We ended up trying to decide between going back to Nobu or trying Walter's Wine Bar. Walt won because although Steve had been before, I hadn't and because we were off to Koko the next day so a different cuisine was a good idea.
The whole Southgate Centre is going through refurbishment but it seems that most the outlets are empty or closing down which is a real shame. As a Southbank resident, I'd like to see some more mainstream shops as well as the the independent's. A more balanced range of shops would mean I'd go and spend Saturday afternoons there browsing which I don't do now as I find them all a bit hit and miss and there's not that much choice. A Coles or Woolworths would be convenient too.
Anyway for the sake of the good restaurants there, I hope things get better and passing trade increases. At the moment I think people only go to the Southgate upper floors for a particular restaurant which means the business miss out on passers by unless situated on the river terrace.
Walter's is nicely fitted out. We received a friendly welcome from the waitress and were seated by a window with a view of the Yarra. We saw a man lose his canoe and fall into the river too which was entertaining for us although probably not for him. Falling into the Yarra in the Winter can't be great fun.
The dumplings were meaty and not too dense and the broth was savoury with a warm spice. I love coriander and it also had those crispy onion bits that you sometimes get sprinked on rice in hawker restaurants. I think a citrus kick whether a squeeze of lemon or lime would have been a welcome addition but all in all a pretty good start for me.
Steve's mushroom soup was a little bit bland and grainy for my tastes but the goat's cheese croutons really livened it up. The creaminess of the cheese really lifted the soup from ok to yummy.
It was the right decision. The steak was tender and tasty with good char grilled flavour and still rare enough for me. The chips were crisp and great with the extra aioli I asked for. The aioli tasted more yoghurty, creme fraiche based than mayonnaisey which was actually better with this meal as it was lighter.
We ordered a shiraz roussanne blended wine which we didn't realise was 14.5% until it arrived. I could smell its strength from the the moment the top came off and it certainly packed a punch. It went great with the steak but we couldn't manage another bottle, nor would it have been a wine to drink on an empty stomach! The wine list at Walter's is large with a lot from New Zealand. I love New Zealand wine but it would be good to see a few more Victorian wines and a few more wallet friendly choices.
In spite of the soup and the steak, we decided we had enough stomach space to share a pavlova which looked very pretty when it arrived. It was nice enough but the meringue was a little grainy and the cream, meringue, strawberries ratio could have been better; not enough cream to lift the sweetness of the meringue.
We enjoyed our lunch and the food and wine combo set us up for a great lazy afternoon of napping and newspaper reading. I think when picking somewhere for dinner there are probably other places to try but for a boozy Saturday lunch it's not a bad choice at all.