Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Stokehouse - St Kilda

Address: 30 Jacka Boulevard, St Kilda, Victoria 3182
Phone Number: (03) 9525 5555
Functions Phone Number: (03) 9536 1135
Fax Number: (03) 9525 5291
email: stokehouse@theprince.com.au
website: http://www.stokehouse.com.au/

Lunch: 12pm - 2:30pm
Dinner: 6pm - 10pm

7 Days: 12pm - late

Price Range: $17 - $30 for a meal

Reviewer: BEVIS
Date: 6th February, 2007


Wifey, Sweetums and I took several family members out for dinner on Saturday night, and our restaurant of choice was The Stokehouse. We had a pram with us, and required a table for 12 (in order to cater to the pram - we were actually only 10 people).

The specials board promised a lovely-sounding lamb cutlets dish which we were informed had very small portions of lamb cutlets (instead focussing on the mash to fill the plate), so the seven or so of our number who intended to go with the lamb decided instead to order either the risotto or a gourmet pizza.

Naturally, I opted to go with the pizza option. I ordered ‘The Stokehouse’ pizza, which was basically a Mexicana. Wifey went with the risotto. She told me her meal was delicious and it certainly looked yummy (even to a non-rice eater like myself). Meanwhile, my pizza was spicy and perfect. Just the way I like it.

The Stokehouse, as seen from the beach

We dined ‘downstairs’ (there was a wedding reception being held upstairs), and were placed along a corner table. As we had Sweetums with us, we were eating somewhat early, but this meant we were treated to a beautiful sunset across the water – because the restaurant overlooks St Kilda beach.

The layout and organisation of The Stokehouse is such that after being seated, you make up your mind about your order, then walk to the bar and buy your meal and drinks there, giving the server your table number. When the meal comes, you’re free to eat it at your own pace, returning to the bar to buy more drinks if you want them.

This means that you’re not in a big rush to move on (no one is hovering, waiting to give you your bill), and when you finish your meal you can simply walk out (or stay for dessert if you wish). As for our group on Saturday night, we decided to follow our meal with a leisurely walk along St Kilda beach and an ice cream on the esplanade as a reward for avoiding all the syringes.

The Stokehouse (right) overlooking the beach (left)

The Stokehouse features a charming atmosphere, which – although noisy (the tiled floors make all sounds bounce around, creating quite a din which is not helped by the drunken surfers who were yelling at each other across the table) – really lifts the mood of the meal. There can be no doubt that the view helps a lot.

Parking can be a problem, as you’re in St Kilda and it’s $7 for anything longer than two hours, but if you’re travelling by tram or simply walking, it’s “behind Luna Park and a bit to the right”.

Some people (not us) enjoying
the outdoor dining section

Rating: I give The Stokehouse four out of a possible five stars.

Stars: ****



sublime-ation said...

I like The Stokehouse, only thing is it's always full.
On the parking, I have a great story about the place from a former staff member there. Apparently one of Melbourne's society dames used to leave her black BMW out the front, walk in and throw her car keys to anyone standing there, expecting them to act as her valet. Needless to say, the staff would hand the keys back to her, and say 'park your own damn car' or something along those lines. There may be palm trees, but it's still Melbourne, not LA.

BEVIS said...

It was Ms Fits, wasn't it.

sublime-ation said...

Lillian Frank, Sheila Scotter---> MS FITS*. She better start working on her accent/signature colours/hat for the Melbourne Cup now.

And then we'll all keel over and die.

MelbourneGirl said...

i find downstairs always too noisy, but food and views are good. also, once you've eaten upstairs it's kind of hard to go hoi polloi again. it's just the damn noise.

glad you had a good meal and you are taking sweetums oot and aboot.

BEVIS said...

Sounds like we're gonna have to go back when they're not holding a function upstairs, and try the second level!

Mairead said...

Yeah Maan
Address: 340 Punt Road South Yarra 3141
Phone Number: (03) 9820 2707
website: www.yeahmaan.com.au

Price Range: $20-40 for a meal

Total price: $221 for seven, not including wine
$31 per person

There is only one Caribbean restaurant in Melbourne (well there is a cafe called Babble On Babylon but it is only open in the daytime). It happens to be that our local bus takes us straight there, through the city centre and out the other side, right to the nearest corner. Some friends had warned us that the food was good but the portions were tiny, but we needed to see for ourselves.

And so it was that we took seven mates along there one Saturday night to see if it was anything worth talking about.

Yeah Maan is a tiny terraced building, converted from a house, with enough seating for about forty downstairs and another small dining room upstairs. Instead of the expected reggae blasting out, we were delighted to hear some classic soca tunes. We had a reservation but they didn't seem to know anything about that. We were shown to the upstairs room, and although we had explained that it was a reservation for seven people, we were asked to sit at a smaller table until we insisted we needed more room.

Once everybody had arrived we were pretty desperate for a drink - or at least some glasses for our BYO wine. In the end Orlando obliged by going downstairs himself. We thought that might shake up the waitresses, but we waited quite a long time for anybody to come and see if we were OK. It was the girl's first night so she didn't know much, but she was sweet.

Apart from myself and Orlando, we had three people who had only eaten Caribbean food in our house (Mena, Eileen and Kelvin), and two people who had no idea what they were in for (Australian Ida and Italian Viviana). The Trinidadian doubles served up were generous and talked about for days; Mena's Stamp 'n' Go was a huge portion and absolutely divine. Orlando and I both had the Pick Up Salt Fish, which was saltfish mixed with onions, tomato and peppers served on a dumpling. It reminded both of us how much we love saltfish, and I promised to go get some and start cooking it again. Pity we can't get ackee anywhere though...

The chilly janga roti (chilli prawns) were not too hot and spicy, which was probably just as well for the virgins. You could probably ask for them to be made a bit hotter. Kelvin chose the aloo pies, a huge portion of spicy potato balls which were tasty enough but nothing exciting.

The mains were even better. Eileen was served an enormous portion of jerk chicken and cassava fries, which she struggled manfully to consume, but ended up pleading with everybody to finish for her. She said it was lovely, but not as nice as Orlando's (well, you can't get Walkerswood here either).

The curried goat was really lovely, but I forgot to ask for mine to be made hot, so although it was tasty there was no kick to it. Orlando had asked for his hot, but it wasn't much better than mine. The rice and peas were made with small kidney beans (guess what? No gunga peas in Aus...) but it worked fine. Mena scored again with the ginger tamarind chicken which was beautifully seasoned, a good strong kick. The calypso chicken looked good, but even for the virgins it seemed very mildly-flavoured.

The service didn't get any better. We helped ourselves to more napkins, water and fresh glasses from behind our personal minibar in the corner, and raided the other tables for new candles for the table. Even when we wanted the bill, it warranted another trip downstairs. Maybe if we had been seated down with everybody else it might have been better.

Nonetheless, we were not in any hurry and the relaxed vibe certainly didn't ruin the evening. We put the world to rights without fear of annoying other diners with our noise, we finished a few bottles of wine and enjoyed some fine West Indian food. The rumours of small portions were well and truly scotched, and we will definitely come back again for more.

Francis Xavier Holden said...

I dined upstairs at night at Stokehouse just last week. Luckily I wasn't paying.

Entrees were $21 - $25 (I had quail. It was good)

Mains $28- $40+ (I had some NZ fish special I forget it's name - $42 if I recall. Good fish but no better than others I've had at half the price)

Accompanied by Roasted spuds and some beans (looked like small snake beans to me)were good. I'm sure the spuds were deep fried to be that evenly and deeply crisp all over.

Sweets $18 - $24 (I had some concoction. Seemed fine as far as it goes but I'm not a sweet fan and only had it because I was egged on)

I only had a quick squiz at the wine prices but they generally seemed to be @100% + mark up - eg $40 bottle for $80.

The service was good to excellent. The seating far to low to table to be comfortable. The place was packed the noise was almost unbearable. Not possible to hold any sort of conversation with a person on other side of table for 8.

Meal cost $80+ and wine that I possibly drank $120+ worth. All up it was $200 just for me.

I'd be reluctant to go back there again, even if someone else was paying.

BEVIS said...

Francis Xavier Holden, thanks for your comment / review!

Sounds like you scored well, not to have paid for your $200 meal. And although the food was largely okay (by your own words), it sounds like the atmosphere was what really lost points for you.

I know what you mean - if they were to carpet the floors (instead of leaving the tiles), that would do wonders for reducing the deafening hubbub that goes on in that place.

But I guess we can't all be geniuses like me.

tippitappi said...

looks like a fabulous place to me!

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