Have you ever tried copy and pasting a word 20 times into Google Translate and making the AI repeat it in different languages? If you haven’t, you might not want to try it as it drove me up the wall when Yuye did that a few weeks ago using the words ‘Pope Joan’. I found it quite hilarious at the start but after a few repeats I just couldn’t handle it any more. Those words were stuck in my head for quite a few days after although I had to thank Yuye as if he didn’t do that, I wouldn’t have chosen Pope Joan to have brunch that day.
For those of you who don’t know, Pope Joan refers to a legendary female Pope who was rumoured to have reigned for a number of years in the Middle Ages. I’m not too sure why this cafe was named after a legendary Pope (perhaps the owner’s name is Joan?) but the food and coffees were so delicious that they might become a legend! Ok, so that was an exaggeration but the food and coffees being good was no lie.
I loved the decor and cute herb and veggie garden interconnecting the Pope and the Bishop of Ostia, a bar that is open between Wednesday and Sunday in the evenings. Bishop of Ostia is the son of the legendary Pope which makes this a parent and child joint venture! It’s a fantastic use of space as even though the bar is not open for business, the space is used to seat the Pope Joan patrons.
I think Pope Joan is my dream cafe. If I ever was to open one, it would be exactly like this, although front of the house I would make a little bit bigger. I really loved the shared veggie garden and I also want my very own bar for Yuye to show off his cocktail making skills.
The veggie garden had all sorts of goodies great for both gawking and using in their dishes.
We were originally seated in the bar area, however, after visiting the garden, I had a sudden urge to move outside. Even though the weather is still a bit chilli, the fresh and crisp air outside was welcomed to accompany our lovely meal.
Service here was impeccable. It’s probably the first time that a waitstaff has actually brought over the whole specials menu rather than telling us to look at the board ourselves. I did not expect that at all. Whenever anything was brought out, it was always served with a smile and we felt welcomed and comfortable throughout the whole meal.
There was no way I would have brunch without ordering a coffee. I got a cappuccino and it was creamy, strong and aromatic. I drank it a bit too quickly and was left wanting more. I did manage to restrain myself as I probably wouldn’t have felt so good having more than 1 cup.
Yuye ordered a latte and Geoff ordered a flat white and both looked beautiful. Geoff actually drank a bit of the flat white before I took the photo so it’s a little less than when it arrived.
The menu here is actually quite refreshing and healthy. I can feel that they try to use the best and freshest ingredients to create beautiful dishes. I decided to order the bacon steak, poached eggs, Branston pickles with chestnuts & smoked maple butter for $19. It wasn’t a terribly filling or heavy dish but was full of flavour. The bacon steak is basically just a thicken piece of bacon, but instead of being oily and unhealthy, it tasted lean and delicious. I have always loved bacon though so this was a treat. It did say ‘eggs’ so I was expecting 2 eggs, but it only came with one so I goes this was the only let down of the dish. For $19, I did expect a tiny bit more food on the plate.
Yuye ordered the confit cocktail potatoes with New Zealand smoked salmon, new season broad beans, buffalo ricotta and garden greens for $19. It sounded like a big dish but in actual fact, it was even smaller than mine. It did taste very delicious though. Yuye and I both loved the broad beans. I usually don’t like beans as much but these were very fresh and wasn’t powdery like they sometimes can be if not cooked well. If you enjoy salads, I’m sure you would have liked this dish.
Geoff ordered the Goulburn River Smoked Trout, Fennel, Capers, Scrambled Eggs & Joan’s Corn Loaf for $19. Geoff said the corn loaf was very delicious and seemed very happy with his dish. I liked the large capers in the smoked trout salad and the presentation was nice as well.
If you feel like something a bit more filling and hearty, there is also the option of ordering the Cassoulet of Chorizo, Smoked Squid, Paquillo Peppers and Lima Beans also for $19. This was quite a large and seemingly filling dish and Y said it was very tasty as well. Although I quite liked the dishes we ordered, I did think for a second that I should have ordered this dish instead. I’m a sucker for these types of baked dishes.
Just when I thought it was the end of the meal, Y and Geoff went ahead and ordered a walnut & carrot cake! It was not too sweet and just the right amount of moistness. It would have gone very well with another cup of coffee.
We did share the cake between four people which was not enough but it left a good craving in my mouth afterwards.
I really enjoyed my meal at Pope Juan. Even though it’s situated on a quieter strip of Nicholson Street, it’s still worth driving up for the great meal we had.
Question time: If you were to own a cafe, what would it be like?
Phone: (03) 9388 8858
77-79 Nicholson St, Brunswick East, VIC 3057