Pope Joan

January 29, 2012

77-79 Nicholson Street, Brunswick East

Pope Joan has been on my radar for quite some time now, so much so that eating here had become one of my top priorities (officially noted as such by being highlighted yellow and made two font sizes larger in my monster excel spreadsheet that lists all the places I want to visit/eat at). It’s also reasonably well located given where I live, so it’s quite surprising I haven’t been up for a visit before.

Inside is spacious and light-filled.  I liked the humble wooden furniture and the giant brass lampshade hanging in the centre of the ceiling. I also spent quite some time admiring their moose head, an eco-friendly and scent-less alternative to the real thing.

The rest of the time I spent chatting with S, a good friend of mine who had been traveling around South America for the better part of a year, lucky bastard. Spanish nearly perfect (S spent some time studying in Chile, where the classes are, obviously, in Spanish), he is semi-loathing, semi-loving getting back into his science degree. I’m just loving the fact that he’s back in the country and available for coffee catch ups!

I did notice on their breakfast menu that they offer Bloody Marys (ca-ching!), but I wasn’t in the need for a pick-me-up of that magnitude so decided on a coffee instead. The coffees at Pope Joan are, in Spanish-speaking Dora the Explorer’s words, muy bien excelente! A strong caramel taste that’s smooth on the tongue.

To eat, S ordered a serve of poached eggs with smashed avo, feta and dukka, offering as an explanation, “I don’t think there’s been a day this past year that I haven’t eaten avocado, I just love it”. My kinda guy.

While he thought the avocado was a little too creamy and would have preferred a more varied texture and a touch of lemon, the eggs were perfectly runny and the feta was nice.

I had the ‘Cuban’ (pulled pork, pickles n’ cheese) and holy hell was it good! I really am loving how popular pulled pork is in Melbourne right now – every time I eat it, it’s just brilliant. This sandwich had a spicy sour tang from the pickles and mustard, and some mayo and capsicum relish jazzed things up even further. Next time I may get the ‘Cornish’, Milawa chicken, stuffing and the unexpected guest at the party, jalapenos.

Time for sweeties, perchance?

Though tempted by a delicious looking poached fruit sponge cake (either raspberries or rhubarb, I couldn’t tell), I decided on carrot cake, feeling in the mood for something slightly less cloyingly sweet. (Referring to the picture above, does anyone else think $3.00 for a macaron is slightly extortionate?)

I cannot, then, fully convey my disappointment at finding upon first bite that Pope Joan’s carrot cake was unimpressive. While the cake itself was alright (though I would have preferred less of a sticky texture), the icing was far too cheesy-sour for my liking. I ended up scraping off the icing and just eating the cake.

In contrast, S’s rice pudding with mango and rose geranium was a complete success. I am not a fan of rice pudding (childhood memories of being chased around by relatives trying to force the stuff down my throat come to mind), but even I will admit that this was really nice. It had a lovely texture and delicate flavour.

In all, though some dishes seem a little hit-and-miss, I had a very pleasant experience at Pope Joan and one I’d like to repeat, should I be up that end of Nicholson Street again!

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Filed under: Brunch, Brunswick East, Coffee