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Thursday, 21 March 2013

Lane's Edge, Waiter's (Club) Restaurant

Meyers Place is one of my favourite Melbourne laneways to hang out in, not least because it offers a variety of bars to choose from. Yes, there are several, but together they form a chilled-out sanctuary from the ritzy, pricey hotspots around the top end of Bourke Street (Siglo/Supper Club/City Wine Shop, Longrain, Madame Brussels, Gin Palace and 1806 all come to mind). Don't get me wrong - many of these are excellent; but when you venture out midweek on a regular basis, it's nice to know you have a cluster of affordable, more relaxed options available, as well as the schmancier, special-occasion places.

Also handy is how easy Meyers Place is to find, compared to many other Melbourne laneways. "It comes off Bourke Street, near the Parliament end," is a phrase I'm sure I've spouted multiple times to uninitiated friends. Failing that, I tell them to look for the Palace Theatre - it's almost directly across the road.

The Bourke Street entrance to Meyers Lane is marked on one side by a convenience store and by the wonderful Lane's Edge Cafe & Bar (39 Bourke Street, Melbourne) on the other. With its street seating, a dinky front lounge and an awkward thoroughfare next to the kitchen, one would be forgiven for thinking Lane's Edge is not all that flash. But its shining jewel is its courtyard: a long, red-bricked space, jam-packed with tables and decorated in a warm, kitsch and colourful style, with lampshades, palms, fake vines, fairy lights, beaded curtains, bright water jugs, a tiki-style bar, and overhead awnings and heaters for winter.

Lane's Edge courtyard, complete with palms

Funky lampshade & fake vines

It's table service, pay-as-you-go (or set up a tab), and the staff are friendly, if fleeting. The food's alright, but the main drawcard is the great vibe. It's a wonderful drinking spot, afternoon or evening, weeknight or weekend, and I have met lots of interesting people there.

Beaded curtains and vines

Tiki bar and bright water jug

As well as Loop Bar, Meyers Place Bar, Lily Black's, San Telmo, and the fabulous Bar Lourinha at its end, Meyers Place is home to one of Melbourne's better-kept secrets - The Waiter's Restaurant (20 Meyers Place, Melbourne), formerly known as the Waiter's Club. I have previously bemoaned the slipping standards of traditional, home-style Italian institution Pellegrini's, and Waiter's falls into the same category - but happily its standards remain high, and highly satisfactory.

Ugly decor #1

Ugly decor #2

It's like stepping into a 1970s Italian gentleman's club, converted into an RSL tea room. The brown wood veneer walls and tables, ugly curtains, and vinyl chairs are definitely not attractive - but it's so honest, and so durn UNLIKELY in Melbourne's dining scene these days - that's it's hard not to like!

Rave reviews from customers

High quality, personalised artworks ;) 

The staff are usually young women with model-serious faces who transform into warm, informative hostesses as soon as you ask them a question. And questions, you will need to ask. The menu is on the wall - that's it, plus a specials board above the kitchen alcove - and the items are listed in a perfunctory style: Spaghetti Carbonara, Marinara, Osso Bucco, etc. with no elaboration as to what the more unfamiliar sauce names actually translate to in the dish. But I kinda like that. It's an exclusive attitude, but one with integrity: "We trust that you'll already know what the food is, and that you'll like it."

Menu.  (Sorry for the crap pic.)

The no-nonsense approach extends to the drinks as well: all the glasses are tumblers, whether for wine or otherwise, and although licensed, the drinks menu is limited. However, I usually manage to find something to please. More often than not, it's because I've already sunk a few at Lane's Edge. =)

Tumbler city

Simple, classic garlic bread

Fortunately, the food is entirely satisfying, and really very reasonably priced. The serves are large, and there are pasta, meat and fish options galore.

Rabbit special

Mushroom risotto

Spaghetti!  Nom.

Veal schnitzel with vegies

Fettucine something or other creamy mushroom sauce ish

Simple side salad

Vegie side to the rabbit main

I love Waiter's Club so much that if I could marry a restaurant, I would be well and truly off the market. See you there in ten...

Lane's Edge on Urbanspoon

The Waiters Club / Restaurant on Urbanspoon