Tuesday 18 November 2014

East Brunswick cafe: Pope Joan

I heard about Pope Joan long before I managed to go there for a meal.  The hype was right!  I loved it. The cafe is light-filled and stylish.  The meals are unusual and delicious.  The food is prettily arranged, often served on vintage plates.  It is satisfying without being heavy.  The staff waft by with floral jugs for topping up water glasses.  It has been easy to return a few times.

Upon entering the cafe, it seems quite small.  However there are lots of tables down the side.  We had to wait for a seat on a Saturday morning but not for too long.  During the week, it has been easy to find a seat.  On our first visit late last year, Sylvia had a little play in the garden down the back.

It was at that visit that I was first wowed by their fancy tarts.  It was a zucchini tart with basil and grains (pictured at the top).  The pastry shell was filled with a light zucchini mousse that contrasted nicely with the raw zucchini ribbons and creamy soft cheese..  It rested on a salad of quinoa, cranberry and herbs, which lay on a slick of capsicum puree.  All very very good.

My mum had crumbed sardines on a mash of butter beans, feta, capers and currants that she spoke highly of.  Sylvia had the chips. They were sprinkled with a herb salt and came with a cute little jar of tomato relish.  The chips were crinkly and crunchy and most excellent.

I loved the presentation of our food so much that I hoped the people next to us would order something else so I could ogle it.  Disappointingly they chose the same tart as me.

It was so good I wanted to try another dish.  Yet when I returned with E and Sylvia, the option I fancied the most was another tart.  This time it was a spinach and haloumi tart.  It was amazing without quite reaching the dizzy heights of the zucchini pie.  Perhaps the spinach mousse was a little heavier than the light zucchini mousse and it didn't have quite the textural interest.

We were there early enough that E decided to try the rice pudding with blueberries.  He was a little perplexed to find it was served cold in a jar.  Yet once he started eating it, he was most pleased with the creamy fruity concoction.

Sylvia had the fruit toast with butter and jam.  She enjoyed but didn't finish it.  E and I had to help out so I can tell you it was lovely bread and good quality jam.  It is many months now since I was there and I wish my notes were a little more detailed.

My most recent visit, but hopefully not my last, was a few weeks back.  This time I tried one of the sandwiches.  They seem to change regularly but to be quite different to any I have had before.  This sandwich was cauliflower and celeriac slaw, aged cheddar and Branston pickle in a soft wholegrain bread.  A nice twist on a traditional British style of sandwich.  It was very satisfying.  My mum also had a sandwich and Sylvia had chips.

It was a warm day so I also had the lemon and toasted barley spritzer (without the optional gin).  I was attracted by the description of it served with slices of orange and mint.  We all enjoyed the refreshing drink.  Pope Joan also does a lovely apple and pear juice that is far more fruity than sweet.

I had been tempted by the desserts on previous visits but this time I yielded.  The three of us shared a chocolate salted caramel hazelnut tart.  It was heavenly.  The chocolate was gooey (not chilled) with a generous layer of caramel underneath and just enough nuts. It was exactly the sort of decadence I love to finish off a meal.  It is not the cheapest meal in town but I enjoy the interesting food and the stylish crockery.  We will be back.

Pope Joan
75-79 Nicholson Street,
Brunswick East
Tel: (03) 9388 8858
Mon - Fri: 7.30am - 11.30pm
Sat - Sun: 7.30am - 5pm

Pope Joan on Urbanspoon


  1. Definitely sounds like a winner! And hehe I love that you wanted the people next to you to order something different so that you could see it! :P

  2. You share the most interesting eats, Johanna. It really looks like such a quaint place with a yummy selection of food. I might be partial to that wheel barrel filled with scented geraniums but I could never choose any one of those meals. I would definitely want to taste each and every one.

    Thank you so much for sharing, Johanna...

  3. This is the best restaurant name ever! And the food looks so beautiful.

  4. I love the plate the tart is served on and the crinkle cut chips look really good. What a lovely cafe and it's great you've found a place you all enjoy xx

  5. The chocolate-caramel tart really looks wonderful!

  6. What a great place! Melbourne has always delivered excellent cafes and veggie food, but some of your recent reviews make me think it is reaching new heights.

  7. I love the sound of this place! Anywhere that serves good, savory vegetarian tarts is a place I want to visit.

  8. i adore the crockery and attention to detail, just divine! It is harder to get second hand goods here where I live, they are seldomly sold in charity shops (they only sell clothing and mostly children's clothing). You have to go to a flea market which takes a bit more planning.

  9. Looks like a great place. I can never pass up on dessert ;p


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