Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Nuevo37 - A Questionable Formula

After watching Clint Eastwood speak at the Republican National Convention, I was driven to drink, well at least that is what I am claiming. Afternoon beer in the sun at World Bar got a bit out of control. Seven... maybe eight pints later of Kosciuszko Pale Ale, a rather poor "Wagyu" hamburger led me to entertain at my unit, drink a fair amount of Graeme Miller's Dixons Creek Estate 2007 Quatrain and make a noble attempt at cooking. The levity distracted me from finishing this post, which I am sure that everyone is just sitting on the edge of their seat for.

Last night the hatted restaurants and individual winners were announced for the forthcoming Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide 2013 at The Establishment in Sydney. The complete list of winners can be found here. If you are looking for the complete list of 2013 winners for The Age Good Food Guide 2013, it can be found here.

There are two restaurants at the Hilton South Wharf next to the Convention Centre. The "Modern Australian" themed eatery is called Nuevo37. Things have changed a bit since their Spanish executive chef Ramon Freixa left and was replaced by Philippe Perrey, but that was a few years ago, and I really can not reference any remarkable difference. I stayed at the Hilton South Wharf on and off since it was built before moving to Melbourne so I can safely say that I have had decent experiences in their facilities consistently.

I have always enjoyed the fit out of this restaurant, that and the neighbouring tapas restaurant, Sotano. They are joined by a long hotel bar and relaxing lounge where you can enjoy friendly and efficient table service from the Hilton floor staff. Strangely I found myself in this bar for ten hours on Anzac day not only watching the mighty Magpies win in a thriller but also enjoying the hospitality, pints of beer and ultimately I was scared sober by the large bill. It is pretty amazing how much beer one can drink when it is brought to you over ten hours how much of a bill you can rack up between two people.

My recent trip to Nuevo37 nearly went to plan. I eluded in other blog posts that my ordering style is a bit erratic and unconventional because when I arrive at restaurants, it is usually to meet mates or do some business, so I tend to talk a fair amount after I sit down. This means that I do not review the menu in a timely manner and frequently only know that I want to start with sparking water. As this restaurant is attached to the hotel, there is a formula for service; not one that I intentionally attempt to disrupt, but unintentionally allow to demonstrate the strengths of the restaurant.

The water came out. The wine then came out. The server then asked if we were ready to order. I said "no" as I hadn't even looked at the menu as I was feeling quite loquacious that day. About fifteen minutes later the server returned after I made eye contact and took my order - pork belly to start. She then asked what we wanted for our mains. As I said the main should be matched with a different wine and frankly I hadn't reviewed the short list of mains either, I asked her to return later.

The pork belly was cooked a bit more than it should have been. It was matched with a mango salad. It tasted fine, but I didn't think they complemented one another well.

I made eye contact with the server again and she came to take our order for the mains and of course more wine. She then asked if we would like dessert. Given we were ordering the mains, I was a bit shocked but like a robot pre-programmed, I spewed out the obvious fact that we will have to consider the dessert option later and in reality, I hadn't reviewed the short list. The server was sticking to the robotic formula for service.

My main came out in a timely manner. It was the chicken and chorizo paella. It seemed like the best option since I did not want to choose anything from the grill and knowing there was some sort of infused sort of service going on between neighbouring Sotano and Nuevo37, I thought it was a safe option. I wasn't disappointed because my standard was not set high but I found it to be tasty. A bit salty but still tasty.

The same server returned to ask us if we wanted dessert again, but we declined as conversation was proving to be our dessert. Another member of staff then quizzed us if we wanted dessert but we declined. Our water glasses were noticeably empty and our bottle of water had also been vanquished but we were never asked if we wanted another expensive bottle of rehydrating liquid. After my salt intake for the day, I was thirsty and would have happily have paid the equivalent of a new kidney for another bottle of water but instead we finished off the wine and made our exit. I always find it interesting when the bottle of water is ignored especially since they are such money-makers for the restaurant.

Hospitality at hotel restaurants seems to always operate to a sort of formula. The concept of "relaxing lunch" or being able to take verbal cues do not always compute. It is a relaxing restaurant though to visit. I like the fact that you are not crammed into a corner with all of the other guests and you do not hear what others are talking about. Previously I mentioned the fit out and that is the draw card, along with the wine on display, views of South Wharf, high ceilings and of course the formula for service if you want to adhere to it.

Link to review
2 Convention Centre Place  South Wharf VIC 3006
(03) 9027 2000

My Rating: 12.5/20
Service: 2.5/5
Ambiance: 4/5
Quality: 3/5
Value For Money: 3/5
Comment: Great fit out

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

At the time of this post, only 58% of the reviewers on Urbanspoon like Nuevo37. Perhaps they are expecting too much.

Nuevo 37 on Urbanspoon