It was my birthday, and while I would have loved to go to somewhere closer to Fitzroy or the city, my sis requested that we have my birthday dinner down near St Kilda because she wanted to go to Progfest at the Espy aftewards… fine.
And while I would have loved to try either Bluecorn or Radio Mexico in St Kilda, I know my dad doesn’t like Mexican food, so the safest option was to have my birthday dinner at a pub… fine.
Then, to make parking easier, I chose a place that was outside the chaos of St Kilda, right near the corner of Carlisle Street and Chapel Street – The Local Taphouse. Not my first choice but I didn’t want anyone to have a reason to complain.
We parked in a lot with plenty of spaces, walked down Carlisle Street in the rain, and entered the woody space of this young pub with an old feel. It was opened in 2001 by a documentary-maker turned beer-maker who wanted to create an European style beer cafe that was relaxed and friendly, and I think he did a great job.
We laboured up the stairs to the Lourve Room and were greeted with a bar laden with bottles of beer and wine. It certainly had a traditional feel but the light fixtures brought it back to 2012.
We were greeted by the maître d’ – Stefan – who was a tall, bearded fellow with exceptional charm and familiarity. He showed us to our table, which was in the corner and gave me a nice view of the room. The wood panels along the walls created warmth and cosiness while the white ceilings prevented any feelings of claustrophobia.
Once we were settled, Stefan was ready to take drink orders. Because we were in “the best beer bar in the land”, I decided to sample some beers and opted for for the tasting paddle, which allowed me to try five beers.
- 4 Pines Kolsch 4.6% – this beer was really light and didn’t have much flavour other than light citrus. It reminded me of a really tasteless beer I used to drink during my uni days.
- Triple Moine 7.3% – a golden beer with hints of sweet green apple, that was light and crisp with a lovely finish. One of my favourites!
- Lindeman Framboise Fruit Lambic 2.5% – a very sweet beer with flavours of fresh cherry. It was like drinking cherry juice but with the light, bubbly texture of beer. While the alcohol percentage isn’t has high as other beers, I thoroughly enjoyed drinking this deep red brew. Another of my favourites!
- Uncle Dunkle Dunkelweizen 5% – a dark wheat beer with strong flavours that resembled a chocolate banana split. Really weird.
- Mr Mistoffelees Passionfruit and Mango Wild Ale 6.7% – after the fruit lambic, I had high hopes for this one but it just ended up being another weird one. The passionfruit and mango definitely came through but I think the flavour was marred by the Hungarian oak, which makes me sad because I’m Hungarian.
Our food began to come out shortly afterwards. First up was some toasted sourdough with some olive oil dip. The bread was very nice, moist and the crust was hearty and had excellent crunch.
Despite Stefan’s recommendation to try to braised beef, I ordered the Chilli Con Carne, and when it arrived, I was disappointed. A small scoop of chilli on top of a mound of plain rice, with some sour cream and a few strings of cheese. Unfortunately, dad ordered the same thing (I thought he didn’t like Mexican!!!) and we were both displeased.
The chilli was bland, the rice blander, and I was thoroughly unsatisfied. In the meantime, mum and Dave on either side of me had ordered the chicken parma. It looked phenomenal, despite the chips being smothered by the chicken breast (they really need to stop doing that! Gives me the shits). I was allowed to sample and found the chicken to be thick and juicy, and any chips that remained crispy to be delicious and excellent. Fkn food envy…
At the end of the evening, I asked Stefan over for a plate and knife because I had brought a little birthday cake to share with everyone. He over-delivered, bringing a birthday candle as well. What a wonderful and awesome dude. Stefan really made my night. He helped me pick out the beer, made a food recommendation that definitely would have been better than what I ordered, and he even let me bring my own little cake and have a candle on it! Super awesome dude.
If I ever come back to the Taphouse for a meal, it’d be for the Lindemans Fruit Lambic, a parma or the Three Beer Beef Burger, and to see Stefan’s smiley, bearded face again. What a super awesome dude.