Coming across Grace was a bit of a lucky find for us. There Snooze and I were, engaging in a post brunch walk through the backstreets of Fitzroy, checking out the street art, and we come across not one but two interesting looking places - Grace and Industry Beans. Figuring that Bureaucrat might also be interested in checking out somewhere a bit different to her usual haunts we noted Grace as somewhere to make a return visit to asap.
I have to say, particularly when I first saw this place, it was pretty much a case of love at first sight. The vibe I got was very warm and welcoming, with nothing fancy about the decor and some of the quirky little nick nacks around the place seemingly straight from Grandma's kitchen. Space inside is limited as the cafe is kind of small, but on a day with warmer weather it would be nice to sit at some of the outside tables, soaking up the sun.
Foodwise, the first thing you notice are all the breakfast desserts lined up along the front counter. Brownies, friands, Portuguese style egg tarts - it was obvious that we would be indulging after our mains.
The breakfast list contains no real surprises, with the sort of dishes you'd see at 80% of the cafes in the area. Bureaucrat's choice was the BRAT, which caused a little confusion but stood for bacon, rocket, avocado and tomato. With nice, fresh fillings the two best things were the B's, nicely crispy bacon (so many places slightly under do it for my taste) and great bread, I think courtesy of Dench (but stand ready to be corrected).
Snooze went for the baked eggs, with chickpeas, eggplant and tomato, feta, cooked with garlic and cumin. Talking about this dish with Bureaucrat was amusing (me "I liked it, cumin makes everything taste better". Bureaucrat "I liked it despite the cumin".). Sometimes when you order baked eggs they come overly soggy and overpowered by the use of too much tomato, but the flavours here were nicely balanced.
My choice was very unusual for me, the field mushrooms with roast beetroot, toasted sunflower seeds, rocket herbs and feta. Why so unusual? No meat or eggs, beetroot (which I have mixed feelings about) and feta, which I often find overly heavy. So, given I was a bit outside my comfort zone, I was much impressed by how much I did like this. The earthy flavours of the mushrooms combined with the creamy feta almost had me forgetting this was a meat free dish, and the use of toasted seeds gave it much needed texture.
But clearly the best dishes were our two cakes, auntie's lemon slice (although I forget which auntie) and the sticky date cake with butterscotch sauce. The lemon slice was nicely restrained, lemony without being overpoweringly so and not overly sweet. Best thing about it, loved the biscuity base. Even better was the warm pudding, verging on sinfully rich after what we had already eaten and with a beautifully flavoured sauce.
Staff were friendly, other than being a little squeezy a nice place to eat and with good, 'kind' food. Add to that the interesting backstory of having once been a brothel and you have the sort of quirky but good place that I can't help but liking.
Food - 8
Ambience - 8
Service - 7.5
Price - 7
76 Rose Street
Fitzroy VIC 3065