Salt-and-pepper squid with Japanese rice seasoning. Fried chicken burgers punched up with the potent Korean chilli sauce, ssam jang. Ice-cream sandwiches made with Chicho Gelato and Bare Baker biscuits. Single-origin coffee. University eating and drinking options have come a long way.

Grindhouse Cafe is no garden-variety university cafe. Sure, it’s at Edith Cowan University’s Mt Lawley campus (non-students: the university’s Bradford Street public car park is your nearest parking option). Its cabinets might be filled with sandwiches, salads and other ready-to-go meals, plus most of its customers wear backpacks, but once inside, it’s clear you’re not in (the University of) Kansas anymore.

Owner Alicia Mulé has given the place (previously Aroma Cafe) a serious makeover. Colourful wall murals contrast with the glossy concrete floor. Pendant lights hang overhead. White tiles frame the bustling open kitchen. You could transplant the cafe into the middle of Beaufort Street and people would think nothing of it, which is exactly what Mulé is after.

“We don’t want students to have to lower their expectations because they’re on a university campus,” she says. “They should get really high-quality food and coffee, and it should be within a decent price range. We’ve tried to keep it low by doing and making everything ourselves.”

Considering the venue belongs to a family of Sicilian hospitality veterans, coffee is something of a big deal. Mulé’s brothers, Adrian and David Mulé, are in charge of roasting the beans. Their interest in working with small parcels of coffee means the blends at Grindhouse change regularly.

The thrilling food, meanwhile, is the work of Jacob D’Vauz, one of the city’s most exciting cooking talents, and a product of the kitchens at Rockpool, The Trustee and Uncle Joe’s Mess Hall. While bucatini and ciabatta with braised white beans reflect the cafe’s former Italian bent, Asian influences dominate and make for a menu that appeals beyond ECU’s student body.

Grindhouse Cafe
Building 3, ECU Mount Lawley, 2 Bradford Street, Mount Lawley
(08) 9371 6886

Mon to Fri 7am–7pm
(open Saturdays from March 19)