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Thursday, 9 October 2014

Grub Food Van

To say 'thank you' for loaning him my travel pack, a friend shouted me brunch at Grub Food Van (87-89 Moor Street, Fitzroy) one day in July. It's one of those places you've heard of, but never think to go to until someone takes you. Knowing my penchant for blogging, my friend suggested this place specifically, and I'm glad he did, because it's definitely one of the more unique venues I've been to in a while.

Open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks, the Grub Food Van is essentially an outdoor site and greenhouse based around a retro silver caravan permanently ensconced at the front of the lot. Owners Mark Murphy and Tim Mann imported the 1965 Airstream caravan from the States and refurbished it for hospitality use.

The van

A caravan brings with it the notion of being immersed in your surroundings, and this is translated through to the menu via produce grown in the onsite greenhouse, with much of the rest sourced from local suppliers. I was pleased to see a list of Grub's suppliers on their website (complete with hyperlinks!). So many venues bring in certain products and magically expect their patrons to come in specially for them, without advertising or even identifying them first.

Funky outdoor settings

Entertained kids = happy kids = happy cafe patrons

Just a block from Brunswick Street, the first thing you see on the site is the van to your right. There are a bunch of tables outside, as well as quirky finishings like faded rugs, a rusty wheel of some kind, graffiti, corrugated water tanks and an array of greenery. There is even a kids' cubby house.

Ping-pong centrepiece

The quirkiness continues inside the greenhouse, the indoor area onsite known as the Grub Hole, which has been converted from an industrial building. There is astro turf, mismatched garden furniture, plants galore, colourful crocheted rugs, and the centrepiece is a large ping-pong table (there to be used, I assume). There is also an odd assortment of old toys -- some rather sinister looking. Overall, the effect is something like a green sanctuary inside your grandparents' shed. It's comfortable, but also interesting.

Nanna wuz here

Evil toys and suspended teddy bears

When we were there, my coffee (from Five Senses) was beautifully made, and water was served in an appealingly ugly plastic teapot (hey, why not?!).

Ugly water pot. And my travel pack.

My friend ordered the Reuben, which I'm not sure he was all that impressed by, but I thought it looked good. I had smoked salmon on pumpernickel, served with egg, creme freche and some kind of fruit preserve. It was a delicious blend of flavours, and just filling enough. The menu here is seasonal and constantly evolving.

Reuben sandwich

Smoked salmon goodness

In the drinking hours, boutique beers are on offer, as well as cocktails by Kim Scott (Spice Temple) and wines selected by Anne-Marie Bunting (Lake House). Food is by Georgina Adamson and comprises deli-style food with artisan breads and charcuterie from Piper Street. For example, you could pick yourself up a slice of quiche, a sandwich, pastry, ploughman's platter or cheese board.

Obviously suited to summer gatherings (although there are heaters during winter), I think Grub Food Van would be perfect for a late-afternoon coffee or beer in the sun along with some chit-chat. Pets are welcome, and as well as entertainment in the form of ping-pong, there is also free wifi. Just make sure you check the hours online before you head over, as these are variable, like the menu.

I'll be checking out Grub Food Van for dinner or drinks this summer as a point of comparison to their brunch.

Grub Food Van on Urbanspoon