98 Chapel St, Windsor
I really wanted to like Hawker Hall. I liked the premise, it has great pedigree, and the vibe on entry was bustling. We had to wait over an hour for a table but the service was very fast once we were seated. Unfortunately that where things started to come unstuck. We ordered the chefs menu at $55 each. We were feed a succession of dishes until we were stuffed. However not one of those dishes was particularly good and at worst were barely edible. The presentation was also fairly rough, although I guess it’s supposed to be street food inspired.
The charcoal chicken in particular tasted primarily of charcoal rather than chicken and this dish was left unfinished.
The multiple wait staff dealing with our table also started to get confused and brought us dishes we’d already had on multiple occasions.
With Windsor already having more than its fair share of great Asian restaurants I can’t see myself returning to Hawker Hall in a hurry – and that’s the shame, what a missed opportunity. I have no doubt the restaurant will be financially successful for some time due to the Chris Lucas buzz and high clientele turnover in the area but I’m not sure it will be based on the merits of the restaurant.
97 Chapel St, Windsor
Replacing the now shuttered Thai restaurant Ayatana, Fat Monk doesn’t seem to have fallen into the same trap of focusing on food to the detriment of vibe and decor. It’s a warm welcoming environment in matte black and kitsch murals. They also win an award for the best/worst puns in their dish names. We selected ‘Hit Me Baby One More Thai’m’ and ‘Thai Hard’. We kicked off with some tiger prawn spring rolls and some chicken steamed buns. Both were excellent and nicely presented.
The ‘Hit Me Baby One More Thai’m’ was a chu che barramundi and stir fried panang curry. The ‘Thai Hard’ was Thai sweet basil and chilli with crispy pork belly. The barramundi was definitely the better of the two dishes and I would highly recommend it. The pork belly was very spicy and the pork was a little on the dry side. They need to Thai a little harder with this dish.
Oddly missing from the dine in menu was the quite extensive curry list that is on the takeaway menu so I’m guessing any of these would be available if requested. They can also provide delivery if required.
76 Chapel St, Windsor
After eating here a couple of times before and being very impressed with the food, this visit took the shine off just a little. We ordered a starter of steamed rice skin pork dumplings to share. The menu said there were five pieces in a serve but they delivered us six so we could split them evenly which was nice. The dumpling skins seemed quite soggy though and there was very little pork taste as the peanuts over powered any other flavours.
For mains I ordered the beef massaman curry and my friend ordered the chicken pad gatium, which a stir fry with onions, garlic and pepper sauce. The actual massaman curry sauce was delicious but the beef was quite dry. The pad gatium was a good sized helping however the garlic and onion flavours were quite potent.
The meal wasn’t particularly bad but I’d had much nicer from here previously. Hopefully it’s not indicative of dropping standards. On the plus side, they are licenced now and the Singha is on tap 🙂
217 Chapel St , Prahran
I’ve wandered past here many times but never gone in before. This time the drinks specials including $5 beers all day every day sold me on trying it for dinner. As it turns out this is a bit of a false pretense. After seeing patrons outside imbibing large glasses of Budvar, I was under the impression that this would be the beer in question, not the 300ml pot of dark lager of unknown origin that was presented. $5 a pot is not a bargain by any stretch.
Ruby Tuesdays has a street facing bar to sit at, as well as street furniture, and couches and tables inside. The decor is fairly random to say the least. Ochre coloured paint on the walls out the front, animal print panels on the roof, a blue upholstered bar, and dark tiles and mirrors on the other wall.
I grabbed a couple of the hand drawn and colourful menus from the bar. Somebody obviously likes their arts and crafts. One side listed a number of tapas style meals such as pan-fried haloumi, chili mussels, and carpaccio. The other side listed meals in four sections; pasta and risotto; mains; char-grilled beef; and salads. I went for the North Indian Chicken Curry and my friend went for the Penne Salmon and Avocado.
After we ordered, a table out on the street became available so we grabbed it. The couch style seating at the table inside was not really conducive to eating at. When the food arrived it was nicely presented. The helping of penne was large and it tasted good, although it had a slightly odd smokey taste to it. The curry however, was not a particularly large helping. On the menu it said it was served with rice, yoghurt and pappadams. When it arrived there was a small serve of rice and two unidentified globules, one orange and one grey. Possibly the orange one had some yoghurt in it but the grey one definitely wasn’t pappadams. That said, they were both quite tasty and accompanied the curry well. The curry was mild but very flavourful, and the chicken fell off the bone, however there wasn’t enough rice to go with it and I was still hungry at the end of it.
The meal and general experience was pretty good – however there was nothing special about it would have me running back here soon.
One tip, the bar/restaurant doesn’t have a toilet but instead uses the common toilet in the basement of the arcade next door. If you have to use it, be prepared to be reminded of a New York subway toilet in the mid-80s. And girls, it’s unisex so there are urinals in there that may be being used by guys. And it’s probably best not to go down there alone with the owner. He was acquitted of raping a patron in 2010 but you can’t be too careful.