A trip to Belgrave in Melbourne’s east typically involves a rendezvous with the steam train Puffing Billy, a leafy walk along the main strip or ordering a Devonshire tea. Some wouldn’t think to make a trip specifically for the tasty treats found at Grunge Café.
This little café speaks its name in volumes. As diners wander in from the main street, they’re met by a little local that looks more like a grungy surf-shack than the typical old world businesses dotting The Dandenongs. A warm, relaxed welcome from the staff is complemented by raw wooden counter, retro stools, scatter cushions and a glorious turntable nearby crates of LPs. Red Hot Chili Peppers’ acoustic gem Road Trippin’ wafts overhead as diners laze away and sip herbal tea or freshly squeezed juice. The menu is a simple sheet on a little clipboard; a succinct list of short-order pleasers.
It’s 1.30pm on a lazy Sunday so it’s practically minutes after ordering when a plate of the perfectly named Stampede arrives. The dish is a plate full with homemade baked beans, smashed avocado, crusty toast and a fresh side salad, all topped with a light splash of balsamic dressing. The beans are full-bodied, tomatoey and very tasty; resonating a casserole-like personality. Its sauce is thick enough to dunk the toast in. The avocado, lightly flavoured with garlic, is spoonable as well and mopped up with the remaining toast. Leafy greens in the salad, peppered with sunflower seeds, are a refreshing end to the fullness achieved after polishing off the beans and avocado. An order of their Lazy Days, freshly juiced pineapple and orange, is an energising choice to pair with this delicious plate.
This satisfying lunch is in need of a winning dessert finish and there’s a cake cabinet conveniently persuading diners nearby. Diners simply can’t go past the vegan chocolate cake. It’s a moist and decadent chocolate sponge, layered and smothered in a coffee "butter" cream frosting and scattered in shavings of rich, dark chocolate. The task of finding vegan chocolate cake in Melbourne is hard to achieve, so this cake is one that will have vegans all over the city swooning in dessert glory. It’s tempting to stay longer to sample the brownies, though any more would ruin the experience. They’ll need to wait until next time, which is a perfect excuse to return.
Find your stampede of flavours at Grunge Café, 1696 Burwood Highway Belgrave Victoria 3160 Australia. Phone: 03 9754 1764. Open Monday to Friday 8am to 4.30pm, Saturday and Sunday 9am to 5pm.