Monday, 1 July 2013

Harbour Town Hotel + Costco - The Shadow of the Wheel

It was with a sense of disbelief that I saw the Southern Star "Wheel of Misfortune" turn the other day at Docklands. Not because it is back in operation, but for other insidious reasons no doubt. I am surprised that it did not just decide to roll down the Tullamarine Freeway just because it is tired of being inactive. It casts a shadow over the Harbour Town Hotel in the Docklands Harbour Town precinct and is supposed to be a draw card to not only this area in general, but also to this pub. It will be interesting to observe what happens when it ultimately goes back into service and whether or not the public will flock to this much maligned area.

Before taking on Costco which is next door, I called into the Harbour Town Hotel with the hope of getting a pub lunch and a pint of beer. Upon entry, you are affronted by a sign that says "please wait to be seated" in this pub that reminded me of a RSL just without any pokies in sight. Service escorted me to a table near the window, which is where the other patrons had been seated. One thing that irks me about service in general is when they assume a diner is interested in a view, in this case the outlook was to a construction site and gantries constructed over the walkway near the merry-go-round at the base of the Southern Star wheel. It isn't exactly the view from Lui Bar or Vue de Monde at Rialto Tower so I don't understand why exactly everyone was being wrangled into this area. As 90% of the dining room was vacant, I simply just moved my tired and thirsty old bones elsewhere. I was a bit annoyed that despite the bar area being long, you couldn't sit at it and were instead forced to dine with a perceived sense of civility at a table. Despite being taken to a seat, the patron still needs to get up and order food and drinks at the bar. Ultimately the food is brought to you however it just seems like a process from hell.

After consulting the list of daily specials and other things that were being displayed on the LED televisions, I ordered a chicken parma. There was a substantial amount of breaded chicken and in the end I did not finish it all just because it was so excessive. Unlike the beautiful chicken that I received at Porgie + Mr Jones recently, this was a bit dry and there was only a small amount of sauce however most would be satisfied with the size of this dish and the accompanying salad.

Besides the Nandos and the Coffee Club, there really is not much dining choice in this area. Normally I would just have a hot dog and drink ($2.50 with as many drink refills that you want) from the Costco membership warehouse however on this trip to do my monthly shopping, I wanted something a bit more substantial. The truth be told, there were some value-for-money lunch "deals" at the Harbour View Hotel and it may be a popular place in the evening to watch the footy on the weekend however would I go out of my way to visit this place if I was not intending to provide custom to Costco? I certainly would not.

Costco Docklands
Bulk buying is addictive at Costco Docklands
It also amazes me still that there are so many people that do not know what Costco is. It is a membership-only warehouse where you can buy items in bulk to put it simply. Individual membership costs $60/year and after the first time you shop there you will have saved that amount of money - I know that I did. I purchase a fair amount of liquor, non-alcoholic drinks (just picked up a slab of Cherry Coke for $9.99) and even white goods from the warehouse. The Hoover that I purchased broke down after six months and Costco was happy to take it back after I wheeled it into the warehouse dirty, without a box or a receipt and issued me with a store credit - no questions asked. The return policy is very American and is truly amazing. There is also a substantial meat and produce section where not only prime cuts of beef (think Waygu) and whole ducks that are on offer but also freshly made cakes, bread and fresh seafood. You can't go wrong with twelve freshly shucked coffin bay oysters for $11 either. Besides my love-affair with Costco (sometimes I will walk there from Southbank just to get a duck) there is a cafeteria of sorts that sells pizza, churros, salads and of course the aforementioned $2.50 hot dog with all you can drink soda. That has to be one of the best value-for-money quick and easy lunches in Melbourne and it is usually what I have before taking on the hordes of shoppers in the warehouse.

You can get a"guest pass" at Costco on Monday-Thursday if you want to check out the warehouse. Be aware that Costco checks membership cards if you try to park in their parking structure on Friday-Sunday.

Harbour Town Hotel, Docklands
Harbour Town Hotel
9/12 Star Circus, Docklands VIC 3008
(03) 8080 9800
My Rating: n/a
Service: n/a
Ambiance: n/a
Quality: n/a
Value For Money: n/a

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

When I made this post originally, 64% of the reviewers on Urbanspoon like Harbour Town Hotel. A further 90% like the cafeteria inside Costco.

Harbour Town Hotel on Urbanspoon Costco on Urbanspoon