• Dinner at the Grain Store (CBD)

After experiencing the superior tastes of local produce from the Parisian markets, I was becoming despondent with the frozen, imported and expensive fruits and vegetables that I buy in Australia.  In Paris, you only need a drizzle of olive oil to serve delicious tomatoes.  Here, we packing dish with extra spice and herbs in an attempt to compensate.   European chef, Ingo Meissner, perhaps had the same frustrations when he became the chef at the Grain Store inspiring a menu focused on Victorian produce, which is mostly organic.  Herbs and flowers are grown on the roof-top garden.  Wine is Victorian too, the French Champagne is the one exception.

The Grain Store has been open for dinners for about a year now.  I remember attending their launch a few years ago and being hungry afterwards with a lack of vegetarian options.  This time we were invited to a full sit down dinner in the private dining room.

The evening started with appetisers of mushroom jelly, pumpkin foam and a chickpea chip.  They were cute with a light texture of the foam.  The light, salty chip was like thin seasoned bhaji with the appearance of a corn chip.  The mushroom jelly was intensely flavoured.  It was a creative, savoury starter.

The 2014 Fontaine Rose by Dominique Portet from the Yarra Valley had tangy aromas and a strong colour.  It was dry with citrus and green on the tongue.

The entree was adorable, like a garden on which the dishes are based.  There were nasturtiums, purple cauliflower, bitter greens, mozzarella with a sweet dressing.  The wine tasted like strawberries against the greens.  Dry biscuits were cheesy, herbed and buttery like savoury  shortbread.  The mozzarella was firm.  The cauliflower was pickled.  Black barley added to the dish with a texture between black rice and lentils.

The home-made light rye sourdough was served with butter from Myrtleford.

The 2012 Yering Station Pinot Noir smelt delicious, rich and chocolaty.  It was different in the mouth; slight tannins, bitter, salty, young, herbaceous and unripe red berries.

Polenta chips were crunchy with cheese on the outside.  Rosemary was dusted on top.  They were fluffy inside with only a hint of the herb flavour and not too much cheese.

The main course included a variety of aspects.  Zucchini flowers were in fritters, warm and crisp.  Bigger slithers of zucchini were lightly cooked and dressed in orange.  There were also cheese fritters, quinoa salad with a tabouli-style dressing and snap dragons to decorate.  The wine started to open up but still had the pop of youth.

Dessert smelt beautiful with the strawberry coulis.  The rich chocolate ganache was delicious.  There was also a vanilla panna cotta with cherries and a sour cherry foam.  Goats’ cheese sorbet added a creative touch, it was light and creamy.  The freeze dried cherry was not dried all the way through but held a bit of crispiness.  The strawberry soufflé was a bit heavy.  Like entree and main, it was a composition of several flavours.

The Grain Store has really stepped into its own since it opened.  The dinner was impressive, creative and inspiring.  I enjoyed how the produce and season dictated each item, and ingredients were thrown together casually, but in a way that created interest without clashing.

The Grain Store
517 Flinders Lane
Melbourne VIC 3000
03 9972 6993

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