Grub Food Van review: Breakfast Out

Published 13 November 2012
View original review at Breakfast Out


Another man’s treasure

I’d seen and heard a great deal about Grub before even setting foot in the place, due to its supremely Instagrammable interior. Whether it was the shiny chrome 1965 Airstream van parked in the courtyard outside, the giant plastic burgers and corn cobs doubling as stools, or the slightly terrifying dolls heads peering out from towering tomato plants, anyone I knew who’d visited had found something worth sharing with a quick picture upload.

Tucked away just off Brunswick Street, Grub started life as a quirky alfresco dining experience courtesy of the abovementioned Airstream, a smattering of tables and chairs, a ping-pong table and a simple yet delicious selection of food and drinks. The van concept soon expanded into the neighbouring indoor greenhouse area, which as well as plants and herbs (all used in the cooking), is decorated with everything from tribal masks and antique gardening implements to vintage children’s toys. Believe it or not, the effect is surprisingly harmonious and tranquil. The large, airy space allows for plenty of room between tables, so it never feels jam-packed and you can always hear yourself think.

The menu is an all-day affair containing a few unusual numbers (such as a silky rice pudding with pineapple and strawberry salsa and a whack of pineapple granita) but mostly variations on the kind of good, old-fashioned tucker befitting the cafes name. The Grub Plate ($15) sums up the simple and seasonal food ethic nicely. A slightly souped-up version of the traditional ploughman’s lunch, Grub’s version sets off the standard hard-boiled egg, gypsy ham, crusty bread and tangy cheddar cheese combination with a scoop of delicious, creamy pork rillettes and a swift kick of salsa. The avocado on toast ($12.50) is another example of a basic dish done really well. The humble cafe classic is lifted to a new level with the addition of a zingy corn, chilli and lime salsa and buttery manchego cheese.

A word on the kid-friendliness of this venue. There’s ample space for prams, plenty of non-threatening menu items for picky little eaters, a resident pooch to remove any embarrassing food mess from beneath your table and plenty of things for children to look at and play with. However, do yourself – and the staff – a favour and keep a close eye on kiddie hazards such as fish ponds, gardening tools and errant tricycles.

Grub is unlike any other cafe in Melbourne and that’s surely something to be commended. The food and coffee are great, but it’s the surrounds that truly make this place worthy of a repeat visit. In a sea of kitset, by-the-numbers cafes, or slick interiors by big-name designers, Grub is a real breath of fresh air. It’s a bit like hanging out at your eccentric uncle’s place, only with home-made spiced baked beans instead of Heinz and Five Senses coffee rather than instant, and it’s sure to be a Fitzroy favourite for many years to come.