Shop 1, 253 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Open: Mon-Fri, 7am-late; Sat, 7am-6pm
Journal has been around since 2004 and it's still as great as the day it opened.
Located next to the city library, in the Centre for Adult Education campus in Flinders Lane, Journal fits the part with its private club style interior, large communal tables and shelves full of national geographic magazines, antique looking tomes, design rags and newspapers.
Mosaic tiles fill the huge marble counter, giving the art deco space some colour, while huge windows facing out to the Laneway stream in light.
Journal operates on its tried and tested menu bolstered by daily specials consisting of a soup and a couple of hot dishes. Varying salads including a tasty bean and tuna or noodle are great in warmer weather.
A friend adores the crusty continental bread rolls with combinations of different cheeses and meats. It's a DIY mix and match affair. For me the bruschetta is a must - try the avocodo and lemon or pumpkin and fetta.
On my last visit I enjoyed an old fashioned potato and leek soup. It came with beautiful thick and filling sour dough, splattered with fresh, olive oil.
Con Christopoulos (Degraves, European, Supper Club, Commercial Bakery) is behind this now established city icon.
Few other venus have you happily perched on a stool at Journal's window bar shoulder to shoulder with strangers. Or squeezing at a corner of the shared tables. But getting cosy with strangers is worth it to enjoy the magic of simple food done beautifully at Journal.
In the evening antipasto and wine by the glass transforms the space into groovy wine bar.
Friendly and competent staff including Journal's lovable host and Christopolous' business partner John Vakalis who's always full of smiles and "hellos" adds to its charm.
Being too popular is probably Journal's only flaw. It's much harder to get a seat these days. And by writing this blog I'm probably not helping the cause.
Portuguese tarts and other quality pastries are a good way to end a meal at Journal. Coffee is also taken seriously and it's spot on.
Every visit to Journal is a joy.