Jolly Rogers redux

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 306-308 Melbourne Rd, Newport. Phone: 9399 5499

UPDATE 26/1/12: This restaurant has closed down. Becoming, according to a post on Urbanspoon, a Subway! Booo!

It doesn’t take much venturing into the world of Australian food blogging to discover passions, threads, posts, discussions, debates and controversies.

Some of the topics such hot air revolves around include blog adverts, paid posts (in which a blogger writes a post about a product or service for payment) and freebie meals.

For the time being at least, we like the clean, uncluttered look of our site so it will remain advert-free.

As well, we are somewhat horrified at the sense of entitlement some bloggers display.

As hopelessly naive as it may seem, we continue to consider ourselves customers, food fans and amateur sleuths who have more in common with anoraks of the train-spotting variety than with any sort of professional restaurant reviewers.

Yet when an American friend asked, “Are you a restaurant reviewer?”, well I had to concede that, yes, we write restaurant reviews, so …

Still, we try to do our thing as discreetly as possible when enjoying our outings.

Truth is, many places simply ignore – or couldn’t care less about – the surreptitious note-taking and photography going on.

Plenty more, though, pick up on it straight away, which can sometimes lead to comical standoffs over our determination to pay for our meals.

It’s a fine line we’re trying to tread, but some situations seem to require a degree of graciousness, ones in which continual refusal could be considered plain rudeness.

This is especially so when we’ve returned to an establishment after posting a piece full of enthusiastic praise.

So, yes, we have accepted complementary coffees along the way – not to mention a single, superb gulab jamun and other sample treats. We hope like hell we have not become hopelessly compromised in the process!

Such a situation arose on a dark and stormy Thursday night on which I was very happy to take Bennie to Jolly Rogers as a follow-up to my own recent solo foray there.

On that visit, co-owner Anthony Scarlata had raved about his char-grilled calamari.

Sure enough, after we had placed our order for a burger ‘n’ chips meal, out came a sample plate of said calamari courtesy of the chef.

What were we meant to do? Send it back to the kitchen?

In any case, Anthony is right to be proud of this dish.

My calamari-loving son thought it was merely good; his dad thought it was sensational.

Resting on a bed of lovely brown rice, were about a dozen strands of ultra-tender and tasty calamari that had been grilled for about five minutes and then dressed with olive oil infused with lemon zest.

The char-grilled calamari comes in $9.95 and $13.95 sizes.

That “little bit extra” and our hearty appetites meant we over-ordered somewhat:

Bennie dug the onion rings ($4.95), which were done in the American style. Dad, being so enamoured these days with the lighter style of Indian onion bhaji, was not so impressed.

Large chips ($4.95) were, as on the previous visit, OK.

Our burgers – Jolly’s ($7.50) for dad, Lot ($8.95) for Bennie – were perplexing.

Burgers are routinely described as being a variety of sandwich – but these really WERE sandwiches.

Instead of being served in buns, our burgers were encased in some sort of flat bread that had been toasted and, seemingly, flattened in the process.

Look, we like to think of ourselves as adventurous and open-minded foodies.

But in this case, the product so defied a lifetime of conditioning about what burgers should look and taste like that we were left bemused.

The fillings seemed fine, though the flat-bread approach left dad coping with bits slipping and sliding beyond his two-fisted grasp.

Bennie did better with his one with the lot, which held together well and was so packed with goodies that he was stonkered about two-third of the way through.

Whatever – we like Jolly Rogers a lot and will be returning.

Certainly for more of the char-grilled calamari, maybe for the fish and chips enjoyed first time round.

Bennie opined as we left that next time he’d like to try one of the kebabs.

The Jolly Rogers website is here.

Jolly Rogers with a twist on Urbanspoon

Ripples Fish And Chips


14 Margaret St, Moonee Ponds. Phone 9370 0800

I’ve grown quite fussy about my fish and chips. I can imagine a scenario or two wherein I might eat them takeaway-style. Maybe tossed from the fryer into one of those cardboard trays, thrown is a paper bag and then scarfed at an adjacent beach no more than a few minutes walk away.

But as for eating ’em after they’ve been wrapped in paper and toted home – well, no, we don’t do that no more. The result might have appeal for some, but for me by the time you get around to it, them fish an chips is steamed, rather than fried. Just like home-delivered Cantonese food – in fact, home-delivered food of most kinds, including pizza.

I’m also quite a fan of the new-school fish and chip joints (and burger enterprises) that are now scattered across Melbourne.

Let’s face it – this isn’t the kind of food that any of us wants to live on, or even eat regularly.

So when I indulge, I want it good and I don’t mind going the extra yards – and paying the odd extra dollar.

In all regards, Ripples – in a strip of eateries right across from the Moonee Ponds train station – hits the spot.

Inside, it’s all spotlessly clean and gleaming formica and chrome.

They do such things as grilled this and cajun that, but I’m not interested.

The coleslaw is your typical Aussie routine – that is, swimming in mayo – but less so than in your average chicken shop. It’s pretty good, actually, and the cabbage/carrot/onion combo is crunchy and pleasingly on the fresh side.

The chips are always hot and likewise crunchy.

A recent visit (21/8/10) for fish, chips, coleslaw, tartare sauce, can of coke clocked in at $14.10.

On his single visit, Bennie had his usual burger-with-the-lot-minus-egg, pronouncing it just fine.

And here’s the clincher – Ripples staff not only bring your meals to your table, they bring REAL cuttlery and REAL crockery with them.

In the new world of fish and chips, one in which the oil is presumably changed a lot more often than on a yearly basis, that’ll get my vote and my money every time.

Ripples Fish & Chips on Urbanspoon