306-308 Melbourne Rd, Newport. Phone: 9399 4339
UPDATE 26/1/12: This restaurant has closed down. Becoming, according to a post on Urbanspoon, a Subway! Booo!
Stepping on to the train to Newport, I muse on the disturbing truth of how car-dependent we have become.
Our wheels are in the car doctor’s rooms for the weekend, hopefully with an affordable resolution the outcome on Monday.
In the meantime, a man has to eat.
And a blog is whispering about a scandalous week of neglect.
I am headed for the Souvlaki Hut outlet that took up residence a while back in what was once a fish and chip place, interested to see what resides at the intersection of Greek and Franchise.
I am thoroughly bemused and confused, therefore, when I near the establishment and see signs that say Jolly Rogers.
What’s going on?
After an enjoyable lunch, co-owner Anthony Scarlata gives me the lowdown.
He and his business partner bought Jolly Rogers a tad short of five years back.
Eventually, they signed up with the Souvlaki Hut people, but for various reasons that didn’t work well.
So now they’re back with the original name and have been open five weeks when I visit.
Along the way, they’ve retained a Mediterranean flavour – and hence signage that says: “Jolly Rogers … with a twist.”
So what does that mean?
Well, there’s still a heap of fish and chips going around.
But there’s also the likes of grilled halloumi cheese, dips, onion rings, burgers, souvlakis and salads. Gosh, there’s even brown rice for $3.95.
There’s kids meals for $5.95 – nuggets, calamari, F&C – which can upgraded with a slushie or soft drink for a very excellent $1.
“Mamma’s seafood salad” costs $15.95 while an entry level burger clocks in at $7.50 ($2.50 extra for chips) and char-grilled calamari at $9.95
Despite an ambiance that suggests fast food and franchising, this is a full-service restaurant. You can order a wine or a beer, my order is taken at my table, the cutlery and crockery are real and the service and welcome are efficient and chipper.
As such, the prices seem very fair and I suspect I’ll be returning quick smart with Bennie on hand to explore the menu in greater detail.
It presents as a really good place of the “family restaurant” variety. Moreover, it also seems to be a place where we will be able to pursue our occasional longings for seafood without going broke in the process.
Your flashier seafood joints, of none or any ethnicity, are usually well beyond our means, so this could be the beginning of a cool friendship.
Take, for instance, my “Seafood for 1 deal”, which costs $12.95.
The three calamari rings are as good as any I’ve ever had, the batter light and dry, the calamari tender and tasty. Outstanding!
The fish – rockling, I am informed – is just about as good, the nice-sized fillet encased in a batter that could be crisper. The fish itself is really, really good and flavoursome.
The chips are OK, likewise the salad, although both come across as a bit of an afterthought.
Upon inquiring about tartare sauce or mayo for chip-dipping purposes, I am presented with a bowl of good aioli for which I am not charged.
I’m having such a grand time – eating, relaxing, reading the newspaper – that I linger a while longer over a truly fantastic latte.
Extra brownie points to Jolly Rogers for in-house music that runs through the likes of the Temptations, Van Morrison, the Zombies, Dusty Springfield and the Monkees. Sure as hell beats the high-volume and teeth-grindingly awful Led Zep I endured at Mankoushe a week or so before!
I figure my enforced train trip to Newport has been a good omen, so I catch another choo choo back to Yarraville. As if I have any choice, walking side.