Saturday, 20 October 2012

Meatball & Wine Bar - Interesting Concept

I originally literally stumbled into the Meatball & Wine Bar on Flinders Lane quite by accident after enjoying one of the best meals that I have had since I started writing this blog at Movida. This trip, I purely wanted wine to continue my alcohol-fuelled afternoon of debauchery and when I saw "Wine Bar" I knew that my needs would, or should, be satisfied.

Like a drunken sailor, I was drawn to the songs of the sirens in the establishment peddling a legal vice and I was very intrigued as my eyes inspected the establishment. The wine glasses, napkins and chairs were aligned with precision, which I knew would have been a painstaking task and probably not appreciated by the diners and drinkers who frequented this place earlier for lunch however I found it very pleasing and professional.

Upon entering, we were greeted by many people including the barman and we took a seat at the bar so I could read the wine list, and was surprised because it was such a quick read. As I enjoyed my Shiraz, I bathed in the atmosphere, which I really enjoyed and vowed to return soon.

One cold night a week later, I returned to Meatball & Wine Bar with my learned friend. The place was packed and we were lucky to get a seat near the door. The noise of the patrons normally would not make pleasant conversation a challenge however the restaurant adds music to the ambiance so you must compete with it. It does add to the atmosphere in a way and is not distracting or painful like what you find at Nobu, however when the restaurant is packed, it probably doesn't need to be on so loud but that is just a personal opinion.

I like the concept of meatballs and wine in general. The menu was simple and visually appealing however despite having "perfect" eyesight, I found some parts of it a challenge to read because of what I can assume to be a 6-point font size. The advertised specials were both fun and intriguing at the same time and my interest was piqued when I read that "Guy Grossi's Balls" were one of the specials. Having met Guy once in his restaurant and of course seeing him on Channel 7 from time to time, I was not quite sure that I wanted to associate the restaurant special with what is in his trousers especially since if what was served was especially small or distorted, but it was good fun and what arrived was very tasty and I must admit, looked like a scrotum. I ate Guy Grossi's balls. I never thought I would say that.

It wasn't difficult to keep ordering more meatballs off the menu. The chicken and fish balls were good however one had already fallen apart when it was served. It wasn't a big deal because I still subscribed to the concept of the place and was having fun and could not possibly take a split meatball too seriously.

When people began to depart, we moved tables and got away from the door. One of the staff it would seem finished her shift, left and returned to eat and drink at the bar. I then observed many of the staff take turns eating something at the bar whilst the customers were still enjoying their respective experiences. Although service never suffered per se, I thought it was bold of the management to encourage or support the staff to eat at the bar whilst customers are still in the restaurant. I do not see that happen too often, however when put into perspective, this is a fun and lively venue which should not be constrained to stuffy interpretations of what "should be" done and provided that the customer is taken care of, which we were, should it matter?

I liked the place and the concept. I do look forward to watching their wine list evolve and perhaps being able to experience Shannon Bennett's or Ben Shewry's balls during a future visit. After the council elections, we may even have Robert Doyle's as a special.

Meatball & Wine Bar, Flinders Street, Melbourne
Meatball & Wine Bar
Link to review
135 Flinders Lane Melbourne VIC 3000
(03) 9654 7545
My Rating: 13.5/20
Service: 3/5
Ambiance: 3.5/5
Quality: 3/5
Value For Money: 4/5
Comment: Group bookings only accepted

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

When I made this post originally, 86% of the reviewers on Urbanspoon also liked Meatball & Wine Bar.

Meatball & Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

Monday, 15 October 2012

Manchester Press - What is the fuss about?

Every time I went to attend Manchester Press which is located on Rankins Lane off of Little Bourke Street, I would ultimately abandon all hope of securing a table in a timely manner. I am not complaining that the restaurant is popular but it seemingly always has a queue of hungry people waiting in the laneway with their names scribbled on the wall hoping beyond hope that a table will be freed up. After five failed attempts (where I decided that I did not want to wait and went elsewhere) I finally secured a table by walking up at 1:30 PM.

The place is buzzing and simple, highlighted by the ceilings, basic tables, chairs where everything looks well worn and used, however I believe that is the look that the place is trying to achieve. At least I think that is what they are trying to do.

I was a bit shocked to see that they really only prepare breakfast foods, various bagels and a salad. When in Rome though...

Service brings you water, takes your order and will bring you your food. There is no pomp and circumstance surrounding it and frankly you do not expect any. I was really stunned that people normally queue for bagels around lunch so I was expecting a damned good one.

What I got was a bit dry. Although the cheese and tomato along with the pickles made it quite a colourful and cheery dish, I couldn't understand the hype. The Ethiopian "free trade" coffee was good and it certainly was a great substitute for what I normally drink.

The corporate types were taking things a bit too seriously expecting service to rival that of Movida or the Stokehouse. Tourists were taking photos of their bagels and coffee with SLR cameras. Service seemed hurried but considering the people that were coming in and out and queueing at the register, I wasn't surprised. I started to wonder if there was something wrong with me because after I went to the register and paid, I could not understand all of the excitement about this place.

I would go back for the coffee perhaps to takeaway. I certainly wouldn't queue for a table in the future. It just wasn't my thing. It obviously is popular with the masses so who am I to complain.

It is hard to give this place formal ratings since they really just serve bagels, so I will reserve the usual points this time around. Still, I will let you be the judge on Manchester Press.

Manchester Press, Rankins Lane, Melbourne
Manchester Press
Link to review
8 Rankins Lane  Melbourne VIC 3000
(03) 9600 4054
My Rating: N/A
Service: N/A
Ambiance: N/A
Quality: N/A
Value For Money: N/A
Comment: The coffee is good.

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

When I made this post originally, 91% of the reviewers on Urbanspoon also liked Manchester Press.

Manchester Press on Urbanspoon