Pope Joan has changed over the years. Matt Wilkinson’s masterpiece started as a humble breakfast spot before doubling in size with a bar, adding a deli soon after, and doing lunch and dinner too.
I’ve noticed that when you get to the Pope after midday there can be a little confusion given the great selection of non-breakfast dishes. Being handed a wine list as you ask for a coffee and hearing amazing sounding specials when you feel like bacon and eggs is a little odd. Today we have actually come for lunch, but are here before we have started some breakfasts!
It is intentional. I feel like coffee and wine, mains and dessert! Devastation at the latest instalment of the Black Pudding based dish being sold out leads to a nice surprise with the Cornish chicken sandwich proving another fantastic find. The stuffing used gives it a certain luxury and the jalepinos are not overpowering at all.
Catherine opts for the Cuban which is their version of a pulled pork roll. It is spicy like it should be and full of flavour. The pulled pork is just special. It’s something we all know ridiculously well. It’s on every second menu in Melbourne and we keep going back. But trust me, Pope Joan’s is special.
The Heathcote rose we are drinking, using Nebbiolo grapes, is particularly good for washing down anything. It follows my long black, as always nicely made, and Catherine’s sparkling apple from Mornington producer Mock.
This cafe provides a unique experience. There is nowhere else that I feel so utterly compelled to order the rice pudding, or doughnuts to finish. Or the homemade ginger bread, or a macaron! Today it’s the doughnut with jam and cream. It never gets boring having fried dough with sugar, jam and cream. The main difference here is the quite tart jam which means you are having sugar overload without necessarily tasting it.
Whether you are there early or late there is great food and drink here. The staff are always happy and seem to understand they are working in a great place that is cutting edge. Brunswick East is extremely lucky to have Pope Joan to call its own.