My initial review of the then new Johnston St Food Store brought on an astroturfing attack and, while I have no way of knowing whether the PR retard involved had anything to do with the business, I was discouraged and it has taken me some time to return. But the coffee was seriously good, and I wanted to try the food, so I stopped in for lunch earlier this week.
On my first visit I’d learned that smoked salmon and trout were going to be a house specialty, so it was disappointing to find that the smoked trout salad they previously had was not available, though there was a smoked salmon sandwich.
I chose a chicken schnitzel and coleslaw sandwich (above), while my friend chose the vegie focaccia (below), and we enjoyed them both. My friend first asked if she could have a made to order sandwich and was told no, the sandwiches are brought in. It’s the kind of place where you would expect the food to be homemade, but it’s not.
I followed this with an excellent long macchiato and the pear, pistachio and rose water cake (below). I found the cake to be rather dry, which suggests it wasn’t particularly fresh (rather like Hookturn‘s experience with the pastries last month).
The small range of fresh produce and preserves for sale seem more decorative than goods you would casually drop in to buy. Take the Meredith Dairy’s marinated goats cheese (325g jar), which can be bought at three shops on Johnston St. You’ll find it at Coles for about $11.99. Prudent local shoppers will know you can get it at Casa Iberica for $9.99. How many people will pay $16.50 for it at the Johnston St Food Store?
Casa Iberica is only a few minutes away and their handmade to order rolls and focaccias are amazing. Even closer are fantastic Smith St venues like Kerynia, Siyia, Provenance and Bebida, and Felice’s lovely pizzas and focaccias are nearby on Greeves St.
That’s a lot of competition in a small area. At the moment the Johnston St Food Store competes well on coffee but not on food or value for money. I have to agree with Jess Ho that the Johnston St Food Store is somewhat confused. It has the appearance of high quality, with high prices to match, but apart from the coffee the reality doesn’t match the image and for that reason it’s not entirely satisfying.