Grandpa Joe, Ascot Vale

197 Union Road Ascot Vale | 9078 0595
We went: Friday April 18 2014 (Good Friday) | Verdict: 18/25

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In a nutshell: small, busy trendy cafe on happening Union Road. Good coffee and cool vibe. Unfortunately food and service was a little lacking on the day we visited.

We ate:

- ham and egg pizza
- potato hash

Food: when it finally arrived, the ham and egg pizza was everything you would want in a brunch pizza. The base was clearly homemade and, while on the crunchy side, was delicious. The tomato sauce blended beautifully with the cherry tomatoes, and grilled cheese. Unfortunately the egg was like a plastic film attached to the pizza’s top but I can overlook this given the quality of the rest of it.

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The wife at the potato hash which I also sampled. The hashbrown was the star of the dish the rest was a bit tasteless. “It needed a bit more seasoning,” she said. I said, “there’s the salt, stop complaining.” What impressed us most was the kitchen’s ability to tweak the dish — we asked for no poached eggs and no coleslaw. This was no problem. It does say “vegetarian and gluten free options available” but not all places deliver on their promises. GPJ does.

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The menu is not overly adventurous. I was curious about the wasabi cured salmon but wasn’t brave enough for raw fish at 10am. The honey-glazed bacon also looked good. Everything at GPJ is very reasonably priced. 3/5

Coffee: no pour-over option but they did have aeropress and cold drip filter options. I ordered a single origin aeropress filter from Ethiopia, which was tasty and hit the spot. Actually, the aeropress at Reverence was inferior to this! It came in a 250ml clear jug and the cups were cool too. The wife had a chai soy latte, which was also good. Impressively, they have cold drip coffee in trendy little bottles available for take-away. Perfect for those warmer days or when the coffee at work tastes like dirty bath water. Two thumbs up there. Coffee brand is 5 Senses. 4/5

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Vibe: I don’t really like the vibe here but my wife does and that’s important because she has good taste most of time. I can definitely see what GPJ is trying to do. (I know how wanky-patronising that sounds but I review brunch places which by its very nature is the epitome of just that). They seem to be going for the old, laid-back, retro feel with the record player and wall art and hodge-podge of mixed furniture. Some people like that. I usually do too. The reason I don’t think it really works is because it’s so new and in my head I know all this stuff hasn’t been here for ages, like in an old place, but has just been placed there for trendy cosmetic appeal. “That’s no big deal,” my wife says. She could be right. But I write the words. Outdoor dining is better than inside, IMO. However, not when it’s cold and windy, which it was when we went. Inside, there isn’t much room (it’s bigger than Little Bird, but smaller than Reverence). There were heaps of people ordering take-away coffee on Good Friday, which generated a healthy buzz. 3/5

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Price: about $50. Really good value. 5/5

Service: a bit of a let down. Yes, it was Good Friday and they were crazy busy. But as I have said before on MBS, the sign of a good brunch place is how well they can deal with the mania. OK, drink orders were taken swiftly: tick. Took a while to arrive but it took even longer for our food orders to be taken. Then, perhaps because I ordered the pizza, food arrived about 30mins later. By then the leg of the table looked appetising. Staff were polite without being warm. 3/5

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