The Melbourne Hotel
Ever noticed how sometimes, the side-attraction is better than the main event? Movie previews, for instance; they’re always entertaining, sometimes even better than the damn movie. Superhero sidekicks are another; they’re always really spunky and have way better one-liners. And people: who doesn’t enjoy eating raw cookie dough more than the final, baked product?
I had a bit of the sidekick syndrome recently at The Melbourne Hotel in West End. We started with the Black Olive, Persian Fetta, Sweet Onion and Rosemary Pizza Bread ($9.90). A mini pizza came out that was large enough for a meal itself. This was terrific. The onion had been caramelised perfectly, and paired so well with the olive and fetta. The crust was thin yet doughy, and there wasn’t a greasy drip or spot to be found anywhere on the pizza. D and I both loved this starter.
I also had a glass of Pinot Grigio ($8), and D got a Little Creatures. Top marks for having Little Creatures Pale Ale on tap! It’s about time more places served draught craft beer.
D ordered the pork belly, which came with a broad bean risotto, roasted sweetened apple, and jus, for $27.90. Our first bite was pretty life-changing. The edge of the pork belly piece was ooey-gooey, sweet, sticky, and required barely any chewing. The accompanying risotto was superb – I’d say one of the best I’ve ever had. It wasn’t very cheesy, yet still had a very rich and flavourful taste. The roasted apple slices were a unique twist that I loved, and went so well with the pork and risotto.
As D got further through the pork belly, I swooped back for another taste. This time, I was pretty disappointed. I was expecting rich, molten pig fat to pass my lips, but instead I chewed my way through a pretty dry piece of meat. The rest of the piece was the same story. The only saving grace was the remaining edges, which were still tasty and soft.
My own meal (the Peppered Crusted Tuna, $30.90) suffered a similar fate. The Tuna came with stir-fried snow peas, bok choy, capsicum, sprouts, and udon noodles, all in a teriyaki sauce. The stir fry was sensational. The vegies were fresh and cooked perfectly, the noodles weren’t slimy, and the sauce that coated everything was finger-lickin’ good.
The piece of tuna on top was not. When I ordered, our waitress told me that the tuna would be cooked medium-rare, and I said I was happy with that. What arrived was very cooked. Anyone who knows tuna knows that this bad boy should be pretty pink inside. This piece of tuna was grey. I had a glimmer of hope when I saw a flash of pink in the middle of the fillet, but this was pretty short-lived.
Now, in defence of The Melbourne, the menu doesn’t describe the tuna as medium rare or seared at all. But, the waitress did tell me it would be medium rare, and it most definitely was not. Again in their defence, D and I have both never had pork belly before. I’ve heard, however, that it’s supposed to have a crackling-like shell, and be very rich and succulent all the way through.
The Melbourne Hotel dishes up a menu that puts a lot of pubs and bars to shame. The standard steaks, ribs, and chips are there, but there’s also the delicious-sounding Chorizo and Chilli Penne, Roasted Pear and Prosciutto Salad, and New Zealand Black Mussels. It’s also a pretty nice space – the outdoor area, where we sat, felt secluded and quiet yet still had the fun and relaxed vibe of inside. The service could not be faulted either; Beth, our waitress for the night, was professional, friendly, and very knowledgeable about the menu.
The servings are also excellent value for money – the meat is big, the vegies are big, the sides are big. And for the most part, the food is very good quality.
I want to rescue these meats from a lifetime of sidekick syndrome. C’mon, pork belly. Stop living in the shadow of a grain. Come into the limelight and wow us with your 100% melty goodness.
The Melbourne Hotel
Restaurant and Bar
10 Browning St, West End
(07) 3840 9888
A-Dawg and D would like to thank The Melbourne Hotel for feeding us