The Grain Store

Kylie Northover
Fresh and light: Inside the Grain Store.
Fresh and light: Inside the Grain Store. Photo: Penny Stephens

517 Flinders Lane Melbourne, Victoria 3000

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Features Licensed, Vegetarian friendly, Accepts bookings
Prices Moderate (mains $20-$40)
Chef Ingo Meissner
Phone 03 9972 6993

Breakfast in this windswept part of the CBD has, until recently, been largely confined to your usual toasties and muffins, but for the past year the Grain Store has been stepping it up with their creative menu of locally produced, seasonal and sustainable food. Their environmentally and, in part, vegan-friendly menu complete with on-trend super foods and grains, doesn't mean stodgy hippie food though.

German-born and trained chef Ingo Meissner (formerly of St Ali) is simply interested in cooking food that's in season and ''the way it should be enjoyed''.

''I think breakfast should be the nicest meal of the day, but still small enough not to make you so full you would like to go back to bed,'' he says.

Smoked salmon omelette and truffle creme fraiche.
Smoked salmon omelette and truffle creme fraiche. Photo: Penny Stephens

''Our menu is fresh, healthy and I want to be a bit different and a little bit educational as well.''

You can order a simple dish of poached eggs but they're better showcased in Meissner's cotechino and pearl lentil cassoulet, served with red kale, vanilla parsnip, pear and cider relish and pistachio ($19), just one example of his decadent breakfast offerings. Even the granola comes as a toasted granola parfait with mandarin, chia seed yoghurt, quince jam and quinoa milk ($13) and his vegan-friendly porridge manages to sound delicious as well, served with candied grapefruit, coconut water and golden flaxseed dukkah ($14).

While you can wash that down with the house-made juices ($8), you could instead opt for a boutique coffee - St Ali for milk and Axil for espresso and cold drip.

The smoked salmon omelette and truffle creme fraiche with sweet winter fennel, chipotle romesco salsa, rye crostini and crispy quinoa ($20), at once light and rich, is one of the most popular brekkie choices.

''The omelette is always a winner, and I've been perfecting it over the last few months,'' Meissner says. ''The other is the Portobello mushrooms (served with gruyere potato rosti, poached eggs, hazelnut hollandaise and Jerusalem artichoke chips, $18), which are on there forever but we change the garnish with the seasons.''

The other wintry favourite is the ginger beer gammon steak with smoky borlotti beans, fried egg, nashi pear fritters, remoulade, salsa verde and apple vincotto ($20), an extraordinary combination of hearty and delicate flavours.

''Really I'm just trying to work out what works together,'' Meissner says - and, he adds, ''re-educate'' diners.

''Our philosophy, which shines through on the breakfast menu the most, is about seasonality - there are no berries on there (now) because they're out of season. You can still buy them in supermarkets but what's the point? They taste crap!''

Heading into autumn, Meissner is excited about new season ingredients such as cabbage, feijoa and persimmons.

''I know some customers have been stuck in their ways … for breakfast, but feel I can change that.''

If that means having to eat french toast with walnut praline for brekkie, we're all for change.