Thursday, October 22, 2009

Residential - update

Back in May I visited Residential a new kid on the Lygon Street block.

At the time I wrote:
The words that came to mind when I ate a late Sunday breakfast at Residential are “under whelmed”. I arrived at a quiet time and the large café was barely at a quarter capacity, Dur-é was hovering, a barista did his thing in an unhurried manner and two young female wait staff manned the floor. It was a low-pressure hour, yet the service was haphazard and slow. Not only my own meal, but many other patrons within view suffered from mixed up orders and drinks took a minimum of 10 minutes to be delivered.

I'm happy to say that service was not a problem on our return visit. From hurried but inefficient to perhaps a little over anxious and too much attention. Perhaps that was because the place you see was all but empty on a Wednesday evening, with only the owner tending the floor.

On the first visit I also observed:
Before Residential opened last year Dur-é Dara described it in Epicure as “a café”. Part of Residential's problem is that it is a food business that has got an identity crisis. Despite the blank canvases and acres of laminated timber, it could be a friendly neighbourhood cafe.

So has Residential ironed out those stubborn creases and transformed from a gawky cygnet into a graceful swan?

Residential – update

It’s taken awhile for us to go back to Residential, this time for dinner. The mid-week service was even quieter than the weekend brunch had been but there had been changes. It appears that the owners have taken onboard the identity issue. Gone are the weekend buffet lunches and the menu now offers a few pizzas to meet the need for in between sized meals. They are interesting too – the carnivore had pig cheeks, potato and lemon zest and it was a winner. The rest of the menu has stuck to a daily offering of two soups, a handful of entrees, mains and desserts stay.

Residential has clearly got over the “identity crisis” I mentioned earlier. Dur-é is at pains to welcome newcomers and to reiterate it’s a place for locals to pop in and call their own – whether they want an afternoon coffee, a quick pizza or work their way through three courses but something still doesn’t work. Is it the cavernous architecture? Not necessarily. The open warehouse style should work well. The problem is when the place is quiet like it was on our last visit, despite softening the lighting you feel exposed. Fill it with people, jazz up the music and the architecture would clearly not be an issue. So what about the food? The food on offer is good. It is well thought out using seasonal produce and the chef clearly knows how to execute it. The problem for me (and I own this entirely with my unusual diet) is I have so little choice. Nothing "wowed" me but omnivores may not have that issue. For vegetarians, a vegan broccoli soup was a stand out. I toyed with the idea of ordering the vegetable plate - loosely described as some delicious vegetables the chef puts together for you. However "vegetarian" and "vegetable" mean quite different things. It implied that is was only vegetables, no vegetarian proteins, nothing to leave you feeling satisfied.

So, once again I am left under whelmed, yet wanting more. I want it to work. I hope Residential get the formula right. I’m glad it doesn’t bow down to popular food choices – though no matter how excellent the corn bread is, a potato dish on the menu would never go astray. If you are a local, or passing through North Carlton, give it a go and tell me what you make of it.

Read the original post in full.

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Blogger Johanna said...

I get annoyed at vegetables as a vegetarian meal as though we just eat like a meat eater but without the meat - if they can do pig cheeks surely they can find some interesting vegetarian proteins - quinoa, puy lentils, smoked tofu?

1:08 pm  
Blogger Another Outspoken Female said...


4:00 pm  
Blogger Food lover said...

I haven't heard about this place before - will give it a try.

5:01 pm  
Anonymous pirerre cummings said...

I don't understand this at all, and i cannot agree. I ate there last week and the first thing I noticed on ths menu was the line (paraphrased) "If you are a vegetarian, let us know and we will design something for you". Ok, I hated the word 'design', but that's me. I had an excellent vegetarian meal! Roasted and grilled vegetables which were fresh, tasty and well chosen and presented. I came across this site by accident, but I think this blog is a beat-up and unfair. You may have your opinions, but they are definitely not shared by me or my partner.

12:02 am  

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