Meatworks Co, South Melbourne

Good fitout, good service but the food needs a little tweaking over at Meatworks Co. It has the right meat qualities of a BBQ joint but not the aspect where you get full. We had a extra large group in for lunch and the staff did a great job co-ordinating all the meals. But serving sizes, so so small. A few of the guys had to get some extra snacks on the way back to the office to be full so that wasn’t as ideal. Meatworks lives up to the name and the meat options are all legit in terms of quality. The vegetarian options weren’t as satisfying for the crowd that ordered the chilli tofu option, but everything else got thumbs up from those who stuck to the recommendations.

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Nestled away in a quieter part of South Melbourne, Meatworks was an easy choice of venue for our sizeable group and still offers one of the best seating options this side of town. The industrial, former garage space is light and airy for a quaint afternoon. South Melbourne of course, does already boast a high ratio of other eating establishments, many with great value lunch options. It’s fair but some of the lunch options felt too miniature. Above is the Meatworks Spring salad ($12) with rocket, tomato, onion and torn pork.

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My dish was one of the lunch specials, which are priced at $12. This is a smoked pulled beef brisket pita wrap with house slaw, tomato, and chipotle mayo. Although the menu does specify a little side of fries the quantity here is quite laughable. Also, they’re really short fries. The pita wrap isn’t huge and with options like Ela-Re, the value ratio isn’t as good. The brisket is yum though.

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Juan’s transitioning into a part-time vegetarian and went with one of the few meat-free options in the spicy silken tofu ($14.50). This came with smoked pumpkin, zucchini, roasted spiced peanuts, shallots, coriander and chilli sauce. It’s a pretty dish, with a lot of flavours and textures contrasting but he found it on the bland side with the dish not feeling substantial enough for a lunch main. At it’s core a few slices of garnished tofu isn’t enough for our bellies.

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Quite a few of the crowd had the smoked torn pork burger ($15.50) with pork, dill pickles, melted Swiss cheese, chipotle, mayonnaise and house slaw in a milk bun. Not the cheapest burger around, but the meat was juicy, tender and highly delectable. So overall, we are fans of the meat at Meatworks, but with so much choice around it’s not quite as good in terms of bang for buck.

6/10

Meatworks Co. Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

O’Connell’s Hotel, South Melbourne

We were treated to a fine lunch with work partners over at O’Connell’s Hotel. The South Melbourne restaurant provides a surprisingly cosy setting with top notch serve and well prepared cuisine. From the outside it looks like your typical gastropub affair but inside the menu and decor confirm it’s a decadent and high quality experience. We all enjoyed our cuisine on this afternoon and O’Connell’s Hotel makes for a great choice for an extended lunch venue.

Only a short stroll from the office, the restaurant portion of O’Connell’s is extensive and busy. On this Friday afternoon most of the tables had diners and staff and kitchen were all in order over the course of our service. We shared a number of the appetisers across the table, including the Coffin Bay Oysters ($20), Arancini ($10) and Cauliflower fritters ($10). As we were a large group, the duration of the meal hinged on the long-side but these snacks had us content for a while. All items were well presented and most importantly, tasty.

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We went our seperate ways for the main course, with one of the most popular (and arguable more successful) of the dishes being the confit Pork belly ($36). It’s served with an apple slaw, fragrant rice and a pork scratching. I didn’t try this one myself, but the guys rated it.

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My dish was for the braised saltbush lamb ($36) with soft polenta, broccoli and braising juices. The meat was wonderfully tender but couldn’t help feeling there wasn’t quite the richness of flavour I was hoping for in the dish. All items were well presented and I still was happy with the dish by all means. We didn’t quite get to spend as long as we would have liked at O’Connell’s (i.e. the whole afternoon) but overall it was a well managed, high quality dining experience.

7.5/10

O'Connell's Hotel South Melbourne Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Paco Y Lola, South Melbourne

In spite of protest, I was summoned back to South Melbourne for a first-of-the-year lunch with the old ex-colleagues. Almost all of the team in the office, minus the social team, who weren’t that social. Paco Y Lola was our choice and we all had a helping from different parts of the modern Mexican street food menu.

I was quietly impressed with my first-time order of the sopes with chili Colorado beef and most of the food sat well with the guys. The sopes were a generous serve, and is a DIY affair so there’s a bit of fun to be had in composing your tasty creations. Cocktails and other dishes were fair, and we felt mostly well looked after, save a bit of pain for the group size and no split bills. Nice sunny spot for lazy afternoon dining.

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Mint, watermelon and gin sounded like an irresistible start for the afternoon and I happily slurped my way through this cooler whilst attempting to survive the heat. Decent drink but a little more potency would have been nice.

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We shared a few serves of the corn chips ($6) and these are fine. Slightly broken shapes, but the chips were freshly fried and had a good seasoning. The guac side here is very blended so not the chunky style I might have been anticipating. Was okay for me.

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A few of the ladies went for the burrito ($13/$14)option, this being one of the options that you can also get takeaway from the barbeque stall. These are fine but I prefer the fresh burritos as the melty cheese and sour cream can sometimes make for a messy eat.

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And onto my sopes ($18). I ordered these not exactly knowing what they would be, and was rewarded with a great dish. Sopes are made from a Mexican corn flour and is served with beans, meat, cheese and salsa. I composed my sopes taking a cup of the shaped corn, which was light and crisp. Then a generous heaping of meat mix, topped with slaw before plonking into the mouth.

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Another fancy looking dish was Lucy and Jadon’s Mexican pork ribs ($20) in housemade BBQ sauce and served with side salad. Angle my be deceptive, this is also another well-sized meal.

We overspent a good lunch break with Paco y Lola and the relaxed setting made for a perfect setting for the drinks and flavourful eating. Being a big group we had a massive painpoint when it came to clearing the bill (due to not being able to split bills) and a dozen media professionals had to rack their brains to work it all out.

8/10 (ignoring the split bill pain).

Paco Y Lola Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wok This Way, South Melbourne

Got our group together for a lunch date over at Wok This Way. Cheap pricing and various asian cuisines are featured in the menus of this venue in South Melbourne. We ordered online for the ease and free bonus prawn crackers but ended up eating at the store due to immediacy of hungriness. All dishes were around the ten dollar mark and short of me, noone else was close to finishing their orders. No frills but great portions and the flavours across the dishes were nice too. The menu itself is huge and across so many styles. Not sure if everything is as equally good but we were more than content with our choices. In the food, and life.

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7/10

Wok This Way Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Ilya Health Bar, South Melbourne

We noticed a new store taking over the former About Yoghurt premises and just like that, Ilya Health bar came into our office lives. We popped in a few times before the end of the year, as I was hooked enough from the first visit. The range of flavours and toppings is a bit more limited than other froyo options, with one of the machines out both times we visited. I had a taste of everything in the end (staff are as friendly with their samples here) and I quite liked the chocolately one. With one Elsternwick store under their belt, I do hope they keep expanding as bit more desserts in life always makes for some healthy competition.

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7/10

Ilya Health Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Meetbowl, South Melbourne

Most of the office tends to give Meetbowl a miss, but I’m glad I checked out it with the food a nice change from the usual. Offering authentic and possibly too authentic Indonesian cuisine – it has a no frills feel with street food-styled offerings. It does get a bit of a crowd despite the mixed rap, though could do with a bit more happening in the ambience (even noise). My order was for the Nasi Campur, guided slightly by the reports of some of the offerings being MSG-heavy and was all content with what I ended up getting.

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The food takes no time to arrive at all, though some of the components are already cooked and waiting so aren’t super fryer fresh. True to the street styling in that sense, but doesn’t quite do the food justice here. I enjoyed all the pieces on the plate, and it’s a good little mix of meat. It’s a triangulation of pork with BBQ pork, a fried pork ball, and a pork satay skewer. All the meat was decently good, and I wasn’t too thirsty afterwards (mainly from the sauce on the rice I think). Nothing groundbreaking but a fair option for something on the scale of more traditional Indonesian in South Melbs.

6.5/10

Meetbowl Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Palace Hotel, South Melbourne

We hiked over to the Palace Hotel for a gigantic team group lunch. The staff did a great job of co-ordinating dishes across the twenty-plus sized squad, and the quality of the fare was well, fair. The place has a great, buzzy vibe on our Friday afternoon and it’s clear to see it’s a favourite with the locals. Not necessarily worth heading in solely for the food, but definitely the atmosphere at The Palace Hotel is a good one to be in.

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The exterior of the pub-cum-restaurant is unassuming so it’s a bit of a surprise just how big the place is when you step in. There’s practically three-ish areas for you to dine, in which there all have their own, unique feel. We were outside in the courtyard with a dominating gigantic long table seating and plenty of space should our voices echo. And they sure did after a few drinks too. We probably didn’t do ourselves any favours with the slow ordering from our side, with dishes all across the board. Adi had the Pizza ($13) with leek, blue cheese, walnuts and olive oil as pictured above.

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My order was for the bangers and mash dish (around the $20 mark) which featured two hearty sausages and a lake of rich, meaty gravy. I enjoyed the gravy although may have preferred it served on the side. It didn’t quite have the balance I was after, I would have been happy with less sausage, more potato, or maybe just different treatment of the gravy. All flavours on the plate were fine and by all means a good level of lunch and left the bar full of food (and booze).

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The star of the orders was most likely in the steaks. As media people who don’t often get publisher jollies, there were plenty of steak orders on the table. The 3oogram Porterhouse steak ($30) was served with salad and chips or mash and vege as well as a sauce of the diner’s choosing. The mash was tasty and creamy and the steaks were all served correct to order with glowing remarks from those who ordered. A good little (big) pub spot for a pint as well as decent pub cuisine. A perfect drinking hole for those in the neighbourhood.

7/10

The Palace Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Beatbox Kitchen @ South Melbourne Market

Check out Beatbox Kitchen’s burgers, dropping at a market or event-thing near you. Solid offering and decent value at $12 for the Raph burger make for a sweet addition to the foodscape here. The boys and I headed down for a lunchtime pickup, with the burgers served quick from the truck. We all ended up getting the beef option. Toasty buns to a t, a good helping of salad and tender, juicy meat. The accompanying liquid here is their house blend “stereo sauce”. This made for a tangy mayo sauce taste which I enjoyed and I thought went well with the rest of the components. Nice clean, burger save for the meat juice drips.

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The only slight qualm is that the back of the bun was a bit on the sog-side of things. I’d  suggest giving it a good rotate or digesting on the double. Not a difficult request by any means, these are delicious burgers. I stole half of Anthony’s fries and these were also good. Great sides, super tender meat and plenty of it, fresh ingredients – that’s music to my ears. Beatbox Kitchen is tops.

8/10

Beatbox Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

N. Lee Bakery Cafe, South Melbourne

I ended up spending a surprising amount of time with N. Lee Bakery Cafe on Clarendon Street. A short stroll from the desk. How can you say no to freshly baked bread, savoury meat rolls, delightful pastries and generally great value? One of the lunch options with a constant queue (not that the final wait is ever that considerable, mind you) these meat rolls are a real people pleaser. I typically go for the Grilled Pork Banh Mi ($7.50). All Banh Mis have a similar treatment including the likes of salad, pate, butter and sauces.

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The bread as well as the various pastries are all baked in house and N.Lee delivers some of the best rolls around. The sweet options are nothing to be sneezed at and I’ve enjoyed a donut or croissant on the odd occasion as well. The banh mis are where its at for me, and if pork isn’t your thing, there’s also chicken, tofu and the fried chicken schnitzel and kebab options as well. The latter two are served warm and crunchy making for a nice contrast of textures.

I never ended up trying the crispy pork banh mi that’s only available on Fridays but the office mill says they are good as well. A super solid lunch option for under the ten dollar mark, and the rolls are entirely filling as well.

8/10

N. Lee Bakery Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Shakahari Too, South Melbourne

After some fantastic eating at Shakahari, I was extra keen to check out their newest location in Clarendon Street of South Melbourne. Shakahari Too is somewhat hidden away with a venue that is surprisingly tranquil and peaceful once you step inside. We ended up feeling relaxed and we were treated to a meal befitting of the quality of its sister store. As such, it’s one worth checking out especially for vegetarians of which the menu is fully.

Catalina and I made an effort to check the place out for our final work lunch together. We each had the $15 lunch special and this emulates the most successful of the Shakahari dishes. You get the same freshness and vibrancy but less on the portion size (relative to the price). I could have done with a little more on the plate for my appetite but I still walk out with another entirely satisfactory experience.

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Whilst I’m not sure if the lunch special is a new thing, it definitely helps as it’s a lot more palatable at the fifteen dollar mark. Cata’s choice was my recommendation of the satay Shakahari, here singular with a serve of the baobob rice gnocchi and side of steamed veges, pickles and leaves. She enjoyed the satay as much as I did and the plate was cleaned up easily. I love the mix of colours on the dish and it made for an appealing and guilt-free lunch.

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My order was for the Curry enak enak. This is a Malaysian-styled curry of mixed vegetables cooked in a coconut stock and served with lentil dhal, pickles and pappadum. I would have appreciated a little more grease on the pappadum for that guilty, crispy bite I was after and maybe could have done without the salad but everything else on the plate was fantastic. The curry was fragrant and mild, with a good medley of veges and an enjoyable spiced rice. I also cleaned up nicely here. Shakahari Too offers such a pleasant vibe and the two of us headed back to the office feeling refreshed inside and out.

8/10

Shakahari Too Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato