As human beings, we all have our strange little foibles, don’t we?

My friend R will eat tomatoes, but only if they’re on pizza. RM likes strawberry jam, but won’t eat strawberries. I don’t drink coffee, but I’m a sucker for tiramisu. Weird, I know.

Which leads me to the housemade tiramisu at Johnston Street Foodstore. A thing of true beauty! But while Ernestine Ulmer said ‘Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first’, I’m going to start from the beginning of my meal before I launch into my ode to a coffee-flavoured dessert.

Johnston Street Foodstore is a classy little shop which is aiming to be the gourmet providore-next-door. The cafe part serves Gravity Espresso coffee and changing selection of sandwiches and salads in neat, retro-chic surroundings – cue distressed polished concrete flooring, old metal signs as wall decorations, vintage scales and Thonet chairs. In the tall glass fridge and lined neatly along the walls are take-home meals, a daily delivery of Dench bread and pastries plus a small selection of Australian produce and products, from charcuterie, fancy cheese and oils, my favourite Gundowring icecream, to Mozi homewares.

During my visit I didn’t see anyone purchasing goods from the shop but there was a steady stream of people grabbing coffee, a sandwich from a choice of four on offer or a salad for lunch.

I decided to get a large mixed bowl of pasta salad with Buxton trout, cherry tomatoes and walnuts plus some classic potato salad ($9.50). I was impressed with the penne pasta salad as they didn’t skimp on the trout and I could smell the heady smokiness of the fish before I even started eating. The potato salad could have done with a touch more salt but was otherwise a fairly standard offering of boiled potatoes lightly flecked with chives and dill, fortunately not glooped with mayonnaise, my pet hate.

The salads were good but not remarkable – the real wow factor came with dessert. As I said earlier, I can never go past a tiramisu and this one came in a huge tall glass advertising ‘made with fresh Gravity espresso‘ ($7.80). I was a little concerned because on outward appearances it looked like nothing but marscapone but I needn’t have worried – my tall spoon stabbed straight to the heart of layers of coffee-soaked sponge and an equal proportion of creamy cheese. It was absolutely perfect – not too soggy, not too sweet, not too much of either coffee or marscapone. And a serving sufficient for two people at half the price you’d pay in a restaurant. A calorific masterpiece, really.

Add the out-out-this-world dessert to quiet, chilled out surroundings and attentive service (my water was regularly topped up without asking and they offered to supply any Dench baked goods I needed if I gave them one day’s notice) and I’ll be sure to return to Johnston Street Foodstore.

For other good lunches in Fitzroy, try De Clieu, Newtown Social Club and La Niche.

  • Johnston Street Foodstore, 256 Johnston St, Fitzroy +61 3 9416 1118

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