Monday, May 14, 2007


23 The Esplanade, Torquay, (03) 5264 8455

Remember Nikki Buckley from Sale of the Century? Well, Growlers is her place, right across from the beach in Torquay. The restaurant-cum-bar has been one of the town's most known eateries for quite a few years now- frequently making it into The Age Cheap Eats guides. So, on a shopping visit to Torquay on the weekend (it was way too cold for a swim!) we thought we would drop by and see what all the fuss was about and maybe even get a glimpse of Tony Barber's old co-host.

Despite the cool breeze coming off the water, the sun was shining, so we decided to sit out the front in the courtyard. The courtyard has a great view of the beach across the road. The tables were all filled as it seems most people were going out for lunch on mother's day eve. Not a bad idea - you're bound to save a few dollars, rather than going out on real mothers day.

We counted 5 waitresses and waiters that were servicing the courtyard area. Despite the large number of workers, we saw quite a few people customers arrive and be seated, order and receive their lunch by the time we even received our menus. After 15 minutes of waiting, we had to call a waiter over to ask for a menu. After another 15 minutes, we had to call the waitress over, as she was about to walk past us for the fourth time. She took our orders and trotted off. We haven't had much luck recently with service. We don't ask for much, just that we get some menus when we sit down and when we're obviously ready to order (note that the menus are on the table and we're trying to catch your eye, we're probably wanting to order.) do you're best to make it over as soon as you can to take down what we want.

Anyway, after our ordering debacle, we received our meals after a short wait. I ordered the late breakfast, which was Bacon, Eggs how you like, tomato and Hash Browns served on Sour Dough. The toast was delicious, although slightly under toasted, the bacon was good, not over-cooked. The eggs, were nicely poached and were perfectly runny, although, they did lack any real body. By that I mean, they were the flattest poached eggs I've ever seen. Must have been poached in shallow water in a frying pan, I'd say. The Hash Brown was nice enough, but it was a pre-manufactured one, from what I could tell. Not sure why a restaurant wouldn't make their own - they're pretty easy to make. My one problem with the breakfast was the tomato. It had been cooked in the same pan as fish had been cooked and the tomato really tasted like fish, the taste was over-powering. Either the pan hadn't been washed or not washed properly.

Rachel ordered a special of Local Mussels in Tomato Sauce, with sour dough rolls. Rach reckons that the Tomato sauce was awesome- really sweet. However, there were quite a few Mussels that hadn't opened, which shouldn't really have been served, considering we're paying for them and that they are inedible. The kitchen also hadn't gone to the trouble of scrubbing the Mussels either. The Mussels were pretty dirty and a few had some weird looking growths on them.

Growlers, overall, was an average experience. The service was slow, but when they did appear, they were relatively friendly enough. The food was quite good, but was let down with a few details that could have easily been avoided. Given it was a Saturday morning, I'm guessing that most of the crew had been out at the local pub the night before and really didn't want to be at work that morning. Fair enough I guess - we all feel that way sometimes. Oh, and surprise, surprise, Nikki Buckley wasn't there. Maybe she doesn't like fishy tomatoes either??

Waiting too long for fishy tomatoes


thanh7580 said...

The meal didn't sound too good and you didn't get to see Nikki.

I saw Nikki Buckley with her family at the tennis last year. She was right in front of me having her bag searched at the entry gate. I thought about going up and saying hi, but decided she probably didn't want people annoying her and her family at the tennis, so didn't say anything.

Adski said...

Hey Thanh,
The meal wasn't really that bad at all, in fact it was quite tasty. It was actually the service that let down our breakfast/lunch.
Maybe if Nikki was there, the service might have been a bit more ship shape.

Truffle said...

The photos are gorgeous! I'm sorry service wasn't up to scratch, I hate when that lets a meal down, but it looks like a lovely spot :)

Sharon said...

I had dinner here last night with friends - I don't know if Nicky Buckley still owns it but the service definitely has not improved. We were only asked once in 2 hours for our drink order (even then our chosen wine was not available and our second choice was served in a hot cooler), and were not even offered dessert. Again, it looked like lots of staff were on, but I don't know what they were doing!