 8.5.
Brunswick Food Store is located at 29 Weston Street, Brunswick.