Grace review: Breakfast Out

Published 16 November 2012
View original review at Breakfast Out


Coffee with a side of kindness

Carving out a space in cafe-heavy Fitzroy is a hard task these days, but newcomer Grace has managed the unthinkable in finding a residential pocket without a topnotch local. Housed in a tiny former brothel turned BDSM film studio on Rose Street, a couple of blocks off Brunswick Street, Grace’s winning combination of friendly service, superior coffee, cosy interior and wholesome food has already earned it a slew of diehard regulars.

All signs of the building’s seedy past have been erased with a carefully considered exterior and interior fitout that is rife with personal touches. The sunny north-facing porch has been turned into a slim, bar-style outdoor area with cute wooden-topped milk crates as seats (made in-house) and an arresting Da Vinci-esque mural by Melbourne street artist Adnate watching over proceedings. Inside, the simple space has been made warm and inviting with vintage furniture, mismatched op shop crockery and cutlery, and little bookish touches like menu covers made from old books (mine was Danielle Steel – score!) and origami flowers fashioned out of their pages.

Grace describes its food as ‘kind’ and by that they mean simple, healthy and unpretentious, using plenty of local and sustainable suppliers – such as Dench baked goods, Espresso Syndicate coffee and Jonesy’s milk. The very reasonably priced, home-style offerings include a sweetly presented yoghurt jar with home-made coulis, toasted muesli, goji berries and cacao nibs ($8), vegemite and cheese or chilli jam and cheese toastie melts ($6) and a nice Middle Eastern version of Melbourne’s ubiquitous baked eggs ($15).

A definite standout dish is the quark-filled crepes ($13), served with either cream and berry coulis or cream and lemon curd. Crispy on the outside and cooked to a perfect golden-brown, they come pre-slathered in cream cheese-like quarky goodness. The accompanying sauces are presented in little 1970s earthenware pots and there is more than enough to go around. Another dish hitting the right sauce-to-starch ration is the Brat ($11), which strikes the perfect balance of crispy-crunchy bacon, creamy avocado and peppery rocket with lashings of chilli jam and mayo.

In what seems to be an emerging trend, bagels also make an appearance. All questions of 1990s food revivalism aside, mine was pretty tasty. The bagel was warm, light and perfectly toasted and the filling was a failsafe combination of smoked salmon, red onion, cream cheese (actually, quark), dill and greens. The four different bagel fillings on offer ($7.50–$9.50) can also be served in sandwich form at the same price.

The kindness ethos at Grace clearly extends to their level of service, which is unfailingly cheerful and friendly. Even the handmade menu is sprinkled with little in-jokes and wry asides, such as offering Berocca for $2 with the promise ‘we won’t judge you’. Good grace? This place has it in spades.