Ascot Food Store, Moonee Ponds

320 Ascot Vale Rd Moonee Ponds | 9370 2649
We went: Sun July 27, 2014 | Verdict: 19.5/25

corn fritters front menu two menu1 outside ramen

Ascot Food Store on Facebook


In a nutshell: smart location, smart set-up, however still a few kinks to iron out before this new player is a smooth-running machine.

Food: we had the corn fritters and the ramen. The corn fritters, though a bit doughy, were fried to perfection and had ample condiments that were finger-lickin’ good. One poached egg was one too few, in our opinion.

When the ramen arrived, there was something missing… where’s the broth? Ah, there it is… delivered by another waiter seconds later and drizzled over the naked noodles, mushrooms and two prawns. We appreciated the theatre! “Careful, it’s REALLY hot,” warned the waiter. Um… no it wasn’t. In fact, the heat was an issue with the ramen; it was cold within a minute. Then there was the taste. Perhaps it was foolish of us to order it given how spoilt we had been with ramen in Tokyo recently. Of course a cafe in Moonee Ponds isn’t going to deliver Japanese-standard cuisine. That said, on wintry Sunday morning, you do want a steaming-hot broth that will maintain its heat for at least five minutes. Additionally, it lacked seasoning. Needed salt yet there was none to be found on the outside tables.

Maybe we went a bit ‘safe’ with out order. There are some delicious choices on offer. Looking at food pics on their Facebook-page is a mouth-watering activity. Food verdict: 3.5/5

Coffee: coffee is by Proud Mary. The barista knows what he’s doing. While the filter was ‘unavailable’ despite being advertised, our strong flat white and soy flat white were demolished in seconds. They do need to sort out the point of service area for coffees. When we went the barista was getting a bit grumpy with staff for not getting coffees out quick enough. Not completely their fault though as customers are queuing to pay in the same area. This, I suspect, will be sorted soon. Coffee verdict: 4/5

Service: coffee took about 20 mins to come. Food was pretty quick. Staff were pleasant even though they were under the pump. Service verdict: 4/5

Vibe: strange old area the little zone between Moonee Ponds and Ascot Vale. Young, middle-class families/emerging hipster scene meant the place was buzzing when we went. Unfortunately we think they would be more efficient with 20 or so less seats and focused on quality for fewer people. That said, it’s fantastic to see what they have done with what was previously a bit of an eyesore on Ascot Vale Road. I have little doubt Ascot Vale Food Store, which plans on doing dinners down the track too, has huge potential. There is nothing like it on the street and there are plenty of residents all around it who seem prepared to support it. Vibe verdict: 4/5

Ka-ching: about $40 for coffees and brunch. Price verdict: 4/5

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Karulo Cafe, Moonee Ponds

Cnr Darling St and Athol St, Moonee Ponds

P: 03 9326 2212

In a nutshell: Tucked away in a backstreet of Moonee Ponds, this converted milk bar is buzzing on most weekends, catering to people of all ages. The recently updated menu and their enthusiasm for coffee make this a brunch gem of the west.

We ate:

–       Omelette
–       Baked eggs

Coffee: Filtered coffee (La Linda, Columbia) and soy latte (Bathyspere blend, Thornbury)

Food: I love a twist on an old fave and Karulo’s interpretation of the Baked Eggs is exactly that. Rich and generous amounts of prosciutto line the small hot pan and a small amount of napoli sauce cushions the eggs. Basil is an interesting addition – something you don’t often see in baked eggs – but it works, contributing a freshness and a visual element. A sprinkling of dukkah on top is smart; I initially thought it to be pesto but alas. For cheese, they’ve gone for haloumi, which I usually adore. Unfortunately prosciutto plus haloumi, in this case, equalled a salt overload and had us reaching for water to quench our thirst. The crunchy ciabatta toast and butter was a great accompaniment, however we could have done with one or two more bits.

baked eggs

The omelette (wild mushroom and goat’s cheese) was subtle in comparison and a welcome relief once my wife and I swapped dishes. Less salty, the mushroom and goat’s cheese work a treat in tandem and the side of relish tops it off beautifully.

Coffee: Bathysphere blend from Thornbury-based roasters, Wide Open Road, is their house blend. Coffee is alternated regularly with guest roasters. I had the filtered coffee, which was La Linda from Columbia. Rich in colour with a pleasant, subtle nose, this coffee boasts deep fruity notes of strawberry and grape acidity not uncommon for beans of that altitude. Wife was suitably impressed with coffee art applied to soy latte – no mean feat on soy!

soy flat filter coffee

Price:  $37 (two pax).

Ambience: There are tables as you walk in, in the ‘milk bar’ section. They’ve done a great reno here but I would have liked to see them retain some of that rustic milk bar feel (if it wasn’t for the old ‘Herald Sun’ signs out the front, you wouldn’t know it was an old milk bar. We sat out the back were there are a number of tables. Was comfortable and atmosphere was buzzing once the crowd built.

Kid friendly: not a lot for kids to do but there were plenty of children about and all seemed happy and provided for. There are a number of options on the menu that are targeted specifically for children.

Service: waitress (who we presume was owner) who served us was great. Provided explanations of why items weren’t available with the reason usually related to them making more from scratch – they do care about quality here, which is good to see. They didn’t have single origin coffee because they were still roasting the beans… you can’t criticise that.

Verdict: 7.5/10

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