It was Dave’s birthday and the Skinny Dog Hotel in Kew was chosen as the place to meet for dinner as it was positioned between the northern suburbs where we live, and the south eastern suburbs where Dave’s family lives.
We arrived at 7pm and found our table in an elevated and well-lit dining area with peppermint green walls and high ceilings, which contrasted the warm red and bright green of the lower restaurant area.
The eight of us were squished onto a table that probably would have perfectly fitted 6 people, and we began the ordering process. The staff were cold and mechanical as they took our orders and brought our food out.
The first item to hit the table was the trio of dips – a wooden board with six slices of toasted bread, accompanied by three dollops of housemade dips – hommus, spicy capsicum and avocado – as well as some extra virgin olive oil and dukkah spice.
The best thing about this entree dish was the bread – sourdough that was still warm from being toasted, spread with melted butter to give it moisture and contribute to the morish flavour. The texture of the bread was fabulous – moist but still light without being airy and dry. Great bread. We actually ordered another serving because there was only six pieces of bread for eight people. I certainly didn’t mind having two pieces.
The rest of it was unimpressive. All three dips tasted like they were fresh from the Black Swan factory, and there’s only so much you can say about dipping your bread into olive oil before covering it in spices. I would have been happy with just bread.
We also got a Calabrese pizza that looked phenomenal. It wasn’t laden with toppings to make it too heavy, the cheese was grilled just right and it was flavoursome, but the crust was a little disappointing. It seemed a little soggy and underdone, plain and bland. A real let down to what could have been an awesome pizza. Made me yearn from the pizza base from Pizza Mein Liebe…
The mains came soon afterwards. I had ordered a half serve of their ‘Famous Skinny Dog Parma’, and while the plate reflected the serving size, the actual food didn’t! To me, this is what a normal parma looks like, but they just put it on a small plate. There was no buffer zone between the food and the edge of the plate to move around!
To make matters worse, they put the fucking chicken on top of my chips, so they ended up being soggy, and there wasn’t even any room on the plate to rectify the problem. I had to eat my salad and a portion of my parma to create room before sweeping the chips out from underneath the chicken. It was too late – the crisp of the chip was ruined.
The parma itself was precooked and recooked with dry chicken and a soggy crust that had an inner layer of congealed breadcrumbs. The napoli sauce was acidic and immature, and this flavour overpowered everything. The ham was sliced so thin it was almost transparent and provided no relief. The two saving graces of this meal was the cheese, which was grilled to perfection, and a few leaves of basil underneath the cheese that had enough flavour to punch through the napoli sauce.
Dave ordered the porterhouse steak cooked medium with rosemary and garlic chat potatoes, ‘honey roasted carrots’ and mushroom sauce.
It was a great big hunk of meat, and when he cut the first piece off he was impressed that they had managed to cook it medium. But as he got deeper into the heart of the meat, it revealed a rare centre. I had a piece and it was ok. I couldn’t taste the meat due to the smokey flavour of the entire dish. Dave enjoyed the chats and commented that his “vegetables were overcooked”. His mushroom sauce was also ultra chunky with whole mushroom quarters.
Jesse got the Kentuckeeeeeeeeeee style pork ribs slathered in housemade BBQ sauce, with beer batter chips and mustard slaw.
I was invited to sample some and found the meat on the ribs to be tender but the sauce was not great. It was sweet with an overpowering smokey flavour and a hint of spiciness on the finish. I began to suspect that they have a cupboard full of liquid smoke in the kitchen because Dave’s meal was just as smokey.
Jesse obviously didn’t enjoy the mustard slaw because it was pushed to the side.
What happened next was the shit part. While most of us had finished our meals, Chrissy and Andrew were still going, but they came over anyway and cleared the empty plates. Then the bill was slid onto the table. We didn’t ask for the bill! What if we wanted desserts?! I called the guy over and said, “can we please have a plate and a knife so we can cut the birthday cake we brought?”
He went away to ask someone and returned to say that we can have a plate and knife but we couldn’t actually EAT THE CAKE there. Mortified…
We were then told that they’re clearing the dining room out for some new Uni event that was launching that evening. When the fuck were we going to get told? Putting the expensive, low-quality food aside, we were being muscled out of the dining area without any notice!
We called for the manager and told her our disappointments. She was apologetic and offered to rectify the sour taste in our mouths with vouchers, but we had already settled the bill and decided that we weren’t coming back, so giving her our feedback was enough.
I put my jacket on and did a reconnaissance mission to find an establishment that would take us in to enjoy hot chocolates and birthday cake. Around the corner was a La Porchetta, and when I told them what had happened, they welcomed us with open arms!
They brought us a knife to cut the cake, took orders for hot chocolate and coffee and provided plates and cutlery so we can enjoy the final part of our evening. If it wasn’t for the warm and friendly staff at La Porchetta in Kew, the evening would have ended too soon, and without cake.