Monday, July 30, 2012

The Merrywell

Disclaimer: I was invited to dine at the Merrywell compliments of the restaurant. However, as always, my thoughts in this blog are based on my own personal thoughts and experience at the time. I do love a good burger.

Recently, on a typical schizophrenic Melbourne weather Friday, after doing my usual rounds at the gym (which I was so glad I did, you will understand later), I strolled on down to the Merrywell, one of Crown's new-ish eating establishments in their newly branded 'West End'. 

I had walked by the Merrywell several times, as I rounded the corner to make my way to Galactic Circus (DDR junkie, what up!), but never took the initiative to step in. This is despite it always looking fairly busy on the weekends, and a warm, colourful looking environment inviting you in. 

So I was naturally pretty excited when I got invited for lunch!

The Merrywell just makes me smile. Ceilings that are sky high, windows around the front from the floor to the top, warm woods everywhere, but edged out with metal details and just, pretty fun little retro details here and there. 

I for one loved all the colourful posters, especially since they were humorous, cartoony and generally imbued with good vibes. 

We were seated upstairs, which is usually closed during lunch, but open during dinner with a fancier gastro-pub inspired menu. Although upstairs is a little darker, and feeling a little more like a luxurious 'man-cave', it still had it's flashes of colour and fun. 

So whilst we were sitting upstairs, we were still dining off the downstairs menu, which started with a healthy round of American styled 'floats', ain't seeing too much of those these days! Since there were four of us (Lianne, Sarah and I-Hua), we each decided to get a different float each so that we can try more flavours. Hooray for bloggers in numbers! 

Although I'm usually a bit adverse to whipped cream on my drinks, I have to say, I'm all up for floats coming back. The Merrywell mixes it up by making all it's floats alcoholic (although there are one or two which you can opt not to have vodka with!). 

The Merrywell Spider (root beer, vanilla ice-cream) made us all think of the Malaysian favourite, sarsi! Not much other way to describe it guys! 

The Wake up (4 Pines Stout and espresso ice-cream) was well, most guys who drink coffee and stout's dream! Espresso, nutty, dense and creamy, it was kind of a meal in itself!

Cherry coke float (vanilla ice-cream and cherries) was a classic favourite, I think this was probably one of my favourites out of the 4, as it's a really familiar flavour…although just make sure you mix it all up when you get it, as otherwise your last sips will all be sweet, sweet cherry syrup!

After tossing up between the Jefferson Airplane and Mint and Magic, I gave in to my old vice (rum), and went with the latter which had bitters, mint sherbet and havana club rum. Dangerous, dangerous drink. A little sweeter than minty, the alcohol just kinda…sneaks up on you…especially when you drink it as fast as I do and have a tolerance as low as mine….oops…

With palate's whet we eagerly awaited for our meals…and were we in for a feast!

We started with a couple of ginormous salad's to share. We had a caesar salad, greek salad and mexican cob salad. I missed a picture of the mexican cob salad as it was all the way at the other end of the table…and I was lazy. 

I think it's a bit hard to judge salads when they are made to such big proportions. The caesar was fresh, with lovely crispy greens (romaine hearts) and tasty croutons, but was relatively unexciting…as it was just big crispy greens. I did appreciate though that they left the dressing for us on the side!

The greek salad I personally enjoyed a bit more, with tomato, feta, cucumber and crispy pita (for a bit of texture), I absolutely also loved the addition of dried figs. Need more figs in my life clearly!

It didn't take long for the main event to arrive though and although we had a selection of several burgers and sandwiches to choose from, including the 'Bangin' Banh Mi' (kind of wonder what makes it so 'Bangin'') and the Bistro burger (which has slide-it-in fries), most of us ended up going with 'The Merrywell' burger. 

It's the burger with the lot. Lettuce, cheese, pickles, onion, tomato, special sauce (?!), bacon and fries. Man, it had been a while since I had had a burger with bacon in it. This was going to be good. 

In an attempt to style my food and make it all arty and stuff, I tried to squeeze on some mustard, because mustard and red meat makes the world go around for me, but well, not quite as artistic as I was hoping for. Now my burger just looks like it's covered in yellow worms. 

But that's besides the point. As the burger was yummy. As in, mouth-watering yummy. As in, dripping in your hands, bacon fatty, thick meaty pattie, cheese melty, special sauce spicy, yummy. As in, I'm a regular Grill'd burger goer, and I do like those burgers, but THIS is a burger. Like real deal, this is surely what the Americans are eating that we need more of here. Greasy and juicy as hell, you better make sure you've got your hands and your burger over something to catch all that burger juice. With every bite you just love life that much more for this burger's presence in it. I later realised I should have kept half of the wrapper around my burger while eating it, but at least I had delicious fingers to lick later. 

And the fries! They fed us more fries! Seriously moreish and delicious, I loved that they were cut so that they still had potato skin at the ends, crunchy, but not crispy, it was kind of hard not to keep shoving the salty goodness in to my mouth. It became that situation when you go "I'm so full…..*shove more chips in face*". 

I-Hua, went with the K.F Club (which I kept accidentally calling the 'K Fed Club', hurr hurr), with chicken, bacon, cheddar, tomato and mayo. Cute yah?

I don't know why, but I tend to get excited by onion rings. I think my last experience with them in Cambodia was so good, I'm just excited to eat them everywhere now! And I guess deep fried anything is usually too hard to go wrong....These onion rings are not as lightly battered as I generally like, but it is still a tasty batter and it's kind of a fun thing to eat. You take one bite, you end up pulling out the whole onion out of the rest of the batter, then you get to nom the rest of the awesome crispy stuff. Who can fail really?

There were also some tacos up for offer, but (almost) a whole burger and a couple of fistful of fries later, I was just about ready to call it quits. 

That is until the sweetest word came up for discussion. Dessert? 

Oh well…….I guess we can share…….

Frankly, I'm glad we did! The desserts were huge! Served in cute individual jars, we had the option of sticking our spoons into a chocolate mousse, lamington trifle or chai creme brulee. 

The chocolate mousse was the general favourite of the table. It wasn't too sweet, it was thick and dense, cocoa-y and quite dark. I did very much love the chocolatey-ness of the flavour, although I tend to like my chocolate mousse's a little lighter than dense and thick personally. 

Whilst not strictly a 'creme brulee', the chai creme brulee still had the element of needing to break the top to get into the creamy goodness below. I loved the flavour in this, not too overwhelming, but definitely present, the chai spices were warming and somewhat refreshing. 

While we were eating, Grant 'G-Mac' MacPherson, one of the owners/chef (the other being Sammy 'D-Man' de Marco), who had just hopped off a plane from LA, came by to say hi and see how we were going. Although he looks a bit like a rockstar, he's a totally cool guy and seems super nice. He even personally signed some of his newest books for each of us! Too cool! With a resume that includes the Bellagio and the Wynn hotels in Las Vegas, he's naturally rubbed shoulders with some of hollywood's finest. 

And apparently, the lamington trifle is Morgan Freeman's favourite dessert by 'G-Mac'. So urr, if Mr. Freeman, a man I respect greatly, can appreciate that, I'm getting all over it. 

Besides the Morgan Freeman factor though, I think this was the dessert that piqued my interest and curiosity the most, surprisingly! I normally like the chocolatey, creamy, heavy stuff! It was full of texture, and great refreshing flavours. Chunks of strawberries, lamington, cream and a thick berry compote, what's not to like? I enjoyed everything about this dessert, even nibbling on the coconut rough that came off the lamingtons. Again, not too sweet and just delightful. 

So uh, now you see why I was glad I went to the gym earlier that morning…? I nearly didn't!

I left the Merrywell, a lot more pleasantly surprised than I thought I would be. With an array of great spaces, from the easy going downstairs area, slick lounge upstairs and the cosy outdoor area, with a beautiful view over the river, and of course the fun but simple approach to the food and drinks, I think there's certainly lots to like about this American inspired gastro-pub. I look forward to popping around one evening and checking out the vibes then as well…maybe over a basket of fries…or three….

Be sure to check out what Sarah thought of the Merrywell too!

Clarendon Street & Crown Riverside

The Merrywell on Urbanspoon

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