And then there were three. The rest of the group had flights home to Queensland, leaving us to battle the elements. Breakfast didn’t happen due to me sleeping through various alarms, only to be awoken by a message about lunch plans. My friends were given the good oil from a Toowoomba businessman that there was a hotel at the Port of Melbourne worth visiting. His intel is normally sound so that was a good as any reason to organise the logistics. An Uber picked us up but for a trip that should have been a few suburbs, I am sure we went via Geelong and Ballarat. Talk from the driver was rare so it was Madonna and the GPS lady competing for our attention while I struggled to get my bearings.
The Railway Club Hotel is nestled amongst chic renovated worker’s cottages that would not be out of place in the pages of a glossy magazine. Nobody was in the swanky dining section so we joined the locals and propped ourselves against the bar. A scotch ale (beer) for starters, for some reason I thought this might have been a relation to the ginger beer family. If it was it was the black sheep and these are easy to replicate at home. Empty the contents of an ashtray into two parts dishwater and one part vodka. It wasn’t my best decision of the weekend, I should have had a taster rather than going all in with a pint for the first drink of the day.
The best thing about eating as a group is having a chance to graize on a heap of different food. Being in close proximity to the water we had to order the chilli mussels. How can you tell if you are close to the water? Hold a glass up to your ear and if you can hear the sea then you are near the water. If you hold the glass up and “feel” the water you should have emptied your glass first. The mussels were beautiful and came with a loaf of bread. The bread is the food equivalent of the Shamwow with its ability to soak up all the moisture within a 5 metre radius.
Second dish was beef ribs. Meaty, messy and sweet – everything ribs should be. Bugger the serviettes, I need a bathtowel.
And to finish up, let’s polish off the tasting plate. Squid, prawns dusted in a secret spice mix and homemade sausages. We were unable to convince the kitchen staff to give us the recipe for the spice mix. And for something different, another loaf of bread.
The final score: 1st Mussels, 2nd Ribs, 3rd Tasting Plate.
Being so close to St Kilda it would be a wasted opportunity if we were just to head back into the city. My friends hadn’t been so we headed to the boheme melting pot. My earliest memories of St Kilda were shitty craft shops, music and European bakeries. Some things don’t change. Shops that sell incense, crystals and other projectiles that can be used against hippies were scattered between bakeries. The kind of bakery that would have a heart surgeon rubbing their hands together.
We couldn’t walk past without trying a delicacy or two. For starters, a French vanilla slice that made me want to ditch my beanie and immediately search for a beret and baguette. It was a pity we had to share this one three ways.
Pistachio tart and canoli.
Strawberry tart (yum), coconut ball and chocolate ball with almonds.
The three of us rolled out of there and collapsed into a tram. We vowed to not eat until tomorrow.
Paul Kelly sang about St Kilda:
I’d give you all of Sydney Harbour
All that land and all that water
For this one great promenade
But let’s face it, while St Kilda has a certain je ne sais quoi, given the property prices on Sydney Harbour you’d be crazy to swap the two like properties on a Monopoly board. Never go into real estate Paul.
A night time text discussed dinner options. My friends were still full from lunch but had made enough room for a “light” meal with a couple of drinks. They discovered a Japanese place, Izakaya Den which was located underneath their accommodation and specialises in tapas style shareplates. Things taste better with chopsticks. Sharing and laughter were again the order of the night. For a palate wake up call, some scallops showed up in front of us.
You can’t go to a Japanese eatery without miso soup. That would be the height of tomfoolery.
A Japanese version of fried chicken. No Colonel Sanders here, he’s been replaced by a Mr Miyagi.
Fantastic Prawns (3). That was their name. Would have to agree.
Black sesame brulee
Other dessert which was a cross between a trifle and an Asian Eton’s Mess.
Extricate myself from seat, climb the stairs and join the rest of the folk wandering the streets on a Monday night. The food was delicious and I am kicking myself for only finding out about this hidden gem on the last night. For once I will beat the streetsweepers home which is handy because somebody needs to pack a suitcase.