Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Journal Canteen, Melbourne

Journal Canteen (JC) has been given good reviews in food magazines such as Delicious and Australian Gourmet Traveller, which is how I found out about the restaurant. Journal Cafe on the ground level (JC is on the first floor) is for coffee and cake and the restaurants are not the same. JC is the one that's mentioned in reviews because the head cook/chef is Rosa Mitchell, whose rustic cookbook 'my cousin rosa' is for sale on the kitchen counter. The recipes for the dishes served in JC are all in the book. Rosa herself seated us, by the high table looking out at Flinders Lane, but we moved to a more comfortable table, sharing it with 4 other people. The restaurant was packed.


JC's menu is limited; the menu for the day is scribbled on the black board. The restaurant was formerly a classroom and efforts have been made to give that casual feel. It's not fine dining (although the prices are clearly not canteen prices) and you are reminded of that when the waiter comes and wipes the crumbs left by the previous diners off the table onto the floor with his bare hands. That's just to show how homey and causal they are around there, I suppose. Have a Chinese waiter do that in a Chinese restaurant and he'll be regarded as disrespectful and sloppy.


Yi was on diet and didn't want meat so she ordered a veg main, baked zucchini. The prices weren't clear. We saw 18/24 scribbled next to the mains and didn't ask, because really, how much can baked zucchini cost in a casual retaurant, even if it's highly recommended? Well, AUD24/USD25/RM77 is how much, for 4 strips of baked zucchini on orzo. 

I had the falsomagro, Sicilian beef roll stuffed with cheese and egg, also AUD24/RM77. 

Both the baked zucchini and falso magro were very good (although we both prefer the zucchini; the falsomagro was a little bit dry and boring) and came with a complimentary salad of bread and plain lettuce. There was only one dessert, a choc tart (coffee is complimentary), and we decided that there were just too many (better) choices in other places. The damage was AUD48/USD51/RM154, which I thought was expensive, given the meagre portions.  Sure, the food was good (not excellent) but Melbourne is not short of good Italian restaurants so I think JC is overhyped and overpriced for a 'canteen'.

Journal Canteen, 253 Flinders Lane, Melbourne. Closed Sundays.


Lorie Dodge said...

I almost tried Journal Canteen. I heard of the prices and thought it may be because the food is, well, to die for. However, I'm glad I read this post before going. I can tolerate small servings but I don't think I want to see "sloppy" service. I can change my mind though LOL

terri@adailyobsession said...

lorie: but do try jc and tell me what you think.

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