Mr Price’s Food Store

502 Queensberry St, North Melbourne
Phone: 9326 8062

Last year I was placed in charge of organising the office Christmas lunch. This place was high on the shortlist, because of (and also in spite of) Joyce’s review. Unfortunately, because a few of the ladies in the office have rather specific dietary requirements and preferences, the lack of a menu meant I had to strike it from the list. It took me four months to get around to visiting it myself. It was certainly worth the wait.

From the street, the place looks like more of an antique or curio store than a restaurant…

… and that feel is certainly carried through to the interior. But instead of feeling shabby, the place has a warm, homely feel to it, with mismatched table settings, and interesting items adorning the walls and bookshelves. I’m guessing when it’s busy, these things make for good distractions while waiting for the food?

I was lucky enough to stumble in on a day when it wasn’t too busy – in fact there were only two other tables occupied – and Mr Price (Gary, should you feel informal) was milling around in the kitchen when I entered. He presented me with a hand-written menu – the menu changes each day depending on what produce Mr Price deems fresh and seasonal at the nearby Vic Markets – and I took a seat at a table by the window.

I’ve been on a bit of a soup kick lately, I’m not sure why, because the weather hasn’t really turned autumnal, but nonetheless, I opted for the cauliflower soup. Sound a little boring? That’s because I forgot to mention it was spiced cauliflower soup accented with duck fat. Mmmm, duck fat…. It was served with two chunks of fresh bread, and the salt and pepper which was presented were not touched. Also on offer that day were a couscous with lamb ragout, and a salad of some description with salmon.

The soup was velvety and smooth, the flavour of the cauliflower more highlighted than masked by the subtle use of spices, and the duck fat was present, but not too overpowering.

I’m not averse to dining alone – I often have lunch on my own – but I do get a little bored. Especially on a slow news day, when the ABC news app isn’t delivering interesting stories. This totally wasn’t a problem at Mr Price’s Food Store, as the shelves (and indeed my table) were loaded with interesting books; from best-sellers and Booker prize winners, to the wealth of cookbooks. I took to reading about how to prepare veloute with my soup.

I’ve heard mixed reviews about Mr Price’s Food Store, but I can honestly say I found it one of the most charming restaurants in Melbourne. I’ll definitely be back on a regular basis.

Mr Price’s Food Store is open for lunch Monday to Saturday, from 12pm, and dinners on Friday night. Bookings are advised, and I believe it’s cash only.

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