A chef, a cafe veteran and an accountant walk into an old corner store – no, this isn’t the start of a joke; it’s the start of one of the Bellarine Peninsula’s most exciting cafes.
Samuel Evans, Benjamin O’Halloran and Adrien Augert worked together for years, quietly harbouring a dream to open a place of their own. When an old general store with a great backbone and plenty of character became available in Ocean Grove, the trio realised that this was an unmissable opportunity. This is a first for Sam and Ben, while Adrien is a welcomed hospitality expert having previously opened There There and Captain Bar.
Growing up in the area, Ben regularly visited the general store with his Great Uncle Jack to be treated to sweets and Mars Bars. When the boys discovered that the owner at the time was also called Jack the coincidence was too great to ignore; they named the venue in honour of the two old men who had crossed paths so many times over the years.
The young and energetic group were inspired by Melbourne’s cafe and bar scene and wanted to bring a little bit of that to the coast, with their own unique twist. Together they have created a friendly and relaxed atmosphere that is perfect for a coffee date, a sit-down meal or an afternoon drink.
Head Chef, Julian Nuttall, has not only worked all over Australia but he spent plenty of time working throughout Asia too, experience that shines through the considered menu.
You’ll wake up happy knowing that ricotta hotcakes are waiting for you at Uncle Jack’s, but if you’re after something a little healthier why not sample the quinoa pudding with chia seeds, plenty of vanilla, berries and almonds. Kick yourself into gear with a smooth and strong macchiato from Five Senses coffee.
Lunch calls for a soba noodle salad with pickled veg and wakame topped with ginger and sesame dressing; or go all out with a bang bang chicken salad with vermicelli and sesame chill dressing.
The venue transforms seamlessly from day to night. When the sun is shining, white subway tiles and large windows are the perfect backdrop for a brightly lit space. And as the sun goes down you’ll feel cosy with wooden tables and a fireplace from the original building. The weatherboard exterior and stained-glass windows complete the iconic, heritage listed space.
When the sun has well and truly set you’ll be treated to a selection of dishes that pack a punch in terms of flavour. Smaller plates include Mexican–style corn complete with lime, coriander and shavings of pecorino. A standout on the menu is the grilled kaffir lime leaf chicken that pairs perfectly with the Asian slaw and nashi pear. After a spicy meal, refresh your palate with one of the craft beers on offer, or a drop from the selection of local wines and creative cocktails available.
Never has the combination of modern Australian cuisine and heritage listed architecture felt so right. Uncle Jack’s is the perfect place to enjoy a bite to eat or a casual drink with friends and family.
You can read all about these fantastic venues and much more in Smudge Publishing Flavours of Victoria, out now. Available from smudgeeats.com.au, the featured venues and all good bookshops.
Provided by Smudge Publishing.
Photo by Bianca White
Where: 2/82 The Terrace, Ocean Grove
Ph: 03 5256 3735