446 City Road
South Melbourne VIC 3205
03 9682 9119
Open: Everyday 11am til late
So, the Station Hotel in Footscray has a new little sister – the Wayside Inn. I’m not entirely sure how the relationship works – all I know is that recently, when dining at the Station Hotel, we received a voucher for a complimentary bottle of wine in return for checking out the Wayside Inn. Well, if the food at the Station Hotel is anything to go by – then I was all for it – and I barely even needed the complimentary wine (although it was a great sweetener). So, most excellent friends R & T were dragged along as accomplices to help us see if the little sister measured up.
Sitting along the main thoroughfare of City Road – the Wayside Inn is an interesting location. It’s a fairly non-descript strip bereft of too much cultural interest. However, it’s what’s inside that counts – and the Inn has been beautifully renovated and fitted out with some stunning decor. Given it was a sort-of sunny (a typical Melbourne) day – we opted to try our luck in the courtyard – especially as we are finding it a bit rare to find alfresco dining in a city where 75% of our weather is unpredictable! Strange that….
We perused the menu and made our choices – we were definitely going for entrees and mains – especially when we saw the offerings! One of the intriguing menu items was a daily changing rotisserie meat – with today’s being organic lamb. At least 2 of us were having that one… but I get ahead of myself….
Instead of the complimentary bottle of house wine – we opted to pay a very small increment to upgrade to a beautiful NZ pinot noir – ahhh… life doesn’t get much better than an “almost” free bottle of wine.
Not the most appetising name for a dish, but I looked beneath the moniker and worked out that they must have been referring to some rendition of steak tartare – and I was right. This was an interesting mix – you’ll notice no egg on top (not a good start). The steak was certainly fresh and a good quality, but the flavouring was a little one dimensional. I’m afraid I still prefer the traditional style…
The lovely R ordered the parfait – and I have to say it was the dish of the night. It was light, creamy, fragrant and rich – it had a real perfumed sweatness to it that was gorgeous. However, it was a huge serve. I had to help her out – there was no way any of this parfait gold was going to waste….
The lovely T had the entree special, which was smoked salmon and home made blinis. The salmon was generously scattered with capers, red onion, and gorgeous olive oil. The blinis were actually like mini crumpets – the only downside was that they seemed to be drenched in residual oil. In fact, if my memory serves me correctly, T may have left a couple…
My other half, Andrew, ordered the cured meats – he loves salami and this plate came with quite a selection. It included: wagyu salami, fennel and pork sausage, and another salami. All the salamis were fairly distinctive, which he enjoyed. What he didn’t really enjoy was the “crispy bits” – so the lovely R and I took one for the team and decided to finish it off for him. There was fried pig’s ear – not too bad; a head cheese croquette – not too bad (it was fairly meaty – so I’m talking myself into the possibility that it was mainly cheek rather than other unmentionables); and a sweetbread croquette – not too bad if I closed my eyes, but I didn’t and I accidentally spied something that looked suspiciously like an organ…. shudder. I still ate it – but I think we’ve confirmed that I’m not really an “offal girl”.
As I mentioned before, each day of the week, the Inn has a different rotisserie offering. Today’s was organic lamb, which the lovely T and I both ordered. It was beautiful, but I guess I was expecting it to be a bit more meltingly tender – like what you get from a great greek BBQ where they have lamb on the spit. This was more like roast lamb. The jus was drop dead fantastic though – it was perfectly seasoned. The roast vegetables were lovely, and the roasted garlic cloves gave the dish a real lift.
There was a great selection of steaks on the menu – both grain and grass fed – so both R and Andrew opted to try them out. Unfortunately, they came to the table a little overdone- although R expected this and ordered accordingly, so got exactly what she wanted. She’s a cunning one…
One of the strange things was that the wait staff didn’t encourage us to order sides – and they were needed. Look at that plate… how bare is it? So, we belatedly put in an order for some fries – which came about halfway through our meals. Thankfully, they were quick – but really they should have been recommended.
Thankfully we’d left enough room for dessert…
This dessert was suitably intense with chocolate, although slightly grainy on the tongue. The caramelised figs were very sweet – so overall, the dish may have benefited from some creme fraiche to counteract the sweetness and mellow out the dish. However, on the whole it was pretty amazingly good.
However… this was the dessert of the night. Mavellously wobbly, it melted in the mouth into smooth creaminess. Speckled with vanilla it was a beautiful consistency. The raspberries perfectly complemented the creaminess. I’d have to say – this dessert, and the chicken liver parfait were definitely the dishes of the night! I would return just to have these two things again!!
Overall, we enjoyed the food at the Wayside Inn – but not as much as other places we’ve tried. On the evening we went – it was fairly empty which probably detracted a bit from the ambience – after all, you like a pub to be fairly busy and happening. Perhaps it’s just not quite to the level of maturity and complexity of its older sister yet – the Wayside Inn may need some time to settle in, find its own groove, and begin to foster a reputation for delivering consistently good food. Let’s hope the Southbank and South Melbourne locals take to it as much as Footscray locals have taken to the older sister.
In terms of budget, we spent $282 for 2 couples – even if you take into account that we had $35 towards our bottle of wine, it’s not bad for three courses each. My only advice would be to remember to order chips or sides with your mains because they need something extra. If you’re a local – the Wayside Inn is definetely worth checking out – you never know – it could be become one of your favourite watering holes.