Saturday, 29 June 2013

The Grain Store - Gentrifying The King Street Precinct

There has been a fair amount of positive press about The Grain Store which recently opened on Flinders Lane. Enough so that my curiousity was piqued so much that I collected one other and made it a lunchtime meeting venue the other day with the hope that a cheeky bottle of wine and some fresh food would help kill the flu-like symptoms that I was trying to fight off.

The Grain Store, Flinders Lane, Melbourne
The Grain Store Dining Room
The "new" appearance shines through literally in this clean dining room with white walls complementing the wooden tables, chairs and exposed white ceiling. The name of the restaurant which pays homage to the bygone era of Melbourne when The Grain Store Tavern stood steadfast around the corner satisfies a much needed injection of quality into the business-end of Flinders Lane in an area that is populated with "gentleman's clubs" and dodgy pubs on King Street.

We were enthusiastically greeted at the door and queried if we were interested in drinks (I am assuming coffee) or a long and relaxing lunch. Of course I was interested in the latter so we were taken to a table and provided menus that were concise but enticed you as everything looked to be quite intriguing on paper. Whilst I browsed the menu and enjoyed some light conversation, I had the chance to try a True South Pilsener ($8/schooner) which is produced by a microbrewery in Victoria with the same name. A very drinkable golden beer which I consumed quickly and then ordered a bottle of Ten Minutes by Tractor 10X Pinot Noir ($64) which seemed appropriate. Oddly Ten Minutes by Tractor on the Mornington Peninsula was in the back of my mind strangely since I had just posted a review of my degustation experience at that restaurant earlier that day on this blog. The Iron Bark Pumpkin Soup ($11) was my first choice as this winter warmer, combined with the wine, I was hoping to affront not only my senses but fight off my flu-like symptoms. The wine softened my palate and allowed me to taste the sage oil and beautiful Chantilly cream intermixed with the pumpkin which went down my gob without any hesitation. Whilst devouring this first course, I spotted service moving whole pumpkins back to the kitchen ironically which was a testament to the freshness of this very reasonably priced dish.

The Grain Store, Flinders Lane, Melbourne
The Grain Store, Dining Room
The Romsey Range "Buttery" Beef Cheeks ($23) was delivered in time for me to match with my fair share of the wine. For some strange reason I was ravenous on this cold day and despite the excessive and lively conversation being had at the table, there was not much delay in cleaning out the bowl of soup remnants with the toasted bread that was provided so when the tender cheeks from the Romsey (Macedon) Range arrived, I quickly ascertained that they were so tender that I could cut them with the back of my knife. The Russian red kale and vanilla parsnip puree added some colour and additional excitement to this dish which would have easily held its own, especially when matched with this particular pinot noir. My dining companion had a simple beetroot salad ($16) and enjoyed it and also ordered a side of Brussel sprouts ($7) with pancetta and confit garlic which I was invited to share. Once again, the produce was fresh, crunchy and full of flavour which complimented a healthy serve of beef cheeks.

Service was very friendly and happy to talk about the restaurant, the area and the entirety of this new and popular venture. The enthusiasm was infectious which led to an interesting conversation about food and wine. Besides being a seemingly popular destination for quick business meetings over a coffee, this venue is best enjoyed when you can sample not only the fresh food but the overall service experience. Sadly the restaurant closes at 4:00 PM but hopefully the popularity combined with the fact that the business end of Flinders Lane needs a quality eatery after hours, they will extend trading into the evening soon. At least I can hope.

The Grain Store, Flinders Lane, Melbourne
The Grain Store
517 Flinders Lane, Melbourne VIC 3000
(03) 9972 6993
My Rating: 15/20
Service: 3.5/5
Ambiance: 3.5/5
Quality: 4/5
Value For Money: 4/5

Twitter: @epicurean3006
e-mail: epicureanofsouthbank (at) gmail (dot) com

When I made this post originally, 90% of the reviewers on Urbanspoon also like The Grain Store.

The Grain Store on Urbanspoon

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