So this visit to Melbourne was a bit different this time because I had husbo and kids in tow.  Result – not eating out as much as I could’ve.  But I still managed to get to Ascot Food Store and Darling Street Espresso, both of which were delish.

Let me just start out by saying that Melbourne with kids is very different to those solo sojourns to Melbourne where I eat and drink my way around the city.  But boy did we have fun!  The Melbourne Zoo is amazing, some great playgrounds (the Royal Park Nature Playground is the bomb), and we stayed with dear friends of ours who have four kids (so yes, four adults and six children, a bit cray cray but awesome).

Ah how my travel experiences have changed… but don’t worry dear reader, I still managed one boozy night out (sleep over at a friend’s house, yippee!) and dining out a couple of times.

Ok so enough rambling, on to the food.  Firstly, I visited Ascot Food Store one chilly morning with a friend for a brief mummy break.  First tip here is to beware of diligent parking inspectors as we very nearly got booked 5 minutes before the end of ‘permit zone’ time.

I’ve been to Ascot Food Store before and made a beeline back for the same breakfast I had last time.  The service was friendly and relaxed, we both ordered coffees which were good (as expected).

AvocadoI had the ‘Avocado on Toast’ – Smashed Avocado, Goats Curd, Pumpkin Bread, Pickled Zucchini and 62 degree egg ($17.5).  The reason why I had it again?  The combination of texture, colour, sweet, sour, salty, soft, crunchy.  The super soft egg dribbling its goodness all over my plate.  The carefully selected tasty garnish / microherbs.   So yes, it lived up to my memory of the dish.

Corn FrittersMy friend ordered the ‘Corn Fritters’ – Spiced Avocado, Pickled Zucchini, Soft Poached Egg, Popcorn Shoots ($19.5).  The Fritters were deep fried and crunchy, served atop the Spiced Avo with some greens and Popcorn Sprouts.  She said the brekky was delicious and a great blend of flavours.

I’ve read some not so favourable reviews of the Ascot Food Store of late which is a pity because the food on both my visits has been great.  Hoping they are isolated problems.

OK so there I was at my friend’s house, needing a decent coffee so I used Beanhunter to find the closest and highest rated coffee joint.  Up on my radar comes Darling Street Espresso, so we drove the whole 3 minutes to get there and ordered a couple of coffees.  Based on the quality of the coffee (Beans from Industry Beans), service and general ambience of course I had to read the menu… and I wanted to go back.

After said boozy evening, my friend asked me where I’d like to go for brekky so Darling Street was my choice.  We were both feeling a little dusty so the coffee upon arrival was great.

We decided to share two dishes as there were a few things on the menu that caught our eye.

Nourish bowlFirst up, the Nourish Bowl – felafel and pea fritters, baked pumpkin, chickpea hummus, sumac poachies, roasted sesame dressing ($17.5).  This was a great dish, with the sweet roast pumpkin flavour combining well with the earthiness of the hummus, creamy poached eggs, and crispy fritters.  Yum.

MushroomsFor our other share plate, the Mushrooms – sage roasted, truffled cauliflower puree, poached eggs, kale dust, polenta popcorn, parmesan floss ($18).  To this, we added a side of Panko Crumbed Mac n Cheese ($4.5). Yes, you read that right, I said Panko Crumbed Mac ‘n Cheese.  It may have been a bit OTT but how could we NOT order it?

The Mushroom dish was a wonderful creamy combination of flavours and textures.  The Panko Crumbed Mac ‘n Cheese was truly awesome.  But together?  We overdid it.  A bit too rich for our little morning after tummies.

There was one thing that let Darling Street down: the temperature.  I was cold which is to be expected being from sunny Queensland, but even my acclimatised Melbourne friend said she was cold.  We were both cold during our whole meal.  There was a heater on but it didn’t seem to be doing much.  Not sure if there was a problem with the heating, but it was so bad I didn’t want to go outside and use the loo (brr!).

So there you have it, two brunch faves of mine in Melbourne’s Inner West.  When we first moved to Melbourne years ago our first flat was in Moonee Ponds and most of my friends live there so that area holds a special place in my heart.  For those ‘South of the Yaaarra’ (hee hee) Melbournites, or anyone not in the Moonee Ponds area, I recommend a visit to one of these two very soon.

Ascot Food Store
320 Ascot Vale Rd, Moonee Ponds


Darling Street Espresso
146 Athol Street, Moonee Ponds