Upstairs @ The Lounge
243 Swanston Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
+61 03 9663 2916
When I was an undergrad, my uni friends and I would often enjoy cheap parmas and beer at The Lounge bar on Swanston Street. I’m not sure what then happened to the bar. I stopped hearing people talk about it and seeing bouncers stand outside it – all this led me to believe that the bar had shut down.
In 2013, however, The Lounge is back – and this time, with burgers, ribs and all the sliders you can poke at. Wait, wait! Before you groan, I promise you this will be the last slider-related post in quite some time so please work with me.
I initially thought that the bar’s name was a tribute to American actress Gloria Swanson (no T) and because I adore Sunset Boulevard, Gloria Swanston’s Kitchen received ultimate props from yours truly. Conversely, marketing collateral stated that the bar was named after American actress/model/dancer Gloria Swanston (with a T), who was born 70 years or so after the real Gloria Swanson. Confused much? Yeah, so was I. Despite all that, Matt and I were keen as beans to check out what our hangout had now become so we decided to have dinner there one night.
Gloria Swanson’s menu is full of exciting dishes from the tortilla lasagne to the ‘kick ass’ beef burger. Due to the choices (and perhaps the very dim lighting), it took us a while to work our way through the menu. In the end, we decided to share a starter and go one main each.
We shared some mac & cheese balls, a seemingly regular feature in Melbourne’s dining circuit (but for good reason – they’re good, OKAY!). This version was served with a lovely bacon aioli that was advertised as ‘spicy’ but I did not detect even the slightest amount of heat.
I swear, I order this dish all the friggin’ time at other places. It’s probably about time I start making my own.
Matt loves his sliders and given that he’s a bit of a muso, the Howlin’ Wolf beef sliders seemed like an appropriate choice. They were filled with lettuce, tomato, pickles, cheese and house sauce and served with crinkle cut fries. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to sample one but Matt assured me that they were great.
I can never go past ribs – especially ribs that are only $20! – so my choice was obvious. In hindsight, however, I should have probably gone for the kick ass burger (the American waiter later told us that out of all the items on the menu, this particular burger was the closest he’s had in Melbourne to a legit American burger) but oh well. While my ribs weren’t terrible, they would have done with a little more sauce and a little more tenderness. Plus, the slaw was very bland – more sauce, please! That said, it’s hard to find non-sucky ribs for $20 so this dish does represent good value if you’re feeling like ribs.
Despite my slightly underwhelming ribs and despite the lighting that reminded me of that Prague episode of Scam City, I would not hesitate to return. The staff are friendly, the service is quick and there are plenty of other enticing options on the menu – all those, I believe, warrant a second visit. Oh, and apparently they do $10 lunches during the week – like I can say no to that.