Wednesday 5 December 2007

M Bar. Crushingly mediocre...

There has been much said recently on restaurant reviews by bloggers.



and here.

So, I preface this review by stating clearly that reviewing food is subjective. Meat and poison and all of that.. so the below review reflects nothing save my own opinion.

M Bar, in Toorak Road, describes itself as "buzzy" and "trendy", "Australian eclectic with a touch of Europe"

It's not.

It's loud, crowded and boring. The ubiquitous chrome and neutral colour scheme, prevalent in every other "trendy" cafe in Toorak, indeed in Melbourne. The tables were so closely packed that the waiter was close to having an intimate act that I usually only perform on my own husband attempted on him every single time he had to squeeze his groin past the back of my head.

If I'd turned around at an inopportune moment, I'd have had to have given him my phone number and expected respect in the morning.

I like my frottage on trams, thankyouvery much, NOT in dining establishments.

The other issue that stemmed from having the restaurant that jam-packed was that it was loud... I mean Unreasonably loud. We were a table of six, and I could barely hear what my neighbour was saying to me. Requests for more wine from the other end of the table were met with blank looks. A quick game of Charades was eventually enacted to get the salt passed from one end of the table to the other.

I was close to calling Di on her mobile to get my glass filled.

At sitting, small bowls of oil and balsamic vinegar were present on the table, but no bread. We stared, longingly, for a good 1/2 hour before it arrived. The bread was bog-standard Safeway bread stick, tasteless and chewy... NASTY.

The prices were steep. Mains were anything up to $34 for the porterhouse. ($35 for the flouder with chips and salad on the specials board), and when you can get Chargrilled 250gm grain fed Wagyu rump cap $34 from Bistro Vue (see Melbourne Foodie's review here...) it seems a little overpriced.

The menu consisted of basic pub fare. A porterhouse, a steak sandwich, a chicken schnitzel, some pastas and a couple of salads. The specials menu was long on fish and short on inspiration.

I went for the house pasta, $19.95 for the main serve. Glad I went the bigger size, as what I received was a slightly bigger than entree size of very VERY overcooked spaghetti with some generic sun dried tommies, a handful of baby spinach, some pine nuts and some fetta. The fetta was tough and salty. The pasta had seen al dente sometime last week.

My friend's salad looked good.. a large serve of rocket with a goodly portion of beef, but the rest of the table's offerings were decidedly ordinary looking. People actually may have raved about the food, but unless they'd drawn me a diagram, complete with arrows to indicate movement, I'd not have known over the noise.

We tossed up the dessert option, yet again nothing inspired, tired old sticky date pud, a baked cheesecake offering, an orange cake and gelati option, a creme brulee and a cheese platter, all at $12, but again, when I know you can get

Dessert: “Soufflé au chocolat” ($12): This is a dessert that certainly attracted a lot of attention. The smell that drifted across the restaurant was amazing and there were guests swooning all over the place. After a 20 minute wait, the time taken to prepare the dessert, the masterpiece arrives. On a board sits the chocolate soufflé in a cast iron pot. In a separate dish sits a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and in a jug to the side is the wonderful chocolate sauce. As the dessert is placed in front of you the waiter creates a hole in the middle of the soufflé and pours in the chocolate sauce. The traditional idea of a soufflé being more of a pudding is embraced here, and the end result certainly does not disappoint. This is one of the lightest and most indulgent soufflés I have eaten, and at $12 it certainly beats most other desserts around the city on taste, value and ultimate satisfaction. A lot of people in the restaurant were ordering this, and many of those who had not couldn’t help but glance over with big eyes and comment on how wonderful the dessert looked and smelled, trying to convince their partners that they should order one (next time).
(Taken from Melbourne Foodie)

Given the crushingly mediocre fare we'd been served, we skivved off.

The house wine was not named and was $8 a glass. It took over 15 mins for my single glass to arrive.

Nearly $50 for 2 serves of very ordinary pasta and a single glass of instantly forgettable wine.

Don't bother. Go next door to Romeo's for cheaper, better, more consistent fare.


neil said...

It sounds like you've taken one for the team, crushingly mediocre indeed, better luck next time.

It's been ages since I was at Romeos, I took a date there and funnily enough, can't remember a thing about the food!

Anonymous said...

Toorak Road! I have to ask, was it a dare, a reunion, a tryst, an undercover Op?
I dont even live in Melb anymore so i guess I am talking out of my date (again!)BUT, generic restuarants like this are all part of the 'Beige' phenomenon that you have described earlier PG.
If ever there were a poster boy/girl for the reason why its better to cook at home, these joints should be front & centre.
Take their 'hero', that freakin' souffle, the whole restaurant rests on its power to 'OOh & Ahh'. Maybe to some it makes up for every other disappointment of the night, to me though it smells of cynicism, high-rent & paint by numbers un-hospitality.
How dispiriting!

Anonymous said...

Ha Ha Ha

serves your mob right. Who was the wanker who picked a "trendy" resto in Toorak Rd.

And you were surprised it was crap!

What did Furry have for dinner? A warm chicken ceasar salad. Total cost, 'bout $10. And it was probably better than anything on the menu where you were at.


No sympathy for any of you ..... serves you right for abandoning your Furry all night long.

Especially since you took the pellets for the air rifle before you left! I WAS BORED!

thanh7580 said...

Oh Ella, that is hilarious. I think your review is totally honest and has saved me a trip there. It's also hilarious, I'm cracking up here at work.

I loved this line the most
"If I'd turned around at an inopportune moment, I'd have had to have given him my phone number and expected respect in the morning."

I too hate really noisy places. Hence I found places like Bar Lourinha and Belgian Beer Cafe a bit too noisy for a dinner. Great if you're just there for drinks but when you are sitting further away from your friends, you literally can't hear them.

stickyfingers said...

Mr Stickyfingers has a group of friends with uneducated palates who love that kind of thing. To them that's a 'swish do'.

I always struggle to choose something from the menu in those places and inevitably come away feeling ripped off. Mr feels we eat better and use superior produce at home. I'd rather have a cheap meal whether Asian or wacky Honkers Fusion at bustling Star East in Glen Waverley, my local pub for a counter meal or a nice bowl of Pho, failing that some proper fine dining.

Sadly the majority of venues in Australia are of this mediocre ilk because there is a market for it. These are the same diners who think junk food is an acceptable school lunch and throw money at their kids in lieu of considered parenting.


purple goddess said...

Struggle indeed.

I find myself in the same quandary. I refuse to pay $35 for grilled fish (of questionable freshness, with chips and salad, when I could have it at home better, fresher, nicer.

**sigh indeed**

It was a work Xmas do, so I really had no say in it.

grocer said...

$11 a meal max, or $40+. anything in the middle, with a few exceptions of course, is usually disappointing.

My scale is a balance between the effort it takes to get to said establishment vs. effort (assuming ability) it takes to prepare same food with a trade off of "botheredness", "tiredness", "convenience", and necessity.

boring to many I know, but that's how i feel. If I'm going to eat amateur food, I want it to be in the comfort of my friends' homes with huge amounts of love and thoughtfulness amongst the ingredients. ALWAYS ALWAYS is better!!

Anonymous said...

Oh PG, Sad to hear your dining experience was less than first class. A great piece of reading though. So nice of you to quote me – I feel honoured. You really must try Bistro Vue some time – as you have read its excellent food at very fair prices. I have plenty more reviews to be posted on my blog in the coming days so stay tuned.
Happy eating,

Anonymous said...

I really like when people are expressing their opinion and thought. So I like the way you are writing