Sunday, September 29, 2013

Dorset Gardens Hotel - Croydon, Victoria

I’m a fan of ambiance.  When I go out and have a drink or meal or a big night I like the surroundings to be congenial. It adds to the whole experience. Where we eat Indian regularly I would like to see the staff in traditional dress. It doesn’t happen but the food is good enough to bring us back, sari or no sari. Apart from a few Indian posters on the walls and Bollywood on the big screen the ambiance is poor.

While traveling between appointments one Sunday I dropped into the Dorset Gardens Hotel in Croydon for a lunch. Now you have to imagine a community centre hall which has been decked out with tables and chairs, a bar and staff to serve meals and drinks to get an idea of the bistro decor. There are no prints on walls, which are a bland tone or no art pieces or fine furniture. It is just stark, bland and plain and lacks any sort of ambiance. Thank God the food is good.

Though there are mostly very basic Vic. beers on tap there was at least Fat Yak, a beer I have enjoyed for some years. The meal I ordered was Veal Scaloppini. This was a huge meal which sat on a sold inch of mash potatoes.  The scallops tasted fresh and where at most pubs are tough and tasteless due to the fact they have been frozen and cooked and re-heated these were glorious. The veal was OK but a bit too much gristle, bacon and sauce very flavoursome and plenty of it. This meal would fill the big eaters amongst us.  The bread rolls were stale leftovers from the day before, disappointing.

Staff is very friendly and appear genuinely interested in ensuring you will have a good experience. They evidently didn’t have a bread roll that day! There is plenty of parking and even a Motel as part of the complex. Apart from the boring and drab decor and lack of atmosphere the food quality is good to very good and service great. The wine list is a little thin and beers on tap limited but for a good size meal at pub prices, it’s a sure bet.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

A Grand comparison with Daveys Hotel - Frankston

Are we blessed or are we cursed having three hotels on the one corner in Frankston? If nothing else it does give you choice. OK they are still just pubs but there are some differences as a recent meal at both highlighted. Having to drop the car of for a brake service, over two days, gave me the opportunity to take a stroll through Frankston and have a meal at two of the three Hotels. Both Hotels are on the corner of Princess Highway and Daveys street and are just minutes from the beach.

Grand Hotel
First off was the Grand Hotel which is far more pleasant looking inside than out. The decor is modern and the premises are well kept. There is an outside area but this was closed on the Monday I went for lunch. It was quiet inside, with only a few tables of patrons. The fish of the day was Barramundi which was a good portion and cooked well. The chips were long and perfectly cooked and the salad (which I rarely eat) was crisp and crunchy, nice and fresh.

Staff was pleasant and friendly and the atmosphere, light and airy. Not an expansive selection of beers on tap, pretty dreary actually. There are plenty of beers in the fridge if you feel like something upmarket from the Vic. offerings. The meal was excellent and the ambiance relaxing, save me a seat if you go for a feed.

Daveys, which is diagonally opposite to the Grand, started life as The Frankston Hotel. Where the Grand looks art deco on the outside, Daveys looks modern. Inside though Daveys is quite rundown but I did notice that one of the bars was being renovated. The view at Daveys is the real clincher why you may eat or have a drink here. Sitting up against the window, overlooking the Kananook creek, with views of the bay and a cold beer is a nice way to spend an afternoon.

I had a meal at Daveys and when the food quality is compared to that of the Grand it comes a very poor second. My seafood linguini was doughy, clumped and under cooked thought he squid and prawns were OK. The whole meal sat in bath of almost tasteless soup which was uninspiring to look at and eat. I picked out the prawns and squid and left all the horrid linguini.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Surfers Paradise Life Saving Club - Surfers Paradise, Gold Coast

Feel like a casual meal and a beer. The Surfers Paradise Life Saving Club on the Esplanade, in the heart of Surfers, may just be for you. Right across the road from the beach and seaside parks the location is ideal. Just think pub meals and pub service. The meals are OK and filling but this is not fine dining. If you visit on a day when the football is on it may be very noisy.  Also book ahead this is a very popular spot but they do cater for parties etc.

There is a selection of beers on tap and a good selection of wines and soft drinks. The meals are varied enough for everyone and the prices are quiet reasonable. Sit inside or out there is a number of seating areas. Staff are friendly and service prompt. This is a very well run club and though the food may not be top-notch a casual meal here will fill the spot.

Parking can be an issue on the Gold Coast and parking inspectors are always ready to pounce. There is parking across the road or down the street. Worth a visit for a full meal, coffee or a few drinks. The view across the road is a must for people watches and very pleasant on a sunny day. I’d go back.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Beachcomber Cafe - St Kilda Beach, St Kilda

If visiting Melbourne then St Kilda is a must see inner-metro suburb. St Kilda has a serious reputation for seediness but there is no denying when it comes to cafes and bars and all manner of entertainment it is hard to beat. It is located close to the beach which is itself a very popular landmark. The St Kilda Sea Baths are found here with a history all their own. An easy tram ride from the heart of Melbourne or accessible via rail from any suburb. After walking the main strip, Acland Street, stroll down to the beach and partake of an excellent, relaxed dining experience at Beachcomber Cafe.

My occasion to visit the Beachcomber Cafe was father’s day. The day itself being sunny and cool we took-up seating in the alfresco dining area. This is a huge cafe with a casual eating\take-away section on the street moving inside to a formal cafe\restaurant and then out to the alfresco area. Take your pick of location to park the butt. The day of our lunch was busy but there is many fine wait staff to assist with seating, drinks and food. All staff were efficient and friendly and willing to ensure you had a good time. Even the floor manager who visited our table was extremely helpful and friendly.

The seven of us all ordered different meals and apart from my pizza eating son everyone said there meals were excellent. For me it was the Seafood Risotto. Lots of mussels, squid and prawns and portion size was food. The risotto was just a little too wet on the bottom for me but the flavours were all there. Yum.

There is a good wine list and the house sav. blanc. was quite nice.  My daughter ordered a vegetable drink and though bright green in colour she said it was excellent. So something for everyone. Visit St Kilda and visit Beachcomber Cafe. It will make your day.