Corner of Clarendon Street and Crown Riverside
Southbank VIC 3006
+61 3 9292 7468
I always look forward to having post-work dinners with my friend, Matt. But because he’s a lawyer with virtually no social life to speak of, it’s often hard to arrange an evening that suits us both. Thankfully we were both free one Wednesday night so we agreed to meet up. Now, the plan was to visit Melbourne’s new fromagerie but the hectic traffic out of the city scared us into staying away from the roads, at least for a few hours.
Matt parked his car at Crown that day so the most logical choice was to go to a restaurant in the casino. When it came to deciding which restaurant to choose, we both looked at each other and said, ‘The Merrywell’ at the same time. Now I’d never been to the American diner-slash-gastropub but I really wanted to go. Meanwhile, Matt had been twice already and because he loved it so much, he was keen to go again.
We rocked up in the middle of the dinner peak so tables were harder to come by than a decent coffee in the US. Luckily, there was a spare table on the balcony so we happily squeezed in underneath the heated lamps. We were immediately given a drinks menu and although the cocktail list was impressive enough, we both decided to skip the alcohol because we’re such squares these days.
Now, I had heard wonderful things about The Merrywell’s many burgers from their simple cheese burgers to their BBQ burgers. To my horror, I only saw one burger on the Merrywell menu – and one that contained pork belly. While I like pork belly as much as the next Asian, I really did want a simple no-nonsense beef burger. The closest thing that fitted that description were the mini wagyu burgers which was featured on the starters menu and came in threes. I asked the waitress if they and a side dish were enough to fill a person up and her response was, ‘no.’ I didn’t listen to her so I went ahead and ordered them anyway.
We started off with some onion rings with lemon rosemary aioli ($12), a side that Matt strongly recommended. The onions rings were beautifully light, crispy and golden and we loved the herb-y and creamy aioli with very slight hints of piquancy.
These chips ($14) were my sides. I expected them to be the hand-cut variety so I was surprised to see that they looked the way they did, all round and whatnot. I wasn’t sure I liked them (I prefer mine long and straight, thanks) but I did like the bacon aioli that came with it. Mmm bacon.
Here are my mini wagyu burgers ($19). Each little burger came with white cheddar, caramelised onions and pickles. They were nice enough but I thought the beef patties were way too pepper-y and spoilt the burgers’ overall flavour.
Meanwhile, Matt ordered the dish called ‘our fried chicken’ ($27), having loved it the first time he had it a month or so ago. The dish contained something called ‘125th Street chicken’ (a nod to Harlem?) and on the side, chocolate waffles and ‘killer bee honey.’ Chicken, waffles and honey on the same plate? It was weird but damn, it worked. Really well. The chicken pieces were out-of-this world crispy and drizzled with sticky honey, they were incredible. And if the dish wasn’t heart attack-inducing enough, there was a blob of lemon cream on the side. Matt, who doesn’t eat big portions these days, couldn’t finish his chicken – but that was okay because that’s what I was there for.
It was a busy Wednesday night at The Merrywell but I reckoned the service was pretty good (until the point where we asked for the bill and they seemed to forget about us) and the food, fantastic. I later found out that there The Merrywell is made up of two sections, one called ‘Downstairs’ and one called ‘Upstairs.’ We just happened to sit upstairs whereas the downstairs section was more casual and had the entire burger range to choose from. D’oh.
My burgers might not have been the best I’ve ever had but that’s not going to stop me from returning. I enjoyed the onion rings and thought that Matt’s daring chicken dish was amazing. Plus, there were so many things on the menu that I wanted to try. Mac and cheese balls and Philly cheesesteaks, anyone?