Words by Farah Beaini & Scott Viney Photography by Scott Viney
There are many things the corner of King Street and Flinders Lane is well known for; strippers, clubs and a souvlaki shop that curbs the post drinking hunger. Fine dining? Not quite.
Indeed, its colourful reputation has precluded many restaurateurs from establishing new ventures close-by, preferring instead the safer and more well-trodden food scene on the other side of town.
All this changed last year when true to form, and right in the middle of winter, The Grain Store went against the grain and opened near that very corner. A new food experience was born in the most unlikely city location.
Initially established as a brunch venue, The Grain Store has quickly gained a popular following with its well-executed dishes that are locally sourced and organic.
A year later, and The Grain Store is still going strong. With its seasonally changing menu, it makes every experience a new one – brunch and now dinner. With the Melbourne summer inching closer, The Modern Connoisseur was invited to preview The Grain Stores Summer offerings.
To give a fair comparison, The Modern Connoisseur gives you a ‘his/her’ perspective – making sure there is no gender bias.
Green asparagus, burrata, char-grilled orange, black barley, hazelnut, rosemary sable
Pan seared scallops, smoked eggplant, butternut boudin noir sandwich, ricotta lemon curd, crisp leeks
Poached veal fillet, avocado, tuna mayonnaise, charred shallots, white anchovies, caper berries
I love freshly cooked asparagus. When prepared right they can be exceptionally moist and soft; making for a pleasant standalone ingredient. The asparagus and burrata (fresh mozzarella cheese and cream) was beautiful as the creaminess of the burrata married well with the asparagus. Complemented with black barley and pickled cauliflower gave the dish more depth.
The pan seared scallops was a favourite among the table. Mixing with the butternut boudin noir sandwich made for a sweet combination, but for me, it was the crisp leeks that made the dish more exciting. Scallops are always loved, however I felt the complementing ingredients were a little too over powering.
Finally, the thin pieces of veal fillet were exceptionally smooth and tender; the perfect piece of meat to mop up the avocado and tuna mayonnaise. Combined with the anchovies and caper berries created a pleasant tangy taste.
I really enjoyed the selection, and felt each dish was carefully prepared so that patrons could enjoy discovering the distinctive flavours of its components. And yet, retain an appreciation for the creativity and complementarity of their combination.
With such an enticing selection, it is difficult to choose a stand-out favourite. For me, however, the veal fillet was exceptionally and delicately prepared, retaining just the right amount of flavour; the caper berries perfectly balanced the creaminess of the avocado and tuna mayonnaise to create a harmonious dish with just the right amount of kick.
The creaminess of the burrata and the pickled cauliflower worked wonderfully with the well-cooked asparagus, making me reconsider my apathy towards this perennial plant.
Lakes Entrance dory filets, new season asparagus, soft herb spaetzle, charred corn salsa
Free range Aylesbury duck breast, fennel slaw, nicola potato, crème fraiche, caramelised carrot, pine nuts
His: Sampling the Lake Entrance dory fillets, is in my view, felt like it came from the pages of a weekender magazine. The visuals were alluring and inspiring with the asparagus, corn salsa and spaetzle being the bed for the seared fillets. The dish is very summery with its lightness and seafood theme, and by the end of the dish I found myself quite satisfied. The soft herb spaetzle was a highlight for me, looking a lot like risoni, as the starch and herb flavours had surprisingly elevated the fillets. And while looking like a simple constructed dish, the depth of flavours makes for a delightful main.
Her: Duck has always held a special place in my heart, bringing back memories of fine dining experiences with my family overseas. Buoyed by the precursor dishes, I could not wait to try The Grain Store’s offering, and was aptly rewarded. The quality of the meat and the experience of the chef became quickly apparent, as did the refreshing nature of the fennel remoulade, which offered a delightful summery lightness to accompany the succulent and flavoursome duck breast. It truly highlighted the delicate subtleties of French cuisine and transported me back to the warm summery days of my childhood. Parfait!
Black forest gateau, chocolate ganache, cherries, vanilla kirsch panna cotta, cocoa nibs, Grain Store Souffle
His: Desserts play a crucial part to the dining experience. It’s the last taste that patrons experience before embarking home, and getting it right is crucial to achieve an overwhelming positive experience. The dessert selection was a strong improvement to the previous experiences I have had. The stand out for me was the vanilla kirsh panna cotta; plated in what deceptively looked like a white chocolate, the smooth taste of the panna cotta worked well with the black forest gateau.
Her: If you’re like me, and you love your dessert so much you would prefer it over dinner, then you can’t go wrong at The Grain Store. While I felt the goat’s cheese was slightly too pungent for the selection on offer, each choice was a heavenly mix of flavours designed to wet your taste buds and leave you wondering where your dessert disappeared to. The vanilla kirsh panna cotta was exquisite with the black forest gateau.
Mon – Tue: 7am -4pm
Wed – Frid: 7am -4pm, 6pm-10pm
Sat: 8am-4pm, 6pm-10pm
517 Flinders Lane , Melbourne