First of all, I apologise for the lack of action since the last Cafe Jerk post. Some have told me that since April 14 an Independence Day sized shadow has descended upon the Melbourne cafe scene, accompanied by a smaller but no less sinister shadow of an evil Vice President of the United States, also from the aforementioned mid 90′s movie.
And I appreciate it, I really do. That’s why I’m back with something a little special for you, a cafe in the MELBOURNE CBD. Something so magical that it demands capital letters, bold font AND a bold full-stop. But nothing more.
That’s right, the big smoke. The big banana. The big ole concrete jungle in the sky. I’ll stop. None of this inner-north bullshit today. Today I’m taking you to the very building where the founder of our fair city, the distinguished Jaxxon Batman decided to legally change his name to John, a name more in keeping with the early 1800s and less in keeping with a competitor from the Crusty Demons of Dirt.
And who’s gonna stop him? YOU? Don’t make me laugh. lol. He’s the goddamn founder of this city AND he’s related to Batman.
Turns out that John Batman was so happy with his new boring name that he threw his journal on the ground and shouted “That was Jaxxon’s journal! Johns don’t have journals, they have clipboards, and handsome wives!”.
So yeah that’s probably the origin of the name of the cafe, not to mention the origins of John’s first clipboard and homely wife.
Journal sits on the doorstep of both the City Library and the Centre for Adult Education – or the Centre For Tired Of Life Baby Boomers Learning French Because France Is Such A Nightmare To Travel To Because No One Speaks English Because Tourists Never Go There And Because French People Love Tourists Who Believe They’re Fluent After An 8-week Part-Time Course – and therefore it’s literary cafe brand is a perfect fit. It is a deliciously fit-out cafe/restaurant with lots of wooden finishes (whatever the hell that means) and slightly fewer non-wood finishes. It has a real class about it that many CBD cafes lack. If you can find a cafe in the CBD whose name doesn’t contain its street number, you know its a place to take that expensive escort for a taste of sophistication.
The crowd is what you’d expect at a cafe who grew up around the dewey decimal system. Journal enjoys a healthy mix of the aforementioned Q & A watching fluro-spectacled Epicure readers butchering the French language and groups of Q & A watching bright young things with their MacBook Pros changing the world one uni practice assignment at a time. But they all watch Q & A, you can bet your sweet bippy on that. How do I know this? Journal has two enormous communal tables in the centre of the room and I can’t count the number of times I have overheard young voices crackle with excitement when talking about their “next Instagram” or their “zine based on a novella”.
That being said, it is actually quite inspiring sitting next to people who are in the process of improving themselves and the world. I enjoy hijacking the hopeful energy diffused around the room and deploying it in conversations throughout the day to give the impression I am more entrepreneurial than I am. This energy illuminates my essence like a halo until I reach the office the next morning, at which point it is smothered by the dead and dying dreams of my older colleagues like a security blanket on Simpson’s daredevil Lance Murdoch.
Journal does the simply things really, really well. I’ve already told you about the simple and sophisticated fit out. It’s a beautiful motherflippin cafe/restaurant. Their rolls/baguettes are so simply outstanding that afterwards you will run to the nearest shit cafe and throw the paninis and focaccias on the floor, and then apologise profusely and compensate the owner for loss of inventory. In fact my regular dining partner, Eric the Discerning Llama with 90s Hair decided to do that very thing after trying a Capocollo and Fontina baguette from Journal recently.
I have never seen a Llama move with such purpose and such hatred. When I finally caught up to him Degraves Street was a bomb site, with paninis getting soggier by the second on the very wet, very Melbourne pavement. Cafe owners had their heads in their hands or they were gesticulating wildly like in the movies when the star knocks over their stack of oranges while being chased.
The rolls really are the standout here, in my opinion. They have little menus on the tables which list about 4 meats and 4 cheeses. What you do is pick one meat and one cheese and they put it in a baguette with a couple of slices of fresh tomato and cracked pepper. And maybe some basil if the girl behind the counter thinks you’re a big spunk. You can have it hot or cold. If you’rea vego or vego (the latter is short for vegan) then just don’t order the meat. And if you’re lactose intolerant then don’t order the cheese. It does seem pretty strong that you don’t tolerate cheese though. At least vegetarians tolerate meat, the least you guys can tolerate cheese.
From memory, the choices are Prosciutto, Capocollo, Mortadella and something else, and the cheeses are Pecorino, Fontina, Bocconcini and Casalinga (upon closer inspection the Casalinga could be cheese or meat). The tomato and pepper really are the perfect partners for these meat and cheese combination. Really fresh, quality ingredients to. It’s a sign of AWESOME to back yourself and make something so simple, and to be honest I feel that more and more places around Melbourne are heading in this direction, which is a good thing. But Journal has been doing it for ages. So kudos, Journal.
I decided to try one of the specials recently, the lamb tagine. It was a cold wintry night and a tagine is the shit when it’s cold outside. So that’s why I ordered it ok? Jesus back off. Here is a picture of it, to give you a chance to calm down a bit.
The meat was really tender and very
Unfortunately, I feel that overall it was fairly bland. It was nice and all, but I think it needed a bit more spice and a few more sultanas to give it a bit of a sweetie tang. Their drinks menu seems sufficient. But they always do to me.
Oh yeah I had some of their chocolate mud cake the other day and it was so delicious that I didn’t take a photo of it. It was dense. And dense is good in a mud cake isn’t it. The true sign of a good mud cake is whether you can use it as a pillow without it a) leaving a mark on either your face or your bed, and b) losing it’s shape. If you can fall asleep on mud cake you have serious mental issues and you have a serious mud cake.
You guys should all go to Journal because it’s ridiculously good. Some say if you take enough drugs you can still see the ghost of young Jaxxon Batman, his ugly wife and his superb clipboard behind the counter.