Monday, October 29, 2012

The Spotted Mallard

October 23, 2012

Michael got wind of the newly opened Spotted Mallard on Mess+Noise and immediately scheduled it in for pub club. The menu looked alright (solid vegetarian options, though nothing vegan or gluten-free was clearly marked) and I suspect Michael wanted to scope the venue for trivia.

The interior is quite striking and hints at the premises' previous lives as a French restaurant and, before that, a Greek wedding venue. The stained skylights, antique chairs, wall mirrors and lampshade clusters had a few of us questioning whether this really counted as a pub. The tone of the menu, the bar service and the downstairs bandroom settled it for me. The main vegetarian offerings are a burger and an eggplant parma, and the meat-free snacks currently include marinated olives, spiced nuts, chips, hoummus and fetta on Turkish bread and chickpea fritters.

I checked out those chickpea fritters ($12). They're eerily similar to the ones I enjoyed at Mamasita, though here they're served with a superbly smoky chiptole mayo. The rocket, fennel and pine nut salad rounded out this dish nicely, though I wish it had been served on something more dish-like - flat boards just mean spills for all but the most dextrous diner.

Michael ordered the Spotted Mallard Vurger ($19), which was a messy but tasty experience - the brioche bun was stacked with a grilled portabello mushroom, pickled onion, beetroot, goats cheese, tomato relish and rocket. The thick Jenga-stacked chips were better still, though the coleslaw didn't excite.

The Spotted Mallard has been open little more than a fortnight, so it's hardly surprising that the dining area was relatively quiet on a Tuesday night.  Our group of more than a dozen pub clubbers had their pick of the tables and probably constituted half of their evening's customers. However, in even this not-even-quarter-full circumstance, the kitchen couldn't keep up. Some of our friends waited up to an hour and twenty minutes of their food to be served. We wouldn't like that at a busy restaurant, and it's even more irritating to experience at a quiet one.

Once fed, everyone spoke well of the food at the Spotted Mallard. It's a really pleasant space and the staff are friendly too. Let's hope they work out how to streamline up their kitchen operations.

The Spotted Mallard
314 Sydney Rd, Brunswick
9380 8818
veg dishes $8-19

Accessibility: The Spotted Mallard's dining area is located up a wide flight of stairs, and some tables are accessed via further stairs; we didn't see any alternative means of entry. Tables are well spaced. All food and drinks are ordered and paid for at a high bar, then food is delivered to the table. We didn't visit the toilets.

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