Ascot Food Store is a new cafe in Moonee Ponds which has got me all excited about discovering suburban cafe gems.
From the small, unremarkable frontage you can’t tell what inventive things are going on in the kitchen. But once I stepped inside I knew that I was onto something good.
The fitout was polished hipster chic, with naked bulbs, small floral arrangements and a glossy black takeaway waiting area/bar stool dining in the front room. The space expanded to another two rooms at the back, with an outdoor courtyard as well.
The all day breakfast and lunch menu takes an interesting path through coconut sago pudding and duck egg with brioche to ramen and spicy fried chicken wings. The head chef David Stewart was previously of Tender Trap in Doncaster, another suburban gem I hear.
I tried the fried egg with pork belly and green mango salad ($18.50). What came out was a restaurant quality dish, both in presentation and taste. The various elements were beautifully arranged crossways, with several hunks of tender pork laid over a sweet salad and crumbles of peanut praline. I particularly liked the genius addition of a poached egg gently fried, so that the yolk inside was still runny over the plate while the exterior had a gentle crispness.
I also tried the brioche french toast with creme fraiche, spiced berries, strawberries, crushed macadamias and a drizzle of Pedro Ximinez sticky syrup ($15.50). Again the presentation brought a gasp of delight – a flotilla of colour and prettiness with the addition of the edible flowers as well. The creme fraiche was too tart for my liking but otherwise a very accomplished dish, albeit on the small side for the price.
For (second) dessert I couldn’t go past the housemade doughnuts, theatrically prodded with a syringe of strawberry jam or lemon curd (all their cakes are made in house). The doughnuts themselves were airy and fluffy and not overfried. Addictive!
Ascot Food Store will start opening nights once their liquor licence is approved. Until then, get down there for breakfast and lunch before all the non-locals start trekking across town to try it out.