Grub Food Van

Restaurants Fitzroy
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 (Photograph: Graham Denholm)
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Photograph: Graham Denholm

Kick back in an indoor garden and play a round of ping pong in this cozy all-day eatery

These days four years makes you a long-serving venue in the hospitality world, but Grub Food Van is going on five years old and it’s only getting better with age. When it first opened as a café, the kitsch backyard look was in full swing: seats were covered in crocheted blankets and the ping pong table took pride of place in the indoor garden seating area. These days, Grub is also open for dinner most nights or nibbles over one of their self-described “Fancy Drinks” (cocktails). 

On our visit, the ping pong table had been packed away for winter (it’ll be back in summer), and bowls of walnuts with shells on were sitting on each table ready for some pre-dinner crackin’. Grub’s lengthy menu spans brunch option as well as all-day, bar snacks, canapés, and set menus. The low price point dinner sets are generous and offer a great way to graze away your evening and they max out at at $55 that sees a table for two heaving with six serves per person. Arrive hungry. 

To start you get two boards with pickled vegetables, a smooth duck liver parfait and a zingy avocado and fermented silken tofu dip that pairs well with a glass of crisp riesling. They always say don't fill up on bread, but the umami-rich cultured butter is so good you won't want to stop. The two mains on our visit signal the changing of the seasons with a light dish of confit salmon that you pile high on the accompanying rice crackers with wasabi cream and bitter salad leaves.

Switch your drinking hand to the fruity Bress pinot noir for the wild mushrooms with potato fondants that follows. It doesn't hit the mark as well as the refreshing salmon dish. Despite the many components that make up the dish the flavours of parmesan, and miso mustard are flattened by the sweet, black vinegar.

If you’re familiar with Grub’s cabinet of cakes and tarts, dessert will come as something of a surprise. Every mouthful of the dainty custard apple brûlée with ginger molasses tuile, coconut ice cream and dehydrated raspberry is a textural mouth party and the coconut ice cream is a tropical dream. This looks and tastes nothing like the big slices of cakes usually served at Grub for afternoon tea, but that's not a bad thing. 

Summers have always been Grub’s game but now that Grub’s proven how well it does nights in winter we’d love to see their garden clubhouse feel continue on balmy evenings as the weather warms up. Grub’s menu may have grown up, but the things that made it popular in the first place are still around, if not better. The eponymous Airstream food van, bought on eBay, hasn’t moved an inch from its front garden spot and a steady stream of coffees are still coming out of it daily. And if you think one half of the venue looked like an indoor garden before, it looks like a tropical greenhouse now. Grub’s laid down its roots and thrived; it’s definitely worth coming back to see how it’s grown if it’s been a while since your last visit. 

Venue name: Grub Food Van
Contact:
Address: 87-89 Moor St
Fitzroy
3065
Opening hours: Tues-Sat 8am-10pm; Sun 8am-6pm.
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