Monday, 30 July 2012

Enter Bohemian, Exit Common Man

For most the South Wharf dining precinct resembles the island from Lost. Many do not know there are a group of restaurants hidden on the wharf next to the Hilton and the ANL building just south of the convention centre. Like with the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 who left Sydney expecting to land safely in Los Angeles, I walked to South Wharf and ended up at Common Man not knowing what fate had in store for me.

The Common Man is a relaxed venue. Perhaps too relaxed when it comes to service. Upon arrival we were greeted with a smile by the hostess and we took a seat at a table near a window. The hostess said that she would be back with menus and to clean the dirty table. At this moment the classic Oasis ballad "Champagne Supernova" commenced playing. Over the next seven minutes and twenty-seven seconds, which is the total playing time for this track, I watched the clouds and rain part in the Melbourne sky and sun shine down on the wharf. Seeing the light, I looked over at the hostess who was visiting a table near me for the third time as the patron was making a fuss about his hamburger or something. It had been eight minutes and she did not return with menus or to clean the table so we decided to express our displeasure by leaving. This is not the first time something queer has taken place at the Common Man as it was my third visit. On Sunday's they have a Bloody Mary special that is advertised on their blackboard. Whilst dining on an average pizza on my last visit they went out of the way to change the price of the Bloody Mary on that board from $8 to $9 but never communicated the price change to me. I was the only one in the venue enjoying one at the time. When the bill came, they charged me $10. Bizarre.

After walking out of Common Man, we went next door to Bohemian. We were promptly seated at a table near a window and provided with menus and a wine list. In my possession I had a voucher for a free drink. This voucher was a few months old and were originally given out by hired hands outside of the convention centre with the hope of drawing some foot traffic to South Wharf. The host happily honoured the voucher and instead of bringing one pot of James Squire Amber Ale which is what the voucher entitled me to, he brought two which was very kind of him and the restaurant. Tapas and wine were then ordered.

Much like how fate brought me to this restaurant, the host returned at one point to advise that the bottle of wine that I ordered was not in stock and he recommended a bottle of Paco Garcia "Seis" as a replacement. It was also cheaper as an aside. This 100% Tempranillo is one of the best wines that I have had in months and at around $35 from this restaurant is an awesome bargain. Despite having a stuffed up nose, I noticed a strong aroma of strawberries and it subsequently went down my gullet easily. I later did some research on this wine. The "Seis" means "six" as a literal translation but as far as this wine goes, it means six months' aging in oak which is something the winemaker is not allowed to put on the back label as per the Regulatory Council.

The flavour was just not limited to the wine. After I was done raving about the smell and taste of the Tempranillo, the first round of tapas that we ordered was delivered. Although I enjoyed every dish, the stand-out was the morsels of quail which you eat off of a single rib bone. Other highlights for me was the chorizo and the patatas bravas which are $6 per dish and definitely worth adding to the tapas experience.

I am grateful to the lazy service at Common Man which ultimately led me to have a great dining experience at Bohemian where I not only found very tasty tapas and attentive service but the fact that I found a bottle of spectacular wine that I now want to source and add to my personal collection. I now must wonder what other secrets will be discovered in the South Wharf precinct in the future.

Bohemian, South Wharf
Link to review
35 Dukes Walk  South Wharf VIC 3006
(03) 9682 0566
My Rating: 13.5/20
Service: 4/5
Ambiance: 3/5
Quality: 3.5/5
Value For Money: 3/5
Comment: Excellent tapas and wine list

Twitter: @epicurean3006
e-mail: epicureanofsouthbank (at) gmail (dot) com

At the time of this writing, 86% of the reviewers on Urbanspoon like this restaurant and I wholeheartedly agree with them.

Bohemian Bar & Restaurant on Urbanspoon