Back to breakfast for part 5 of our pre-Easter Yarra Valley trip – this time we head to The General Food Store, an unassuming little cafe in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it group of shops in Emerald, a small town 44km south-east of Melbourne in the Dandenong Ranges. It’s a great example of the kind of place you can find if you do your research.

As the blurb on their website will tell you, The General Food Store has been open since 2011 and is the creation of chef Paul Douglas and his graphic designer wife Belinda, and features a menu that uses seasonal ingredients, mainly sourced from Victorian food regions.

Starting with coffee, of course, from Melbourne roaster Coffee Supreme. This was very nice indeed, and a good start to the day.

My cappuccino came with lots of chocolate (unlike some places I could mention).

They have a new menu every month – here’s the April one. As you can see there’s a sense of humour at play here to go with the interesting menu items.

The General Food Store is open from 7:30am to 4pm Monday to Saturday, and 8am to 4pm on Sunday.

Nearly choosing “The Gringo” (I’m a sucker for corn bread), I eventually decided on the “To Be Sure²” with pork belly, fried soda bread, roasted onion & tomato, house made bbq sauce and poached eggs ($21). This was a really interesting dish, especially for breakfast. The eggs were perfect, the pork belly was soft and flavorsome, and even the roasted tomato & onion worked well in combination with everything else. The best bits for me were the soda bread and bbq sauce – I could have eaten a plate of just these!

This is the kind of dish you don’t see in Perth. I’m not sure why it’s “squared”, by the way – the shape of the soda bread perhaps? I decided it would be safer not to ask.

Renay chose the “Go Figure” – grilled figs, chilled vanilla custard, nut crumble & a toasted croissant ($15) which she absolutely loved. Again, it was an unusual combination but one that worked really well and made great use of quality ingredients.

Something we saw quite a lot in Melbourne – and increasingly in Perth – was a selection of sweet treats at the counter to tempt you on the way out.

The General Food Store is an intriguing place – it appears to be in the middle of nowhere, but there was no shortage of customers, the food was outstanding and the menu was more interesting than most. We had to travel about 40 minutes from where we were staying in the Yarra Valley to get there, but that’s what holidays are for and this breakfast was one of the food-highlights of our trip.

If you’re in the vicinity – or perhaps even if you’re not – The General Food Store is worth a visit. Recommended.