Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Melbourne Public

Every Friday night I feel compelled to do something - have drinks with girlfriends, socialise with colleagues, have a dance. But Fridays lately have been a little lackluster, so I encouraged Dan to have dinner out with me. We chose Melbourne Public because, if heaven forbid, the footy started while we we're out to dinner, we'd still be able to watch it. Yes, our weekends revolve around Aussie Rules for close to 7 months of the year. Nevertheless, it led us to a new pub we'd never visited and I can't complain about that.

Melbourne Public is one of the many new establishments on the South Wharf Promenade. Boasting a large space with high ceilings and large wooden communal tables, Melbourne Public combines new pub-world style with old pub-world priorities... what does that mean? As much as decor and quality food are evident here, it is sport and socialising that steals the spotlight. Large televisions are conveniently located both inside and outside so you need never miss a sporting minute. And if you want to know what will be on the screens that night, you can look it up on their website - genius!

In an attempt to cater to everyone, literally. Melbourne Public offers 'bar food' in its main area but also has a specific 'dining room', which offers fancier fare. Given our need to be near the footy, we ate from the bar menu.

The menu was surprisingly varied. It was actually hard to decide what to order. So we went a bit over the top and ordered a couple of things each.

Meatballs, oh meatballs, you can do no wrong. Ok, there probably are places that do heinous meatballs, but you won't find those at Melbourne Public. The sauce was deliciously spiced and the dollop of yoghurt added some depth to the flavours and textures. The lamb meatballs themselves were small but perfectly formed and cooked. It was the sauce that really made this dish though and there was much more sauce than the meatballs needed, which made for a very delicious chip dipping sauce. Yum.

Dan is quite the fan of pork. In fact, it was what he ordered on our very first dinner date and he has certainly eaten it many times since. So surprise, surprise we ordered the Slow roasted pork belly squares. While I am also a fan of pork, these little guys didn't do much for me. They tasted fatty and the pork rind was soft, which is not my preference, but Dan enjoyed it.

The steak sandwich was uninspiring but filling. I am not one who usually orders a steak sandwich (which is probably the real reason for my lack of inspiration), but it felt appropriate in the atmosphere and the moment. The beetroot was a welcome addition but the steak itself was too thin. After the impressive meatballs, it just couldn't compete.

Being ever so unpredictable, Dan also ordered a parma. If I could get him to eat less of any dish, it would be parmas. Anyway, it looked like decent chicken breast meat but Dan said it was a bit dry and definitely could have had more flavour. For people wanting fairly standard pub food though, it ticks the box. (Although it is probably a tad more expensive than your average pub.)

I was captivated by the meatballs, but the rest of the meals didn't have me raving. If I head back to Melbourne Public it will be for the 'pub' atmosphere - I think it'd be a great place to down some beers and watch a footy game with mates. And we might try the dining room to see what the kitchen is really capable of too.

- Dani

Name: Melbourne Public
Cuisine: Pub food
Price: $$/$$$
Location: 11 Dukes Walk, South Wharf VIC 3006

Melbourne Public Cafe on Urbanspoon

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