“Hipster”. “Very Melbourne”. These phrases are bandied about a lot these days when people describe the raft of trendy new left-of-centre bars and eateries that have opened up around town. If you were looking for a textbook definition of either then a café selling only toasted sandwiches and coffee located down a shifty alleyway in the CBD and puntastically named after an iconic rapper would pretty much be it. Whatever generalities you choose to describe it, Toastface Grillah is a fresh and funky addition to the downtown cafe scene.
In a world where you’re often spoilt for choice when dining out, it’s refreshing to find a place that has the courage to do something different, and do it with a smile and a tongue firmly wedged in its cheek. In addition to one of their range of interesting toasties you can have either a coffee, tea or a soft drink and that’s it. While they’ve managed to sneak their way into pretty much every café the city wide (including McDonald’s now), you’ll not find a macaroon anywhere in sight either. Thank the lord! That’s not to say there’s nothing to satisfy any post-toastie sugar cravings you might have, as for 20c you can have yourself a gingernut or milk arrowroot biscuit to go with your coffee, or if you’re feeling lavish like I was, lash out 40c for a Monte Carlo (which we all know is the king of biscuits and thus well worth the 100% extra in cost).
Taking a seat in the little courtyard seating area, the three of us managed to work our way through the Danny Zuccho with Brie cheese, zucchini and prosciutto ($8), the Apple & Gouda with green apple, gouda cheese and onion ($8), the Brie & Jam with Brie cheese, jam and mozzarella, the Pear Grillz with blue cheese, pear and lime chutney on cinnamon fruit bread ($8) and the Chilli Cheese with cheddar cheese, smoked paprika and chilli flakes on top ($8). All were really good, with the standouts being the sweet, sticky meltyness of the Brie & Jam and the combination of ingredients in the Pear Grillz that was nothing short of toasted sandwich genius. The coffee was decent too and also reasonably priced. Nice enough at this time of year, the appeal of comfort food like warm toasted sandwiches and hot coffee will only increase as we head into winter and the mercury continues to dip. Also, I quite like the fact that all of the sandwiches come on bog-standard sliced white bread. There’s no artisanal baked goods, no choice of seven different loaves, which is quite fitting really as I can’t imagine Old Dirty Bastard, RZA, GZA, or any of the Wu Tang boys for that matter, carefully deliberating as to whether to go for the farmhouse multigrain rye or the buckwheat sourdough.
So if you’re in town on a weekday (it’s unfortunately closed on the weekend) and feel like some no frills comfort food with a side order of hipster-style cheeky humour and an urban hip-hop edge then Toastface Grillah is just the ticket. Do be prepared to wait a bit though, as word has got out and during the lunch rush their poor solitary sandwich grill can take up to 20 mins to get your order out to you. As for me, any place that combines three of my greatest loves – toasted sandwiches, old school hip-hop and puns – is well worth the wait. Click here to check out their website for a full menu and directions on how to find them.