535 Little Lonsdale Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
+61 3 9602 2228
With so much happening in my life, I often wonder where I get the time to blog on a semi-regular basis. With work, uni, nagging family members, a semblance of a social life and a demanding new boyfriend all asking for a piece of Libby, I’m surprised that I haven’t suffered a quarter-life crisis. Luckily for me, my
lovely and caring whipped bff-turned-boyfriend-and-occasional-punching-bag, Martin (who trolls this blog as ‘Martypants’), was more than happy to take over blogging duties this weekend so that you guys would have something to read. So here it is, the first ever guest post on this blog and Martin’s first piece of writing since the exam invigilator shouted, ‘Pens down!’ at his very last VCE exam:
“When your esteemed author asked me to guest-write this post for all you foodies (or whatever you call yourselves) out there in Caterpillar-land, I thought to myself, ‘I’m no writer!’ Hell, I don’t even know what an adverb or a noun is, and a post about food, no less? Pfft, I grew up in Melton South (Melbourne’s outer west for those of you unfortunate enough to know); I drank Coca-Cola for breakfast and ate uncooked Maggi two-minute noodles and fish & chips from the shop next to the train station (V/Line baby, wo0t!). What the fudge would I know about ‘hatted’ restaurants, foie gras and the delicate understated importance of truffle oil quality?
Sorry, let me introduce myself to you all. For those of you who follow/stalk our lovely Libby’s blog, I am the one she refers to as “Marty-the-Queenslander”, Libby’s confidante and sometimes friend (of sorts. xx).
So when Libby, the Sid to my Nancy* asked me to showcase my writing steez (or lack thereof) and “just give it a shot,” the Vietnamese/Queenslander in me didn’t want to disappoint. And so the restaurant I’ll be ranting about is the already-more-eloquently-covered-previously, but perennial favourite of ours: City Grill Room.
*(Note: I switch these roles around only because she is much more likely to be the one who ends up stabbing me to death, first!)
Now, despite the fact that there is a Squire’s Loft restaurant (same licensor) at the Robina Town Centre in Queensland (represent!), steak and ribs are, indeed, a ritual on my annual visits to Melbourne. So during the first week of the trip in this melting pot of a city spent getting Charlie Sheen-faced, squandering hard-earned money at CROWN (I am Vietnamese, after all!) and trying to remember how to do hook-turns again, my very attractive bff Libby calls me up in her business-like fashion; “Friday. City Grill Room. Are you still coming, idiot? It’s on the house.”
Did she just say ON THE HOUSE? Get out of town! Then I collapse in a heap after four days of literally zero sleep.
It’s now Friday night and after a pre-dinner pint (or three), we make our way down to Little Lonsdale Street with Libby giggling and kicking leaves along way. The cosmopolitan streets of Melbourne were beautifully littered with autumn leaves in the month of May, something we don’t see in Surfers or Brisbane, but it was quite a pretty sight combined with the gorgeously mild chill of the evening. Not that you inner-city trendy, hipster Melbournians appreciate it, none.
Upon arrival we are greeted by the manager, Hayley, to the familiarly cosy atmosphere and rustic décor. Our appetites well and truly worked up, the ever-friendly Hayley led us to our seats next to the bar and had a chat with Libby about blogs and business and even smiled politely when I tried, feebly, to tune her (What? She was hot!). Smooth, Martin, smooth. She then proceeded to bring us our slices of soft, crusty, warm sourdough bread and pats of butter served on a plank of wood (What is it with Melbourne restaurants and planks? What a bunch of plankers!). After presenting us the wine list, Hayley left Libby and me to our graces whilst we sipped on a sipped on a shiraz, each (Libby didn’t take notes because she was too busy checking me out the whole night instead, so blame her!) whilst waiting for our food to arrive.
For entrées, Libby and I shared a plate of “pork spare ribs: marinated in City Grill Room baste then char-grilled, 500gm” as it reads on the menu. Now if you have yet to experience the juicy melt-in-your-mouth tenderness of the fall-off-the-bone rib meat lightly doused in that unique tangy, spicy “City Grill Room baste”, then OMFG what the FUDGE are you waiting for, fools?!?! In my circles, these have become the gold standard of kick-arse ribs. I even stole some of Libby’s. You snooze, you lose!
Next up, we each had a 200gm eye fillet, cooked rare, mine and Libby’s favourite cut. We have tried others over the years from the porterhouse, scotch to the T-bone respectively, but always came back to the eye fillet. These steaks are, again, “flavoured with City Grill Room baste” which gave it that signature tang. For sides Libby got a salad (in place of chips or a baked potato) accompanied with a mushroom sauce. I got the chips with the Danish blue cheese sauce. Over the years I’d found that out of the sauces (mushroom, black pepper, mustard, B.B.Q., creamy garlic, green pepper and Danish blue cheese at $4.50 each) mushroom was the best, personally speaking. But alas, I went with the very rich and very pungent Danish blue cheese yet again. Why? I’m not sure. I guess I keep expecting it to be better the next time I try it, kind of like clubbing at Red Love on a Friday night. You come back week after week expecting better music and talent only to be let down. Only slightly though. Nevertheless, the steaks are everything one would want it to be: tender, juicy and tasty as hell, minus the pomposity of the more expensive steakhouses out there, such as Rockpool and light years better than the steak options you’d get at a typical family restaurant such as La Porchetta.
In conclusion, the City Grill Room is a restaurant and dining experience that I would recommend anyone to try at least once. Hell, we’ve only written like a million reviews on the place already. Well, okay, we’ve written about three. But with the cosy, rustic décor that’s never tacky or the warm friendly service and the food that speaks for itself, one would be hard-pressed to have a bad experience at the City Grill Room. An experience nearly as good as the company I kept that night with all our textbook taurus woman/pisces man banter. Libby didn’t even complain that the toilet facilities were out of order that night and subsequently sent by Hayley half way to the other side of the city to, presumably, go pee down an alleyway somewhere! We left with full stomachs, seen off by Hayley and feeling satisfied as always. Then it was off to spend the rest of Friday night bar hopping. Match Bar & Grill, perhaps? But that’s a whole different story.
I hope you have enjoyed reading my ill-structured article, lame-os.
Libby and Martin attended dinner as guests of Hayley and her team at City Grill Room.