Crown, Southbank (West End)
Wow, isn’t American food popular at the moment? I don’t know if it’s Man vs Food inspiring everyone, or what, but the number of interesting places we have to go and eat American-style food is multiplying exponentially in Melbourne.
Just to croak in a quavery, sort of old 28 year old voice: “I remember, little one, when you could only go to TGI Fridays at Doncaster for a take on this kind of food…”
TGIF has its place, but what’s so exciting about the new crop of restaurants is that they’re all subtly different, and some are attacking soul food, some are attacking American barbecue (hello Third Wave!) and some are just plain delicious pig out spots. Merrywell at Crown is well placed to capitalise on the latter.
Trap for young players: Merrywell is a vast place and stretches over two levels in the west end of the Crown complex. I was actually trying to take us to the burger bar at Merrywell, where apparently they have a huge range of gourmet burgers and sandwiches (eg Philly steak and the like), but we stumbled into the upstairs and were seated before we knew it.
The menu is different to what we normally have (and priced at an eyewatering nearly $30 a plate for the mains which – let’s face it – are just the American version of pub classics) and we soon settled on an adventurous order of chicken and waffles for Mr Behemoth, and the BLT Sam-wich for myself, PLUS an order of jalapeno poppers to share because I really, really wanted to try them.
The BLT sandwich was insane. I don’t think I really understood what I was getting into from the menu, which specified “bacon, porchetta, pancetta, rocket, a sunny side up egg, aioli”. I was unaware that porchetta actually meant a huge slice of pork, I think I had mentally mixed it up with pancetta and just figured it was similar. The BLT came in an open faced monster and while tasty, after a while it all tasted the same and I really struggled to get through it. Ended up leaving a fair amount on my plate.
I really really loved the beer battered jalapeno poppers ($13) – fried to crispy perfection, stuffed with smooth cream cheese and served with a decadent ranch dipping sauce which must have been SO heavy on the mayo. Essentially this order was heart attack on a plate. I’ve wanted to try jalapeno poppers ever since I saw them in the freezer at Costco but didn’t buy them, and now my curiosity has been sated. Not an every day food, boys and girls, but a must try at least once.
Chicken and waffles as a concept (I learnt this from Man vs Food the other day) arose from the thought of having both dinner and dessert on the same plate. I’m not sure about the salty sweet combo that North Americans seem to love – see bacon/maple syrup on pancakes of a morning. Just not sure.
Mr B enjoyed his meal though, being a fried chicken fanatic, and even though he hates honey (even “killer bee honey” as the menu stated) managed to mop up a fair amount of the waffles as well. When asked for a review he said he was unlikely to order it again but he’s happy he tried it at least once (a bit of a theme emerging throughout this post?).
Service was fine, and the place is very dark, hence the poor quality of my photos above. I’d like to return to try out one of the gourmet burgers on the ground floor, and at least I know there’s a place at Crown which could cater to a lot of different tastes and provide some interesting new tastes and experiences (AND absorb a fair amount of booze, which, if you’re like me, is the only way you accidentally end up at Crown in the first place).
If you want to read other takes on The Merrywell, I particularly liked Bryan’s of Let’s Get Fat Together, who dined in the same part of the pub as I did but ordered a wider variety of dishes (and, like me, wants to go try out the gourmet burger bar next time).
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