1117 Malvern Road
Pub grub - mains $18-$31
Last night, having been relentlessly hassled by my co-bloggers, we finally left the house to eat. Not wanting to venture too far, we went to our local pub, the Malvern Hotel.
Hugo, my PU#1* and I arrived at the Malvern around 8pm, and were seated in the front bit of the dining room, which although it has a lovely view of the National Security Agency and passing No. 16 trams, is a little drafty for a coolish March evening. I was glad I'd taken a jumper. Our somewhat ditzy blonde waitress brought us a giant blackboard of specials, but didn't explain anything other than the fish.
The Malvern Hotel has a long history - apparently, it's been there since 1857. I think the cheese twists they served as an appetiser may have been too. They came in a plastic packet, along with some warm olives. Hugo speculated that they may have been warm due to being pulled off someone's half-eaten pizza, but we wouldn't suggest for a moment that was actually true. The place seemed very clean and hygenic indeed.
We ordered steak (me), calamari (PU#1) and a rabbit pie (Hugo). It was approximately 8.10pm. At around 8.40pm, the crowd from the Blue Mountains (in town for the Commonwealth Games) were getting increasingly well-lubricated and, er, loud, but the natives were getting restless as our dinners hadn't arrived. At around 8.50pm we asked where our dinners were and the manager explained to us that there'd been a lot of orders at once (er, yes, and your kitchen staff ought to be able to cope with that). At around 9pm, PU#1 suggested to our waitress that perhaps we wouldn't have to pay for the food, since it was taking such an inordinately long time. At 9pm and 1 second the manager reappeared to tell us that it was coming, very, very soon, and that he'd love to offer us free hot drinks at the end of our meal to make up for it (hmph). At about 9.05pm our food finally arrived.
Now. Correct me if I'm wrong, folks, but a simple pub meal (and I have my steak blue, so it's not like it takes a long time to cook) shouldn't take an hour to arrive. Anyhoo. The steak was tasty (but I probably would have eaten a slab of raw walrus and pronounced it tasty by that stage, I was so hungry). The calamari was also nice, and not tough, and came with a lime mayonnaise, which tasted very mayonnaisey (i.e. not like the cheap Australian crap - Kraft, Praise, etc, etc), but not at all limey. In fact, if it weren't for the fact that it was a pale green colour, I would have doubted the limeyness. Actually, it may have been food dye.
Hugo's rabbit pie was disappointing. Bunnies are vermin, after all, and one would think there were enough of them (200-300 million is the estimated population) to fill a pie. But no! While he pronounced the bits of bunny there were delicious, he was left with a pie dish full of soupy liquid quite quickly. Not enough rabbit, too much stock was the overall verdict.
The portions were generous enough, however, and we found ourselves unable to contemplate dessert, although we did take the kindly manager up on his offer to supply us with free hot drinks. PU#1 ordered a short black, H & I had hot chocolates.
Now, there's really not that much you can do wrong with a hot chocolate. Or so you'd think. Personally, I like mine rich as Croesus, topped with cream, thick with marshmellows, lots of chocolatey goodness. But it's not essential. Milk, chocolate and possibly marshmellows are all the essential elements.
The manager brought over our hot drinks himself, still apologising for our tardy meals. Our hot chocolates had "artistic" swirls of chocolate topping on top of the foam. Ugh. Foam is just plain wrong, and chocolate topping taste disgusting to anyone over the age of about nine. Possibly ten if they're a late developer.
Hugo asked for a marshmellow. The manager scuttled off to get some. About ten minutes later he reappeared, highly apologetic but sans marshmellows, explaining that he'd actually gone across the road to the service station to try to buy a packet when he realised they didn't have any.
Bad planning, slow food (and not in the good slow food way), average pies... it's all not adding up to somewhere you'd want to eat dinner. There are great pub meals a-plenty in Melbourne. Give this one a miss.
*PU#1 stands for Parental Unit Number 1, and is used to refer to my mother. My father is PU#2.