Matt Wilkinson's Pope Joan cafe finds permanent home

One year after Matt Wilkinson’s beloved Brunswick East cafe Pope Joan shut it doors, it has now found a new permanent home in Melbourne’s CBD.

The cafe shut in May 2018 after eight years when the site was bought by property developers and the venue bulldozed.

In February this year, Wilkinson resurrected Joan for a summer pop-up in the site of then recently closed cocktail bar and supper club Mayfair in the driveway of the Sofitel on Collins Street.

The pop-up proved successful enough to keep it going for the foreseeable future.

“I am insanely excited. It’s a dream come true to re-open Pope Joan, I’ve missed her,” says chef Matt Wilkinson. “I’ve been really overwhelmed by the response from the public, and I’m so stoked that we can keep the doors open permanently.”

The menu will keep the same favourites from the north side cafe, alongside new additions by Wilkinson and head chef Jake McWilliams.

Open from Monday to Friday only from 7am to 9pm, breakfast will include stalwarts like the rice pudding with strawberries; baked beans; and boiled egg and soldiers, plus newcomers fried eggs, hummus and pickled red kraut (which chef Victor Liong hailed as his favourite breakfast in the city); sardines, wild greens and fennel on toast; and devilled eggs with bacon.

Pope Joan’s famed sandwiches, including the Cornish (Milawa free range chicken and jalapeño roll); the Pope Joan (free range bacon and egg roll, brown sauce); and the Reuben (Warialda Belted Galloway beef pastrami, smoked mozzarella and red kraut) will be available from 11am through to dinner service.

New lunch and dinner small dishes have beed added, like leeks, hazelnut and white onion; whipped cheese curds, pickled kohlrabi and grilled bread; and cuttlefish cooked over coals with harissa and almonds. More substantial plates include gnocchi with parsnips, Jerusalem artichoke and taleggio; and local mussels with smoked tomato romesco and aioli.

Touting Four Pillars Gin from his new post as culinary director, Wilkinson has also put gin Martinis, G&Ts, and salt and Four Pillars Gin vinegar crisps on the menu.

Pope Joan is now open at 45 Collins Street Melbourne VIC (Sofitel driveway).

Photography: Annika Kafcaloudis.