Despite outside seating being available, considering the skagboys that were skulking about, and of course the weather that was intermittently pleasant at times, we decided to take refuge inside and the front of house was happy to seat us in the middle of the restaurant. A large menu of food and an equally large list of wine was presented for review and I had the equivalent of a university course of reading material to digest and ultimately be quizzed on.
After recent trips to not only the Barossa but also the Hunter Valley wine regions, I was not too interested in ordering a bottle of wine. This may sound odd because of the nature of this blog and my dining and drinking habits but after reviewing the wine list, I was a bit put off as nothing was very special. I quickly spotted bottles of wine that I had previously purchased at the cellar door and was reminded of the markup and despite it being a comprehensive list, I just wasn't excited. Water was fine as my only source of hydration for a change, which was quickly delivered to the table without being asked.
Wanting a bit of variety, we decided to start with antipasti, which you can choose five from the menu for $30 (or other quantities with proportionally higher prices) which seemed liked the right thing to do because of the plethora of choices. Prose at the top of the menu suggests that diners may want to consider ordering antipasti during the busy times as there may be a delay in your main offerings. At this point in time, the restaurant was rather dead and we ordered antipasti because it seemed like good value for money instead of a way to tide us over.
Both the Calabrese - a spicy pork salami with chilli, cayenne pepper and paprika along with Siciliano - a mild pork salami with hints of garlic, wine and pepper were really nice meats and when added to garlic and herb bread with melted mozarella ($8.50) and a sliver of Mozzarella di Bufala - cheese from Campania, Italy, made for a great merging of flavours and was really nice. Both the meats and the cheese are considered anitpasti options, and I was pleased with these three choices. Denominazione di Origine Protetta (DOP) Prosciutto San Daniele was the final compliment of meat and it was equally good. The final dish was a grilled prawn and calamari skewer with lemon, chilli, garic, breadcrumbs with a Romesco sauce - which should be a nut and red pepper-based sauce from the area around Catalonia, Spain. The sauce was just flat and was devoid of flavour. The calamari was dry and it just wasn't nice.
Being distracted by other patrons speaking on their phones in the restaurant and pretending to be important, it gave me the opportunity to spy on what other people were ordering. Mains of pasta were popular and the servings were absolutely enormous. Not really being in the mood for a large main and rather annoyed by the diners around us, we decided to pull up stumps. Despite asking for the bill and waiting a good ten minutes, we decided not to wait and just pay at the kiosk near the door which was also managing the takeaway coffee requirements of the occasional diners.
Despite one of the servers being very switched on and taking our order (detailed above) without finding the need to write it down and consult on the menu as a whole, service was rather lax and only engaging when multiple personalities pressured us to order a main. One of my pet peeves is being hassled to order mains and having pleasant conversation interrupted, especially when you are still holding the menu. Perhaps because of the harassment and the rude diners around us, we were put off. Perhaps it was the very awkward soundtrack that they had playing. At times it was relaxing dining music, almost what you would find playing in a lift, other times it was hip hop intermixed with classic party tunes. All very strange but it fits into the whole theme associated with Acland Street - quirky and different, I suppose.
89/91 Acland St St Kilda VIC 3182
(03) 9525 3232
My Rating: 12/20
Value For Money: 3/5
e-mail: epicureanofsouthbank (at) gmail (dot) com
At the time of this post, 85% of the reviewers on Urbanspoon like Rococo.