The Gastrology team had a very busy 2014 and some restaurants we visited managed to slip through the cracks. But not to fear, we've gone back to the archives to dig up some of these forgotten places and give you little snapshots of what they have to offer.
We dined at the Paragon for dinner prior to it's rebirth as a more casual style cafe. The service was warm and attentive. The wine list was well priced and the rustic Italian dishes were of a good standard. The meatballs were a particular standout.
A funky vibe, friendly staff and high quality comfort food is what Mr Banks is about. This has made Mr Banks a popular choice among the CBD lunchtime crowd. Oh, and Mr Banks introduced us to maccaroni and cheese toasted sandwiches - need we say more?
Synonymous with great steaks and a featuring a warm and modern gastropub style ambiance, the Station Hotel is a great place to grab top shelf cuts of beef with flavoursome sauces and crispy hand cut chips - perhaps washed down with a beer or two. Our steaks were cooked perfectly to our liking and it is only a matter of time before we return.
The Workers' Food Room
Batting way above it's weight, The Workers' Food Room is one of our go to lunchtime meeting places. The menu is flexible and caters for all moods, ranging from sandwiches and salads all the way up to elegant and skilfully prepared mains. And if you still have room after that, the desserts are definitely worth trying too.
San Telmo's dining room immediately transports you the Buenos Aires of the past, with the open kitchen adding an element of theatre to the dining experience. All of our dishes were well prepared and the steaks were delicious and perfectly cooked. However, the service let San Telmo down - our waitress was rude, arrogant and kept applying pressure (without any subtlety) on our table to order more dishes. From speaking to others, this appears to be a recurring theme at San Telmo and definitely something that should be fixed without delay.
Although nothing to rave about, China Red is a clean, comfortable Chinese restaurant where you can satisfy your dumpling cravings. Dishes are ordered futuristically via touchscreens located at each table and served rapidly from the kitchen. Worth a try if you could not secure a table at Shanghai Street or Hutong.
A relatively uninspiring cafe, Cafe Keyif does little to really differentiate itself. Standard offerings of risottos, stews and parmas are available for reasonable prices. Although the service was friendly and the food was of a reasonable standard, Cafe Keyif is difficult to recommend.
With a large range of craft beers on tap and a hand pump when the weather is cooler, The Alehouse Project is a welcome addition to Melbourne's craft beer scene. Unfortunately, The Alehouse Project has struggled to achieve its clear culinary ambitions. During our visit last year, we found the food underwhelming and expensive. However, we understand that changes in the kitchen have been made so it may be worth giving this culinary work in progress a second chance.
Rapidly gaining in popularity, Doughboys Doughnuts has quickly developed a cult following. Whilst the toppings and flavour combinations are unquestionably delicious, we found the texture of the doughnuts themselves to be a little too dense and firm for our liking. Delicious, but there are better alternatives out there.
Having been around forever, Tofu Shop International has a very loyal and devoted fan base. The food here is guilt free and delicious and seems to make the idea of vegetarianism not so bad after all. Only downside is the price, which is steep for what is essentially a buffet of (delicious) pre-cooked vegetable and tofu dishes. If you do go, remember to try the tofu ice cream - very sweet but extremely delicious.
Hidden amongst the pizzerias of Lygon Street is Svago. Although on the upper end of the pricing scale, Svago delivers some really high quality and well presented Mediterranean dishes in a modern interior which seems to draw influences from Scandinavian design. The fluffy, freshly prepared gnocchi is a particular standout as is the service, which is always friendly.