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Monday, 22 December 2014

Lazerpig Pizza Parlour

It sounded cool. Pizza - which, as everyone knows, can be amazing when done properly - in a favourite old haunt of mine in Collingwood, just one block down from Smith St, with fluoro lights and even a disco ball, to boot. But there were a few things about Lazerpig Pizza Parlour (9-11 Peel St, Collingwood) that just didn't sit right with me.

Occupying the site that used to house a great (albeit quiet) little pub, the Star, halfway down the notorious Peel St, Lazerpig is in a fairly accessible Collingwood spot. Its corner entrance is clearly marked by a fluorescent flying pig overhead. I'm yet to find a good explanation of the restaurant name (possibly something to do with gaming?!) - but it's certainly memorable.

Lazerpig is the newest venture of the Grace Darling crew, which I found surprising, because I thought the Grace Darling was a fairly classic operation, and I didn't get the impression Lazerpig was being run very well, when I was there. Service was haphazard, verging on rude - it was hard to flag staff down to order or pay. (Rude staff is actually something both venues share, come to think of it.) We were seated in a dodgy table near the steps, which meant every time someone passed, we nearly toppled over.


The look they are going for is somewhere between traditional Italian trattoria, American ranch, and '70s disco dive bar. Think red checkered tablecloths, low lighting, exposed brick walls, taxidermy, old antique pictures, fluoro signs, disco ball. I found it all very entertaining, but at the same time didn't feel very comfortable. I'm not even sure what kind of occasion this place would be good for. Loud raucous group dinner? It's too loud for a date. Drinking with a side of pizza? Apparently they do DJ nights and stuff... makes sense with the disco ball. (I know I'm mentioning that a lot - it's probably the coolest bit. To me.)

The Italiano

The food is supposed to be the saving grace here and although the pizza names were fun (The Fun Guy for a mushroom pizza, the Prawn Fraser, etc), I didn't find the food amazing either. We shared an entree of fried whitebait which was tasty, but a bit samey, and came out lukewarm. The pizzas were good - I did enjoy my Broc Steady, featuring broccoli and zucchini, something different on a pizza - but frankly I prefer the Baden Powell's, a few blocks away (even though you have to slice them yourself there!).

Broc Steady

Most places I blog about, I tend to hit up twice before blogging. This gives me a better idea of the overall feel, and I don't like making false accusations based on circumstances of one particular night.* But I think I got a pretty good idea of Lazerpig, and honestly, I don't have any real desire to return. I'm sure it's a hit with some funky hipsters, but there wasn't enough goodness there to entice me back anytime soon. Shame, since it had seemed so promising.

Lazerpig is open seven days a week.

Lazerpig Pizza Parlour on Urbanspoon

*Disclaimer! I would just like to clarify that I have never claimed to be a professional critic, and most of the time in my blog posts, I hardly mention the food - what would I know about food preparation? I just eat it! Nevertheless, I go out often enough that I can compare and contrast what I liked or didn't like about certain venues: considering their decor, service, accessibility, price, atmosphere. THAT'S the aim of this blog: to share what I think about places I've been. Please don't call me a food blogger!

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Jinda Thai Restaurant

Cheap Asian food is something I grew up with in Sydney. Melbourne is often touted as having a better dining scene than Sydney (medium-range and fine dining -- absolutely! -- well, in my experience), but even after nearly six years here, I still find Melbourne lacking in the cheap-but-great-quality-Asian-food category. And I'm not talking pan-Asian: I'm talking specific to one cuisine only, (Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese, Malaysian, etc). I still find it upsetting when I go to a Japanese restaurant and find Pad Thai on the menu, or something similar. I feel a restaurant should do one cuisine well, rather than try to pander to the tastes of patrons who may not yet be familiar with that cuisine. Use it as an opportunity to educate! Let your customers experience one of the last genuine representations of culture: food!

Happily, Jinda Thai (1-7 Fergus St, Abbotsford) is genuine, great-quality Thai food (only) at quite reasonable prices. It was opened in July 2013 by the owners of two Krua Thai venues. After a prompt write-up in Broadsheet, its patronage went through the roof, and it was very difficult to get a table. I'm not sure of its current status of busy-ness, but Jinda's Facebook page advises that it actually does take bookings. I have attempted to get in twice without a booking (once successful, once not!), so I am happy to learn that this is one Melbourne restaurant bucking the no-bookings trend.

Since it is down a side street just before Victoria Street's notorious strip of restaurants, you wouldn't really know Jinda was there unless you went seeking it. It also has a very unassuming-looking entrance. So it is surprising, once you find it, to see how large a space the restaurant inhabits.

Light and airy, the height and depth of the restaurant helps alleviate the chaos of all the bodies inside. There are a few kitsch Thai touches: carved wooden furniture, lanterns, flowery cushions, big portraits hanging on the walls, blackboard specials in curly Thai-style script; and a few industrial: large windows, exposed brick, warm paint colours. Basically, it's a really big room crammed with tables that somehow manages to feel warm and rustic, despite its size.

On my visit, service was friendly, but not exactly accurate. A few items of our order were buggered up - but rectified once brought to staff's attention. Fortunately, the quality of the food made up for any errors. My coeliac, vegetarian friend didn't have a heap of options, but they were able to adapt something for him. I only wish I'd written down the names of the dishes for you. Sorry! but they still look pretty mouth-watering, right?

Soft shell crab


Thai green curry

Prawn thingies

Drunken or drowning something ??

Pad see ew

Dipping sauce

I would recommend trying Jinda with a big group of young-ish people (and a booking!) on a weeknight, when it's not so busy. With a bit of patience, you will get to enjoy some great food.

Jinda is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week, and takes cash only.

Jinda Thai Restaurant on Urbanspoon