Pope Joan has been open for 8 days and is already pumping. But it was always going to be with Matt Wilkinson (who up until last Tuesday was Head Chef at Circa) and Ben Foster (general manager of Carlton’s The Kent) at the helm.
Pope Joan is hidden in Nicholson St, Brunswick East, amongst a couple of abandoned shops and near a metalworks:
Nonetheless, the crowds have come. An early Saturday breakfast and the place was buzzing already. The decor is quirky, with knick knacks lining the walls, some statement tiling and industrial lights.
The menu is pretty comprehensive, with breakfasty options available all day, as well as a list of daily specials that veer more to the lunchtime crowd. There is quite an impressive list of egg dishes (they are Green eggs), with a twist on the usual, think boiled eggs with soldiers, bacon bits and herb salt ($8), baked eggs with tomonian & swiss chard and smoked yoghurt ($12), fried eggs with bacon steak, pineapple and beans ($18), poached eggs with smoked fish rosti ($16), crumbled coddled egg with anchovy and black pudding salad ($16), egg and mushroom pie ($12), ‘nearly’ full English breakfast ($18) and a classic bacon & egg sanga ($8). For the non-egg inclined there is porridge ($7), rice pudding ($10), fresh fruit, banana bread with rhubarb and geranium ($9) and toasted fruit bread ($6).
We ordered some coffees (from Allpress) and considered the menu. With my sweet tooth, I couldn’t resist the rice pudding with poached fruit. However, as I was waiting for it to arrive I couldn’t help but notice the baked eggs coming out of the kitchen – they looked great and I had some serious food envy. Said envy evaporated as soon as I tasted a mouthful of my rice pudding:
This was incredibly light, but really creamy with a good kick of vanilla. The poached rhubarb and pear was served warm and had a lovely scent of cinnamon. I also enjoyed the fact that the pudding itself was not too cold, too often I’ve ordered rice pudding and ended up with a fridge-cold mass of rice.
Mr M ordered the ‘nearly full’ English breakfast:
This was damn good as well. Somewhat hidden under the creamy scrambled eggs was a slice of smokey, thick cut bacon. Flavoursome porky sausage and beans in a rich, almost sweet tomatoey sauce. Yum.
So the upshot is Pope Joan is already busy and given the quality of the food, is likely to be busy for a while. Nonetheless, I think I’ll brave the inevitable crowds for another shot at breakfast – I still have to try those baked eggs!
77-79 Nicholson Street
Brunswick East, Vic
(03) 9388 8858