Sean Goedecke is a freelance writer trying to visit every cafe in Australia. If you enjoy his articles, it can't hurt to click the 'like' link at the bottom or subscribe.
Published September 24th 2011
Across the road from Yarraville's famous Sun Theatre, the Cornershop is a wonderful restaurant that is half casual food and half fine dining. Whoever came up with the name must have had a sense of humour since, despite being on an actual corner, the Cornershop is far classier than it sounds. While the food's not cheap, the quality is very respectable and it's worth a visit – if you go at the right time.
Entering the Cornershop, you have a choice between sitting inside or outside. Inside is pleasant and comfortable, but sitting outside offers fresh air and a candle in the centre of your table. Like most important life decisions, where you sit will in practice be decided by the weather. Although the outside seating is sheltered, it can still be cold out there, and if there's a strong wind you can say goodbye to your candle. If you point out that your candle's gone out, expect the staff to put in a valiant effort trying to keep the flame lit. To their credit, they'll scurry back and forth with matches and fresh candles, but you're probably better off just sitting inside.
The menu is short but eclectic, an effect that's sharpened by the Cornershop's practice of having separate menus for each meal of the day, rather than having one large menu with several sections. Why don't more restaurants do this? It makes the menu easy to read and, most importantly, makes going to the Cornershop for breakfast feel different to going there for dinner.
The options themselves have that pleasant 'touch of fine dining' feel to them: try the braised meatballs with grilled Turkish bread and parmesan for lunch, or the quinoa porridge with vanilla bean, maple syrup and roast rhubarb for breakfast. It's all very interesting – reading the menu makes you curious as well as hungry, which is always a good sign. If you're brave enough, why not try the black rice with strawberries, coconut yoghurt and palm sugar?
This is quinoa. Apparently you can make porridge out of it.
While none of the options are exactly cheap, they're very good value for the quality of the food. From the presentation to the taste, each dish is almost perfect: the zucchini and mint fritters, one of the signature dishes, is just the right kind of crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside. The lamb is cooked so that there's still a little bit of pink in the middle (although they'll cook it more if for some strange reason you want to). Spoil yourself and order the polenta-crusted quail on chickpea puree.
So what does the Cornershop do wrong? Well, the plates for each meal are seemingly chosen at random: one day you'll get your zucchini and mint fritters in a large bowl, the next on a long ceramic plate about the width of a matchbox. Good luck not spilling any of the cumin yoghurt and rocket – you'll need it. The Cornershop also fills up at various points throughout the day with families, including children who blissfully wander around (and under) your table. Unless you want to stick to late dinners and early breakfasts, just grit your teeth and focus on how good the food tastes.
These are pretty minor, though, compared to how good this restaurant is on average. Seriously, if you're in Yarraville for a meal (perhaps you're going to the Sun Theatre), consider going here. Even if you're not here for a meal, try the excellent coffee or get one of the decadent desserts. It might just become one of your favourite restaurants.