Docklands, VIC 3005
Ph: 8680 6000
Website: The Wharf Hotel
The Wharf Hotel is a newly opened gastropub inside the World Trade Centre. It is among a group of restaurants and pubs that are opening and taking advantage of the empty space on the other side of the Yarra River.
The pub is beautifully decked out and has a nautical theme running throughout. There are probably five separate areas which can cater to different groups. Upon walking through the port hole type corridor, you will be greeted by the dining table service booths straight in front. On the right there is a small seated drinking area with access to the main bar. Further inside there is a standing area, again with access to the main bar. There is a secondary bar to the left with indoor standing room and outdoor seats overlooking the stunning view of the Yarra, Polly Woodside and Crown Casino.
Ling and I were offered a massive booth just for the two of us to dine at. The booth was extremely comfortable with cushions scattered everywhere. It felt a little strange as eight people could easily have been seated at that booth and there were the two of us, feeling like little islands amongst all that plush leather seating.
The hotel manager Greg came and looked after us and explained a bit about The Wharf Hotel. Basically, they're aiming to be a gastropub that serves to both diners and customers wishing to come for a drink. Their target clientele are office workers after hours and friends and family on weekends. I personally can't see a family or couples going there for meals. More likely it will be friends going for a bite before or after another event. The meal itself didn't feel like the event for me, just because the surroundings are extremely loud and I prefer to be able to carry out conversations without resorting to constant shouting.
The menu is very large, with a variety of tapas style meals to share, or larger mains for one person. The beer menu is impressively diverse, with over 50 types of bottled beer Greg informed me. The wine menu looked adequate with decent Australian wines.
We took Greg's suggestions and started with a trio of tapas style sharing items. We picked the Roasted Pork Belly, Chargrilled Calamari and Black Pudding and Eggs. I personally thought the pork belly was average, with the skin not being really crispy. Ling though liked it a lot. The chargrilled calamari really had that nice charred flavour, possibly a bit too much for my liking as it overpowered the sweetness of the calamari. It was extremely tender though so was still good. I was perplexed why poached eggs and black pudding was on the menu but luckily I ordered it. It was sensational, with a gooey egg contrasted perfectly by these crispy fried black pudding that just crumbled away in your mouth and packed a bag full of flavour.
For mains, we shared a huge Chateaubriand Steak served with salad and Roasted Potato. Don't let the photo of the steak fool you, that was what was left after we finished eating. It was absolutely massive. It was extremely tender and cooked medium rare just as I had asked for. The flavours were quite nice, but needed a bit more dynamics I thought. The roasted potatoes on the other hand were absolutely divine. They had been roasted with garlic, rosemary and some truffle oil. I know that food snobs would turn their noses at truffle oil, but it worked on these potatoes. It was so fragrant and they were mooreish to the point that we kept eating them after we had given up on the steak. Lastly to finish off, we shared an Apple Strudel with Blueberries. The strudel was good, with a great pastry and soft filling. The slight negative is that it was very sweet, which meant I ate three spoonfuls before giving up.
It's hard to judge the service as the hotel manager Greg looked after us all night. I did notice that it got extremely busy towards the end of the night and I would guess that table service would be neglected more as waiters tried to service the bar first. The atmosphere there is very boisterous and you have to talk quite loudly to be heard. I think this place would suit a group of friends wanting a quick meal where they can share the tapas and then kick on with some drinks or head elsewhere afterward. Alternatively, this would be a great place to come to nearing the end of your night out, again to have a few bite to eat and some drinks. The view is stunning and I can see myself having a drink on the patio area in summer while looking at the night skyline.
Overall Rating: 13/20, Great place for a light meal and drinks with friends.
Scores: 1-9: Unacceptable, don't bother. 10-11: Just OK,some shortcomings. 12: Fair. 13: Getting there. 14: Recommended. 15: Good. 16: Really good. 17: Truly excellent. 18: An outstanding experience. 19-20:Approaching perfection, Victoria's best.
Thanks to Jenny Brookes from Harvey Publicity and to The Wharf Hotel for the complimentary meal.