It's a buzzy place filled with the Melbourne hipster gang and our arrival at 9:30pm on a Saturday evening in time for our 9:30pm table mean that we had to wait. Those hipsters obviously arrive fashionably late and stay beyond their welcome!
The place was particularly busy that night as George himself was in town. Oh the prestige! There was a sectioned off area in the bar so obviously George had his VIPs in the house. He was no Jacques Reymond or Abla Amad from Abla's as he avoided most of the tables and only put his arm round those he knew and had conversations with the beautiful young girls who went up to him didn't give him room to make a getaway.
I appreciate it must be hard being famous and everyone wanting a piece of you but I also felt that he could have said hi to each table and wished everyone a good night instead of just picking and choosing especially as he spent most of his time in the dining area. A different story had he been in the kitchen. I completely would not have expected him to come out then but given he was already circulating...who am I kidding? I felt left out!
Our 9:30pm table was not ready for ages. We weren't seated until 10:15pm and whilst we were gracious enough in the beginning not to mind by 10:15pm we were disgruntled especially as no one had made an effort to apologise. There is a sort of "laissez fiare" laid back kind of attitude amongst the front of house staff; I guess they don't need to value customers as much when they're queuing out the door.
All three of us opted for an individual main dish and chose the polenta chips with sour cream, chilli soffritto and the pea, mint and ricotta salad to share.
The salad was delicious - fresh and sweet with a creaminess form the cheese and a saltiness from the pecorino scattered on top. The polenta chips were appetisingly golden with a crunchy crust. The chilli sofrito wasn't as flavoursome or as spicy as I'd have liked.
My main dish was the classic spaghetti marinara with mussels, vongole, prawns, calamari, chilli, garlic. I enjoyed the al dente pasta and the tasty clean seafood flavours. There was a clear respect for the ingredients and rightly so as they were fresh and flavoursome with no need for any additional fancy elements.
My dining companions also enjoyed their main dishes. I liked the fact that the tables weren't too close together like Chin Chin but it still had that busy and buzzy vibe. I would have liked better and stronger wait staff and an apology / gesture for the 45 minute wait rather than made to feel I was lucky to dine there and I would have loved a smile and a hello from George given he was already there! I think that would have made up for everything else.