I have to admit to some hesitation in making the booking for dinner at Trocadero. There have been some unflattering comments around about service, the fit out and perceived value-for-money. But my friends trust me so I thought – why not take them along as guinea pigs and see how The Troc performed in it’s natural environment – a pre-show (nanna time) meal in the middle of the Melbourne Festival. (No – you’re right – that wasn’t a very nice thing to do.)
Booking was no problem a couple of weeks ago. I was asked what time our show was and where it was and then advised on a “window” for dinner that would help to ensure we ate without rush and in time. So 5:30pm (eek) we rocked up for dinner. I say rocked up as I believe we were the only folks in the house who were headed out to see Billy Bragg – seems the remainder were off to some MSO thingo that started at 7:00pm.
Look – let’s be honest – the place is a bit “bunker like” and the door is not so easily seen but I doubt you’d get too lost looking for it. Hugging the curved edge of Hamer Hall I’m sure the outside tables will be in high demand during summer where they afford a view of the Yarra and the twinkly lights etc. But let us not forget what we’re here for, decent food, reasonably priced, within a set time frame (hopefully).
And Trocadero delivered. We were asked again on arrival and also by our waiter what time our show was. They really wanted to make sure we didn’t miss it. A couple of glasses of Prosecco (Brown Bros.) and a Campari Soda arrived and we were on our way.
Specials on the board included some whole snapper ($40) and some asparagus, oysters at $5 each (ouch) proscuitto ($16) or olives ($9) were proffered as “appertisers”. Entrees ranged from $19 to $23 and included the now ubiquitous Kingfish tartare, Italian buffalo mozzarella, and chicken liver parfait. Mains ranged in price from $29 to $38 for market fish, sesame tuna or pot roasted lamb shoulder. Sides were next and there was also a decent selection of mostly o/s cheese, but including the very fine L’artisan Extravagant from down Timboon way.
Desserts looked interesting and modern and pretty tempting really ($17).
If you came here for a standard three course evening – with the average bottle of wine around $95 - yoou could spend some say $250 – $300 for two quite easily and be surrounded by rushed pre-theatre patrons and noisy post-theatre patrons. Hmmm. Perhaps that’s where some of the comments are coming from?
Though in most cases I think folks will be here for one or two courses maximum so in that light it’s a reasonable price.
The staff were totally on the ball and exceptional at getting the place moving along and out to their events on time - a MUST for a venue located at the Arts Centre, and the menu is geared towards quick cooks. The counter-effect of course is that things can feel a bit rushed. We were out good and early for our show, in time for a drink at the Recital Centre.
Coffees were good (thank god as they attracted the restaurant premium price of $4 each) and an error on the bill was fixed quickly and without fuss.
We ate: Pea Arancini with Jerusalem Artichoke, Goats Curd and Black Olive ($29) and Rangers Valley Minute Steak, sauce Lyonnaise and Watercress ($28). Sides of triple cooked potatoes with truffle aioli and pecorino ($11) and salad leaves with dill dressing. ($9)
We drank: Foster e Rocco Rose ($55)
We paid $70 each (3 pax).
The arancini were full of flavour and creamy / crispy and delicious. The minute steak was cooked medium rare and the sauce rated well. My favourite dish though was the salad leaves. Large, varied, well washed and fresh.
Trocadero services the show-going crowd very well indeed, and perhaps with a loosening of the “per customer spend” calculations will be a fine spot for a quick snack and drink on a lazy, long summer evening. Keep it in context and you’ll have a fine time.