With multi-national chains, click-to-buy online outlets and extortionate rent prices making it increasingly difficult for independent inner city businesses to break even, Rathdowne Street’s St Clements Grocers is a delightful specimen of what is fast becoming a dying breed. Stocked daily with fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers, herbs, local baked goods and an assortment of condiments and dressings, its tiny open-fronted store is the perfect spot to pick up the foundations for a home-cooked meal.
Co-owned by the team behind Gerald’s Bar, which is conveniently located next door, St Clements boasts a menagerie of locally sourced produce. The shelves are packed with wine boxes chockfull of sprouting greens, root vegetables, vine-grown delicacies and ripened fruits, each embellished with hand-scripted pricing. Loaves are supplied by Carlton’s Baker D. Chirico, traditional American style bagels by Elsternwick’s Five & Dime Bagel Co., and imported pastas and tinned fish no doubt from one of Lygon Street’s neighbouring delis.
Not sure where to start? If you haven’t arrived with a shopping list, we would recommend checking out the use-on-the-day discounted produce on the front counter, then leafing through one of the provided cookbooks on the back shelves for some recipe inspiration. Alternatively ask the friendly and well-informed staff for advice – they may have some treats tucked away in the hidden cool room that will complement whatever it is you already have in your basket.
St Clements’ specialist knowledge and genuine passion for the customers who browse its aisles sets it well and truly apart from today’s identikit food giants. Even if you aren’t a local, it’s worth dropping in for a poignant reminder of why supporting the little guys matters. Oh, and pick us up a bunch of daffodils while you’re there.
St Clements Green Grocer
384 Rathdowne St, Carlton North
(03) 9347 8336
Mon – Sat / 8am – 7pm
Sun / 9am – 5pm