My mother celebrates Easter, but I do not, being a heathen much to the chagrin, oddly enough of my non-practising Hindu father (no, I don’t get it either). Mum asked if she might have dinner with me and my partner, and wanting to keep the peace whilst my father is abroad for the funeral of his sister, I of course agreed.
Mum normally likes to keep her venturing local, unless it’s for a special occasion. Thinking her preferred local eatery was closed for the religious holiday, I booked for us to eat at Wesley Anne in Northcote.
See the delightfully romantic booths in the dining area in my admittedly appalling photo? We were not seated in them. Despite it being empty, we were put on a table so that all pedestrian traffic could squeeze past our table to get at the loo or outdoors. I’ve seen it remarked on Foursquare (did I just cite Foursquare?! Yes, I’m afraid I did) that the staff seem either vacant, or just plain distracted by goodness knows what. As we waited for our entrée, we were given a small plate of bread rolls, with olive oil and balsamic. Um, is one bread plate each too much to ask, guys?
Mum and partner weren’t very hungry, so I suggested that we share the mussels in white wine amongst the three of us. Too bad it wasn’t fish or we’d have that Jesus thing down-pat (joke). Oh gosh, the mussels were very good. Partner reminded us all to save our bread to mop up the remnants of the sauce. It isn’t classy to do it, I’m sure, but I’d do it again.
I suspect by how quiet Mum and partner were that I might have chosen the best main out of the lot – the French creamy chicken and bacon pie with mash and peas. More hearty, rustic food. The mash was pretty ordinary and quite dry (seriously, I’ve better mash made by non-foodies), so I left it begrudgingly despite my mash-love but put my peas in to get the leftover pie juice. That sounds a bit wrong but it wasn’t thick enough to call sauce as such. I was tucking into my pie with such gusto that I completely forgot to try what I assume was tomato sauce, as pictured below.
Mum had the Wesley Anne’s take on chicken Maryland, which supposedly was Mexican (she said it tasted very Indian-inspired), and supposedly on pilaf. I’m a bit stumped as to why they drowned the so-called pilaf in sauce (yes, this time it’s sauce!) as that sort of ruins the fluffiness of pilaf. Mum didn’t utter a compliment once about the dish, which made me feel a little guilty about dragging her out all this way for unimpressive food. She did also note at one stage that a couple had come in and summarily inspected the menu and dashed off without ordering anything. Not a good sign. With a bit of pressing a few days later, she admitted she didn’t like her dish at all.
My partner had the pork salad, which sadly was very lacklustre. The amalgam of flavours from different cuisines suggested it didn’t quite know what it was, or what it wanted to achieve.
I am ashamed to say that the entire time here, I did not once imbibe an alcoholic beverage. Wine-lovers will appreciate the variety of the list, but I was in the mood for a decent beer and nothing took my fancy. Its atmosphere is a bit confusing: while on one hand it seems very plush and sophisticated, the service seems to indicate the contrary. It is standard practice at many pubs to help yourself to a menu and order at the counter, but that doesn’t mean that you have to forsake good customer service. There are dozens of other bars and restaurants on that strip of High St (some of my notables include the Northcote Social Club, and Kelvin). Having said all of that, because its location is 15-20 minutes out of the city, and it’s also a bike-ridable distance for me, I’d go again for a barhop especially since learning from Beer Bar Band that they had Mountain Goat Steam Ale on tap (I’m so kicking myself for not realising when I was there, sigh).
Note: photographs reproduced with kind permission of this kind fellow.