Loose Change Lunch… Feast a fortune, Pay a Pittances

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The regular instalment in our St Kilda Bites food review feature continues; where our poignant food critics, Shona Narayanan and Oakley Hunter, continue their relentless search for great value, high quality local lunch dining. Here are three more eateries in the St Kilda area worth mentioning! They enjoyed their first experience in the lovely quiet suburb of Elwood, that recently boasts some wonderful little breakfast and lunch cafes, then moved on to the busy Acland street and finally emerged in the food hub of Carlisle street, Balaclava.

 

Blue Tongue Wine Bar

62 Ormond Road Village, Elwood

Ph: 9531 3011

Long-time locals of Elwood Village, Blue Tongue played host to our tight fisted ways as we were immediately charmed by the quaint venue with warm yellow walls and a sizable sprinkling of patrons on a sunny Thursday afternoon. Boasting an extensive wine list and large windows that fill the indoor seating area with a glorious breeze and sunshine, I was immediately regretful at the prospect of having to return to work after my lunch. I could vividly imagine us curled up on an outdoor bench in the sun as we sipped (in a refined manner, no doubt) our wines and glanced smugly as passer-bys shot us looks of envy not dissimilar to the current look I undoubtedly had on my face.

Being the responsible adult that I occasionally am, I opted instead on a less alcoholic option of beverage: a fresh Zest Lovers juice ($6), at the suggestion of my wonderfully attentive waitress. A delightful concoction of orange, grapefruit, apple and lemon, the beverage lives up to its name in every way. It was delightfully tart from the grapefruit and lemon but notes of sweetness from the apples broke through and all in all it was a welcome refreshment that I’m certain must be healthy for me in an abundance of ways.

Feeling slightly begrudging at the thought of returning to my sunshine-less office, I defied all loose change lunch logic and ordered myself a beer battered fish and chips ($20.50) while my companion exercised his more dedicated thriftiness and ordered a roast pork belly roll with Asian coleslaw and chilli mayonnaise ($12.50). All around me I watched as patrons oohed and ahhed over the arrival of their food – the seafood linguine ($21.50) was a common source of the excitement as it came out elaborately in a large plate intricately laced with prawns, squid, mussels, fish, chilli, basil, garlic and tomato. My fish and chips arrived on an equally large plate, with two thick cuts of beer battered fish, a large serving of chips and a glossy salad of cucumbers, red onions and cherry tomatoes. The fish was fresh and accompanied wonderfully with it was tangy mayonnaise. As a dignified pork lover, my companion gave two steadfast thumbs up to his sandwich, which consisted of roast pork belly and Asian coleslaw. A wide variety of sandwiches are available at a very affordable price range; between $10.50 to $14.50. Fresh juices are also a hit on the menu as these carefully thought out concoctions go for a standard rate of $6.

Overall the venue is a great spot for lunch, loose changed or not. A wonderful staff and diverse menu is something that will keep me coming back for more.

 

Abbey Road Café

129–131 Acland St, St Kilda

Ph: 9534 8946

www.abbeyroadcafe.com.au

With winter coming, taking refuge on Abbey Road’s plush couches one chilly afternoon turned out to be a great idea. The fantastic décor that spruced up the spacious restaurant was indeed a treat as I constantly found myself getting distracted by all of the musical icons that hung alluringly on the wall – from The Rat Pack to Bob Marley.

Despite the comprehensive menu that Abbey Road boasts, I settled on the special of the day. Some days you just feel like a good old Chicken Parmigiana and without a doubt today was one of those days. At a mere $15, I admit I wasn’t setting my barrier of expectation very high despite the significant lunch crowd that had nestled right in to Abbey Road’s homely furniture. Needless to say I was pleasantly surprised when my mountainous plate arrived; a thick chicken schnitzel fried golden and smothered in napolitana sauce, ham and wonderfully browned mozzarella cheese to top it all off! The side serving of fries and fresh tossed greek garden salad summed up the contents of my plate, and needless to say I could not finish it. My companion on the other hand ordered a delectable looking serving of chicken curry and chips ($19 on Wednesdays); the unique English styled curry was admittedly more of a korma but no less a hit.

During the cold wintery months, Abbey Road are hosting a large slew of specials that you should definitely check out. Situated on St Kilda’s Acland Street, the restaurant is only minutes away from the oceanfront and is perfect for an afternoon lunch whether you’re on the go or you’re stopping to smell the flowers.

 

Carlisle Wine Bar

137 Carlisle St, Balaclave

Ph: 9531 3222

www.carlislewinebar.com.au

My friends and I have, over the past few months, created a somewhat ritual of finding a warm, intimate café or bar every week to relax, laugh, drink wine, and maybe indulge in some cheesecake – but mainly the wine. So I can’t wait to take them to the Carlisle Wine Room next week.

This casual rustic European wine bar has been on Carlisle Street for ten years. Filled with boutique wines, ceiling high, its mood lighting, dark wood floors and soothing music make it a perfect place for a warm, relaxed and easy night out with your close friends.

Jason Stilley has been the head chef for seven years, working extensively in Italian restaurants for most of his career in Melbourne. He, and owner Steve Millic, have created a colossal Autumn/Winter 2013 menu that offers a large selection of quality seasonal meals and tapas, and an even larger selection of wines from around the world, which change almost on a weekly basis.

But I was there for value, and the ‘Weekend Express Lunch’ is a steal, offering you a choice of a one course meal and a glass of wine for $18.

As delicious as Beef Lasagne, Steak or the Pasta of the Day sounded, I chose the Sauv Blanc to match. It was in front of me in what seemed like minutes, and my meal was accompanied with house-baked bread and butter. It was everything you’d want; light, crispy pistachio seasoning, tasty, very well cooked, soft, not tough or chewy. The sweet burst of orange and fresh Pistachio Crumbed Calamari with rocket, radicchio and orange segment salad, and a 2010 New Zealand salad, made it well worth it.

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