Normally when I go out to eat in my neighbourhood I choose from one of the many great cafes in my street. Today while driving home I noticed a new cafe a few blocks from where I live. Although the Ascot Food Store has only been open a few weeks it’s already gaining a very good reputation so I thought it was worth stopping the car to get some lunch and put it through my three tick scoring system.
The first tick is for the decor, general ambiance and initial service. So often a new cafe will put a heap of effort into its decor but is let down by staff who are poorly trained and inattentive. This was definitely not an issue at Ascot Food Store. A polished concrete floor, sleek black tiles, a beautiful polished wood communal table with black bentwood chairs, a welcoming smile from the waitress, and most importantly an available seat, all left me with a great initial impression. (One of the many reasons I love the slightly daggy north-western suburbs is that you rarely have to line up for a popular cafe like you do in places like Collingwood and Fitzroy.)
Like many Melburnians I’m very fussy about my coffee. If it is weak or bitter I won’t go back. Fortunately the coffee was excellent so a second big tick was awarded.
Finally, the food. The number of items on the menu, the flavour of the food, and how long your dish takes to get to the table are all important to your overall cafe experience. It’s hard to enjoy a great dish when you’ve had to wait a half hour for it. A menu with only a small number of dishes, none of which appeal to you, can be equally as frustrating. Fortunately, Ascot Food Store has a great selection of brunch/lunch dishes. I chose the fried egg with pork belly, green mango salsa and peanut praline. Whenever I see pork belly on a menu I can’t resist ordering it – one of my many weaknesses when it comes to food. Within 10 minutes the dish was in front of me and it was spectacular. The tart mango combined with the slightly sweet praline was a great constrast to the rich pork flavour. The fried egg with its slightly runny yolk finished off the dish perfectly.
I’ll definitely be venturing away from my street to Ascot Food Store again soon.
Ascot Food Store is located at 320 Ascot Vale Road, Moonee Ponds