Sunday, March 29, 2009

Little Creatures Dining Hall


I really, really wanted to like Little Creatures Dining Hall... it totally seemed like my kind of place - looks nice, relaxed vibe.... but it was very disappointing. Anyone who's been reading my blog for a while will know that I don't like doing negative reviews - usually I'm like "Oh wow, delicious! Fabulous! Can't wait to come back!" - but it's important to be honest.

Little Creatures Dining Hall
222 Brunswick St
Fitzroy
(03) 9417-5500
Website

Let's start with the fit-out. The cavernous warehouse space looks very cool (and the natural sunlight makes it great for food photos, hehe), with an open kitchen at one end, and loads of large communal tables, and leather booths. On the walls are some funky diagrams about the beer-making process. I made a mental note to tell my home-brewing friend George to come here.

EDIT: Spoke to George - she's already been there and had an even worse experience than we did - oops.


We weren't thrilled by the order of service. We were asked to order beer THREE times before we'd even seen a menu - when we arrived and were told to wait at the bar (even though it was half-empty); at the bar itself; and when we were taken to the table. (Yes, I know it's a brewery, but it was 12:30 in the afternoon!)

Anyhoo, we finally got a menu and had a look. It was quite interesting - mussels, pizzas, pie - good beer food! Duh.

The waitstaff use those electronic PDA things to take your order, which do no-one any favours. They're slow, and they force the waiter to stare down and squint at the tiny screen rather than talking to the customers. I had to use one at a previous job, and they were horrible - we all gave up after the first couple of months and used pens and pads instead.

Our waitress didn't seem to be listening to us either.

Me: I'll have the mussels and a pale ale.
Waitress: OK. Yeah, so what did you want to drink?
Me: Pale ale.
Waitress: Oh yeah, whoops.
Sandra: I'll have a kransky and a coke.
Waitress: OK. Yeah, so what did you want to drink?
Sandra: Er.... a coke?
Waitress: Oh yeah! Sorry, I'm really out of it today.

Or maybe she just kept asking us to repeat ourselves because it was so damn noisy in there and she couldn't hear us. The huge space, with its hardwood floors, amplifies the noise level. A lot. Like I said, it wasn't even that busy in there and we were struggling to hear each other. It would be totally deafening on a Saturday night when it'd be chockers. It doesn't help that the music they were playing was loud.

Anyway, the food and drinks came out without a hitch.
My beer (Haha, "pale ale"); organic cola; pipsqueak-sized cider for Su. The cider tasted a bit odd at first - very dry. But after the next sip I appreciated how refreshing it was, quite like a vinho verde. I'd definitely like to drink that on a hot day.

Then the food came out...
My mussels were good - very fresh and with a tasty sauce (white wine, garlic and fennel, I think). I liked the chargrilled bread that came with it too.

Su had a beef pie, which looked great but was massive. She said it was nice, but the one at Belgian Beer Garden is better. (Before any Melbourne foodies roll their eyes at me, I realise the BBG is hardly the trendiest foodie venue, but what they do, they do well).

Sandra ordered a kransky (you can take the girl out of Germany...)
The kransky was BURNT. So burnt that you couldn't taste the sausage anymore, just the burnt exterior. The sauerkraut, dissapointingly, didn't have caraway seeds in it, but that's a moot point.

Chips were good, the mayo was super garlicky and creamy. I liked that they left the skin on the potatoes.

Apart from the burnt kransky, the food was pretty good, but nothing to write home about. When she was clearing up our table, our waitress asked how our meal was. We said that everything was good, except that the sausage was burnt. Her response? "OK". It had been eaten, so of course we weren't expecting a refund or anything, but I figured she'd say sorry, or that she'd let the kitchen know. Or something. Whatever.

One more thing... check out the inside of our water jug.
Rusty water jug. FERAL.

So there you go. A disappointing experience. I wouldn't rush back, or recommend it to my friends. So far I haven't heard any glowingly positive reports on Little Creatures from my friends, colleagues or fellow bloggers. The main criticisms seem to be similar - the noisy atmosphere, the expense (sorry I forgot the prices! I personally found the price to be reasonable overall), and the attitude of the waitstaff/host who seats you.

Has anyone else tried the Little Creatures Dining Hall? What were your impressions?

Little Creatures Dining Hall on Urbanspoon

8 comments:

thanh7580 said...

The wait staff sound like the same crew from Wagamama. Fancy useless PDAs and no service to speak of. I had a meal at a Wagamama in QLD too, exactly the same as in Chadstone.

I ready Cindy from Where's the Beef's review of the original Little Creatures Dining Hall (brewery that also served food?) in Tassie and she said that was really good.

Mary said...

Yes, we arranged to meet a friend there who had raved about it. It was noisy, the service tried hard but couldn't hear over the noise and were rushed off their feet and for the price the food was so so.

Anonymous said...

Good review Sarah. I hope the operators hear of this review - and read it - as it will alert them to their rusty crockery - which is unacceptable, and their staff as well.

Hookturns said...

The food is alright, but not great value. There are plenty of better options nearby.

cltyw said...

OMG! I'm shock!I heard pretty good review of Little Creatures in Tassie and when I saw there's one in Mel, I wanted to give it a try. But now, most probably I will give it a miss! Don't really fancy a place where I can't really catch up with mates.

Cindy said...

I'm impressed with Thanh's memory, though he made a little slip! The original Little Creatures brewery is in Fremantle, WA. I had a great time there - it was crowded and loud and our large group had to wait a very long time for a table, but the food was great. (Don't remember the service.) I think the menu in Melbourne is quite similar, but haven't tried it yet myself. After reading your review, Sarah, I'm in no rush to get there. :-/

Martin said...

Shame about your review as I was planning to visit this July when I am in Melbourne for work, but saying that the attraction for me is entirely the Little Creatures beer, one of the better brews to be produced by Australia. Their pale ale just fills your mouth with hops, so as you did not pay much attention to the important things i life aka beer, I'll probably still give it a try. Saying that it does look like a sad place to go on your own, but just think of the beer.

Anonymous said...

You need to try rain water from a (rusting) corrugated iron water tank. You'll realise how crappy utility supplied tap water really is.

The rust spots in that jug remind me of just how much I miss truly fresh tasting water.

It's all in the iron, and that comes through at the rust spots.