Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Rathdowne Tavern - $10 steaks Tue night

Yes, last night it was time to try out the Rathdowne Tavern's $10 steak offer. On first read, it does sound a little too good to be true: $10 for a steak and a pot? In Carlton?

But along we went to investigate, and I'm happy to report that all this goodness was completely true. They offer a range of steaks - the $10 option is the 200 gram steak complete with roasted vegetables and a pot of Carlton draught (they also have bigger steaks on offer for higher prices).

I also forked out an additional $8 for a side salad - which I liked, I thought the lime/citrus dressing was nice and tangy, but my dining companion was unimpressed with the salad. In fact he may have muttered "You could just spend an extra couple of bucks and eat more steak if you're that hungry". And yes, it does kind of negate the point of the whole "$10 dinner", I admit.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

When we arrived, possibly a little on the late side of 8pm, the place was packed. We got the last table, and were feeling quite chuffed about it until it eventually dawned on us that being this packed meant very slow service. Table service only, for ordering your dinner, and it took us a good while to be attended to. I would hazard a guess that there were only a couple of wait staff tending to all the tables in the hotel, but I could be wrong. Just take my word for it and get down there early if you're hungry, but if you're happy to kick back with your mates then you won't be worried. Its a nice venue, the big flatscreens seemed a little out of place to me, but horses for courses and all that.

Once our orders were taken, the steak appeared in no time flat. That kitchen is seriously pumping them out!

One small word of warning here: if you are ordering the $10 steak, we were advised that you can't specify how you'd like it cooked. It all comes out just a shade on the rare side of medium. So if you really like it either blue & bloody or seriously singed, you'll be dismayed by this news.

But for most people, I'm sure you'll cope - its a great steak, really good for the price, the roast vegies arrive tucked underneath the steak, a sprig of oregano and gravy across the top. Definitely worth a visit, if you are up for a good cheap steak in Carlton on a Tue night.

My cameraphone is still not playing by the rules unfortunately, so I might have to start carting a camera with me. If I can get it sorted there will be pics here soon.
Til next time, cheers!

Rathdowne Tavern, 184 Rathdowne St, Carlton

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Back in the saddle

Last night we ventured to a favourite from the old days. Now, admittedly, its not a pub, nor did we partake in $10 steaks or parmas.
But Shanghai Dumpling, located tucked away down Tattersalls Lane off Little Bourke Street, deserves mention for a couple of reasons. It was always a good spot for a cheap feed back in my younger days, and having not been there in a couple of years, I felt it was time to revisit. Plus I haven't been around for a bit so it was also time to report in on the blog, and its the only place I've been since I got back.
Shanghai Dumpling used to be a place where you could squeeze in next to a couple of strangers all sharing a table, tuck in to a plate of dumplings and some chinese broccoli and leave without much fuss to the wallet.
Well, things didn't seem to have changed terribly much.
There has been a little bit of a decor shift - a few more booths in place, the grungy old plastic tea mugs have been replaced with shiny new white ones, and things are slightly rearranged (tea urn at the front of the restaurant instead of tucked down the back, etc) - but nothing alarmingly new to upset the mad, busy place we remembered. I also noticed that corkage has been introduced (different prices depending on whether you bring in a stubbie, a tallie, or a bottle of wine) and a few beers were now available for sale onsite. We figured we'd take advantage of that particular new feature and had a Tiger stubbie from the fridge, for $4.80.
I did note that the chinese broccoli in oyster sauce seems to have bounced its way up the price list to become one of their more expensive dishes, at $9.90. It was as delicious as always, however. A very generous plate of steamed vegetable and mushroom dumplings was $6.50 and a plate of fried pork dumplings was $6.80 - as you may notice, I strongly believe in eating the dumplings at a place with said item included in the name of the joint. We enjoyed the meal, enjoyed our noisy tablemates, and were happy to note that whilst things have had a marginal spit and polish, nothing really seems to have changed much. The only thing I did notice was that the old clientele didn't match the new one. Not so much a mix of everyone you could find in a teaspoon of Melbourne, and more just a bunch of groups of people heading out for the night. I reckon I only saw two students in the whole place which leads me to suspect that Shanghai Dumpling must have a newer, cheaper competitor that this old fogie doesn't know about.