Friday, 14 September 2012

Ludlow Bar & Dining Room - Bring Me Back

According to the Urban Dictionary, "Ludlow" is defined as "a small town in Massachusetts (USA) where pot heads roam the streets and all (that) people care about (are) soccer and Portugal." There are more definitions but this one is the most tame.

Fortunately for the majority of the readership of this blog, we have the pleasure of living in Australia and if you visit the Ludlow Bar & Dining in Southbank, you will find professionals, both those who work at the place and also most that frequent it roaming the restaurant where they care about providing excellent service and encouraging good times by providing quality food, drink and service. It is certainly a stark contrast from what is happening in the city of Ludlow, which I suppose is fortunate for all of us.

Of all of the restaurants on the Southbank Promenade between St Kilda Road and Freshwater Place, I was originally tempted to venture into Ludlow because I thought the fit-out was the most attractive. Like with the Izakaya Den, whenever I walk past it just appears clean which I attribute to the good use of dark colours and light. Everything is always in its proper place. When you combine the two, the place looks sleek and stands out.

My recent trip to Ludlow first took me into the entrance to the bar after deciding that it was far too busy at the Meat & Wine Co to be bothered with waiting for a table. We were looking for something more "cheap and cheerful" which is amusing when you think that we would choose either the Meat & Wine Co or even Ludlow, but given it was really cold outside, I wanted to retreat somewhere I knew was comfortable and calm. We were not disappointed after being escorted from the bar to our table in the dining room near the fireplace.

After having a few beers at the Prince of Wales Hotel earlier, I was keen to continue my appreciation of the ales so I ordered a Moo Brew. The server quickly came around with the alcoholic offerings and whilst I relieved my dehydration, she explained the specials. After polishing of the Moo Brew, I ordered another but before she departed, I asked the server's recommendations for food. This was obviously a night where the only choice that I wanted to make was when to retire home. She recommended both the duck liver parfait and the marinated octopus to start, so we followed her down the path of temptation.

Good duck liver parfait will get me terribly excited. What Ian Curley sends out at the European gives me goosebumps and excites me in the same way that say if The Cure announced they were touring Australia again. What Chef Marc Brown offers at Ludlow hits the spot also. Although the dish doesn't include shaved black truffles like what you will find currently at the European, it certainly is good and makes for a great starter. I started to regret disrespecting it with beer though, so I ate it quickly with the hopes that I could hide my guilt.

I tasted the marinated octopus. Normally I remain wary of octopus at restaurants because rarely it is cooked properly but again, the kitchen did not disappoint. It was not "chewy" in the slightest and the citrus marinade really enriched the creature.

After more Moo Brew was brought to the table, the cheerful server recommended the chicken breast that is cooked in clay, with a lyonnaise sauce and also the Western Plains lamb, which can be shared for mains. I choose the chicken wanting to continue to eat outside of my comfort zone. Like with the octopus, I rarely ever order chicken at a restaurant (unless it is at an Indian restaurant) since it is such a staple food and I feel like I can (and do) prepare it at home so often. What was presented was a pleasant surprise though. Between the lyonnaise sauce and the wild mushrooms, the tastes blended together and worked well. Perhaps it was because I was on my tenth Moo Brew by this time but the taste of the dish overwhelmed me and with the fire warming my back, I felt relaxed and satisfied.

I have been in both the restaurant and the bar a few times over the last few months and the service remains consistent on both sides of the wall that divides them. They seem to turn over a fair amount of punters since they are open not only early for breakfast but throughout the day for the other important meals and late for drinks. It is a small menu in comparison to other restaurants but everything that I have had was done well. In fact writing about this has made me hungry.

I am thinking of heading over to Ludlow for the "workers lunch" today, which is a choice of three bar meals and a pint for $20. I have found the service in the bar and outside areas not to be as professional as I have come to expect in the restaurant especially in busy times, but that is not saying that it should be demonised since it gets popular during the lunch rush. So for me it is either the Ludlow special or head over to the Prahan Markets for a salted beef and sauerkraut roll with polish sour plum dough at the new food stall. Perhaps I will just go hassle someone to go out for a drink and have a liquid lunch. The options are endless in this wonderful city and if you do choose to include Ludlow in your plans during the day, you will not be disappointed.

Ludlow Bar & Dining Room, Southbank
Ludlow Bar & Dining Room
Link to review
6 Riverside Quay  Southbank VIC 3006
(03) 9699 1676
My Rating: 14.5/20
Service: 4/5
Ambiance: 4/5
Quality: 3.5/5
Value For Money: 3/5
Comment: Great fit-out, fireplace, river views

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

When I posted this review, only 67% of the reviewers on Urbanspoon liked this place. My thoughts are on the restaurant itself and do not reflect on the quality or service in the bar area, which I believe many of the reviewers are expressing concern over.

Ludlow Bar & Dining Room on Urbanspoon