Eating at The Rocks

We headed to The Rocks for dinner.    Of course the area is historic, so it’s pleasant from that perspective.   However, to be frank, I’ve found in the past that it’s hard to find anywhere there that’s half decent to eat at, probably because it’s over-touristed and under-restauranted with the result that quality declines and prices rise (a corollary to Parkinson’s Law?).       So it was with a little trepidation that we asked for a table at Caminetto.   In fact, I was pleasantly surprised:  my veal chop with mushroom sauce was nice and S’s vegetable lasagna was quite acceptable too (but surely it’s hard to get lasagna wrong)?   We opted for a ½ litre of “house red”,  in spite of being told when we asked about the style that it was an “Italian blend” (whatever that means).   But even that went down well after the first couple of sips.

At the outset the service was just a little ordinary, but it was a busy time of the evening.   As the evening progressed, and things slackened off a little, the service improved.    Hence, when an unexpected heavy, but short shower came by, we were quickly moved from our table in the courtyard just outside the reach of the umbrella to an adjoining dry position.

We then headed through the Argyle cut and ended up walking all the way back to our accommodation on what turned out, after the shower, to be a very pleasant evening.

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Manly

We headed  to Manly for lunch with M and G.   Naturally this involved the iconic ferry ride across the Harbour…..always an experience, no matter how often you do it.

Lunch was at Hugo’s at Manly Wharf:  good food, nice outlook and competent service.   But the four of us were crammed on to a table of barely-adequate size.   The best feature of course was catching up with M and G.  We always seem to have a lot to talk about when with them.

Hugo’s

Meanwhile, just a bit more about the Meriton apartment we’re in.   It’s certainly not the cheapest place around nor are the immediate surroundings the most up-market in town, but it is spacious and the near-to Town Hall location is quite convenient (think QV Building shopping and more prosaically a full-service Woolies)!  In the other direction the vibrant Haymarket area isn’t too far.    I’m not sure how tall the building is (51 floors?), and we’re on level 30, but our views are down into the canyons of Pitt and Bathurst Streets.

There’s an open air balcony (with ash tray).  I opened the door to take a photo,  but haven’t had the courage to put as much as a toe outside!

 

 

Giorgios

Long-established local restaurant Giorgios has undergone a major refurbishment.  I see on the website that it’s described as a “fresh new look”.    The website even invites you to browse through the renovation, but contrary to the usual case when pictures are posted on the internet, I think that the new atmosphere is better “in the flesh” than on the website!

We’ve been there a couple of times since it re-opened, once for coffee and once for a meal.   Service is as good as in the past and the new atmosphere is, well, “fresh”.   As well as extending the area, it breaks the spaces up quite well.

Fresh new look?

The food is fine too.   You wouldn’t call it adventurous, but it’s certainly of a high standard, and the quantities are generous!  Prices have crept up a bit, but that’s probably fair enough, although corkage if you BYO at $15 a bottle seems a bit of a “hit”.

Are there too many coffee shops?

The question has been raised in Britain as to whether the market for coffee shops has become saturated.   From the BBC report, it seems the issue there arises because there appear to be a number of chains competing in the market.  This seemingly makes the market there rather different from ours, as (at the risk of generalising) it seems that Melburnians (and Australians) don’t favour chains (look at the Starbucks experience).

It’s interesting that the report mentions an opinion in Britain that the big brands need to watch out for the rise of independent coffee shops.

Just the same in some areas, the market in Melbourne definitely appears saturated.  Sure, the coffee culture is particularly strong in our neighbourhood, but the competition is brutal.   Just as one place starts attracting a crowd, another place opens up or is re-furbished, the and the crowd’s loyalty quickly switches.  And a change on proprietorship can result in a dramatic fall-off in business.

I wonder how many people have put their savings into buying a business, only to see the money disappear.    Enthusiastic would-be operators need to take a cold, hard look at the area before jumping in.

Williamstown

We didn’t stay for the lunch after the funeral (there were “dietary” issues), so went down the road and had an acceptable (but not memorable) meal at the Kealba pub.   But the ambiance (rather, the lack of it) of the pub didn’t induce us to stay for coffee, so we diverted off the Westgate Freeway on the way home to Williamstown for a gelati and coffee.

Although outside it was chilly, we sat in the Pelicans Landing bar where it was very relaxing watching out over the Bay.

Looking out from bar
Street vista

Ena

We’ve been to Ena Southgate (“ena” is “one” in Greek) a couple of times now, and have enjoyed our time there on both occasions.    It’s described as “Greek street food”, but it seems to us just well presented classic “Greek” food.   If that’s street food, then so be it.  The atmosphere is pretty casual and the place certainly seems to get busy at time (which we think is a good sign!), but there are lots of staff.   When we were there at the weekend, by the time we’d finished out meal, the crowd had thinned out a bit, and a couple of the wait-staff came past for a chat.

There is indeed a a rotisserie over a coal fire pit as mentioned on the website.

 

Mediterraneo

Albert Park is a bit away from our usual eating haunts, but friends thought we should try Mediterraneo.  We weren’t disappointed:    the menu had a lot of variety and it was hard to choose between the offerings.

There seemed to be a lot of staff, some more professional than others, and just occasionally there seemed a little confusion about who was doing what!    However, overall, the service was good.  Certainly, the kitchen seemed to have its act together, both in the standard of the meals we received and the timing.  Some of our group started with the cevapcici, but I had the pumpkin soup.   For mains, I had Hungarian goulash, others had the venison, seafood kebab and kangaroo dishes, and without fail, all were good.   Of course, the restaurant promotes its steaks, but our group appears to have moved beyond these, so didn’t sample the offerings — especially not the 550g T-bone (there are others of course).

Prices were quite reasonable for what we received, although we couldn’t “BYO” wine.  And on the weeknight we were there, parking was plentiful.