I'm currently visiting Melbourne from Perth, and the Ascot Food Store is somewhere that my daughter and her partner have been wanting to take me for quite a while. While it's on a fairly main road, it's very discrete in its presentation with simple presentation and signage. The decor and fit-out is lovely, though, and the whole place has a very relaxed and comfortable feel. They make very good use of the old house, although I must confess that I spent most of my time sitting at one of the street tables.
Coming from Perth, the first thing that I noticed was the service. There was some! OK, if you've been to Perth, you'll know that we aren't renowned for our hospitality service levels - so it's always nice to receive anything more than wandering up to the counter, ordering, and taking a number. The service at the Ascot Food Store was quick and friendly, and I was treated as if I was a regular. We had a quick chat about the music that was on, and our questions about some of the menu options were responded to in a way that reflected a very good knowledge of what is a very interesting menu with some imaginative dishes.
That was probably one of the highlights for me. The menu options currently include 'Fruit Loaf with Stilton and Truffle Honey', 'Apple Wood Smoked Ocean Trout, Compressed Cucumber, Torched Cauliflower, Puffed Black Rice, Potato Mousse, and Roe', and 'Soft Shell Crab Burger, Sauce Gribiche, Poached Tomatoes, and Watercress'. We decided on 'Duck Egg, Toasted Brioche, Shitake Mushrooms, Parsley Butter, and Shaved Pecorino', 'Avocado, Goats Curd, Pumpkin Brioche, Pickled Succhini, and 62° Egg', and 'Scrambled Eggs with a side of La Hoguera Duroc Serrano (Aged 20 months'. These were complemented with a some delicious juices and shakes.
Although the descriptions of the various dishes may make them sound a little complicated, the food itself is very well prepared and quite simply presented to a very high standard. In fact, I was very surprised at how quickly the dishes were brought to the table, and the almost impeccable presentation at our late-morning brunch.
The 'Duck Egg, Toasted Brioche, Shitake Mushrooms, Parsley Butter, and Shaved Pecorino' was delicious, and the ingredients complemented each other perfectly. My palate obviously can't distinguish between a duck egg and a chicken egg, but that's probably irrelevant because of the way the entire dish combined with each mouthful. The shaved Pecorino was a delightful adjunct to the egg, brioche, and mushrooms.
Avocado, Goats Curd, Pumpkin Brioche, Pickled Succhini, and 62° Egg
My daughter selected the 'Avocado, Goats Curd, Pumpkin Brioche, Pickled Succhini, and 62° Egg' based on the look of our neighbouring table's order, and she wasn't disappointed. It has now apparently gone to the top of her list of dishes to try again and recommend, and the little portion that I stole from her had me agreeing.
Scrambled Eggs with a side of La Hoguera Duroc Serrano - Aged 20 Months
Her partner wasn't too hungry, and selected the equivalent of bacon and eggs (Scrambled Eggs with a side of La Hoguera Duroc Serrano - Aged 20 Months). There is a reason that bacon and eggs is a classic breakfast/brunch dish, and the Ascot Food Store didn't disappoint. I think that there is even more pressure on chefs to 'get it right' when they need to prepare and present such a simple and straight-forward dish, and this was delicious and perfectly cooked.
I am very glad indeed that my daughter and her partner chose the Ascot Food Store to be one of the first restaurants we visited on my trip to Melbourne, and I won't hesitate to enjoy their food and service again during my next visit. I can confidently recommend it to you, and it merits a solid 4½ stars out of 5.