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.
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.
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.
|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.