Saturday, January 13, 2007

January 12, 2007: Wesley Anne

Although we'd been intending to pay Northcote a visit for some time, it took an interesting gig posting for Michael and I to get as far as a northward-bound number 86 tram. The gig would begin early, 8pm, and a quick look at the venue website indicated that we could order dinner on site. With hopes not stretching beyond a quick pub feed before squashing into a smoke-filled nook near the stage, Wesley Anne proved to be quite a find! A church in a former life, the bar area has a high corrugated roof and unfinished walls. The rollicking atmosphere was led by an improvising duo on piano and drums, and supported by the cheerful chatter of a few dozen patrons sitting and standing around the bar. A little further back, an almost intimate dinner is possible in a confessional-turned-booth framed with crimson velvet curtains. Wander further again towards the light emanating from the back corner and you'll discover the beer garden, more a backyard with toddlers exploring the terrain of plastic outdoor furniture under the watchful eyes of their still-hip parents.

It was in the middle section that we found a table for two, scanned the menu, and placed our order. With a page-long list of light and substantial meals, Wesley Anne offers the vegetarian eater at least a handful of choices and doesn't fall back on the usual fish, chips and burgers to keep the punters happy. On ordering, we received a small sourdough roll each with a dish of olive oil and balsamic. Michael enthusiastically dug in and I restrained myself to just a taste (a very pleasant taste!) in anticipation of my main. Here's Michael's gluten-free lasagne ($16):

He was pretty ambivalent about this one: too much polenta and too little cheese for his tastes. I was a little more impressed by my "potato pie with mushroom voulet and salad" ($15):

The mushrooms were dark and concentrated in flavour, with a delicious thick and creamy gravy. The pie filling also consisted of tender potato pieces and sweet, soft slices of red onion. The disappointment was the severely undercooked pastry on top: had this been done right, the crusty cheese would have been completely unnecessary. Given the excellent gravy situation, I didn't take much interest in the sweet tomato relish. The salad was just the kind of side I like: lots of peppery rocket, with the lightest dressing of vinegar and oil. The over-sized cherry tomatos were possibly the sweetest I've ever tasted.

As 8 o'clock passed, we snuck into the almost-empty side room for some rock'n'roll. Actually the Wesley Anne has an 11pm curfew and automated suspension of the PA system should it hit the maximum allowable volume, so it wasn't the exactly the wildest gig I've ever attended. Instead this shambolic lounge room of retro furniture was just the right setting for Ross McLennan's deadpan humour and rhythmic streams of syllables. As well giving me the chance to experience some much-loved songs live, McLennan entertained with quick and crafty solutions to the PA cut-outs and other minor mishaps; playing an unplugged electric guitar amongst the audience, using the guitar-to-amp plug to staticy effect and beat-boxing under-rehearsed rhythms to his drummer pre-song. As the last chords of 'What Kinda Friends Are We?' rang out at 11:02pm, I'm pretty sure everyone present knew they'd witnessed something special.

Address: 250 High St, Northcote Hill
Ph: 9482 1333
Fully licensed
Price: veg mains ~$15


  1. Sorry to hear that the food was a bit go-and-no, but glad to hear the gig lived up to expectations!

  2. I think the gig made it a night of note for both of us! And I'll be dreaming of that mushroom gravy for a while, even if Michael found the dinner forgettable. :-)