"Mum, I know you're stressing, but it'll be ok, I promise, I know this place."
Where are all these people going? It's Tuesday night for goodness sake. What are they doing? My little feet and short legs ache to keep up with the long gait of the blokes. I've put on thick woolly socks to keep my feet warm, but as a result, my "going out boots" are a bit tight on this chilly winters evening. My toes hurt and I'm feeling a tad grumpy. I'm cold, hungry and rushed.
Eyes avert as we dodge religious spruikers, but glance with curiosity at someone dressed in a minotaur mask flanked by two women and being trailed by a young man with a video camera. A student film group perhaps. No time to ponder. Rush past the ever present sellers of The Big Issue and assorted people rattling tins hoping for a donation. (Are they genuine? It could be anyone who has stuck a "Help the Homeless" sticker on a tin.)
Does this place even have a name? Arrive breathless to find a welcome lack of queue which is good, but ... there's a certain aroma that's not so good, possibly old food and lacklustre drains and infrequent garbage disposal. Thankfully my nostrils adjust quickly.
We're directed to a table in the corner. Other diners pull their seats in for us to squeeze snugly past with the sort of familiarly I usually reserve for treasured friends.
Tattered menus are presented without fanfare, no specials board, a faded A4 sheet stickey taped to the chipped yellowing wall advertising a meagre selection of drinks. "Don't bother", says my son, "they never have any. Well just have water." Not concentrating I promptly ask for a bottle of ice-tea. "No have" oh, ok it's not just that they don't have beer or soft drinks, they only have water!
Before I've even opened the sticky, torn and dogeared menu, my son has ordered. "If you don't get in quick you might have to wait" My goodness this is fast - he really does know this place!
While I'm exploring the strategically placed condiments, cheap and cheerful plastic picnic cups, looking for all the world like what we had when we were young, are plonked damply on the recently cleared table. They're followed by a Decor container of water which sloshes gaily across the table adding to the general wetness. Definitely not fine dining!
We begin to exchange pleasantries and barely start to catch up on the week's events when an unflustered, efficient young man unloads plastic plates of slippery dumplings unceremoniously on the table. Did we go into some sort of timewarp? We've only just ordered. They must have had them waiting!
I suspect these young waiters know their physics. They have an unerring ability to slide laden plates of dumplings, known for being a skiddy kind of food, onto the tables without mishap. They know exactly how much thrust is possible to save the diner a lapful of steaming hot, oyster sized, dumpling.
If this place had a motto it'd be
Get em in
Get em out
Like a conjurer, our gently smiling waiter delivers assorted plastic plates of dumplings, from between, behind and over the heads of other diners. They neither notice, nor care, heads bowed over their own plates of squelchy morsels. No words exchanged till the end: "You enjoy?" he asks with concern. He beams when we answer with honest, enthusiastic yesses.
And with time to spare, we make it to the theatre, tummy's full, chatter shared. As for "Dodgy Dumpings", what should to all intents and purposes be a stagnant backwater of Melbournes dining scene, it's a fast food experience that fitted our requirements perfectly.
On a scale of 1 - 10, with with 1 low, and 10 high.
1 - Decor
1 - Presentation
1 - Mindful eating
1 - Tantalising menu
1 - Ambience
10 - Value for money (under $30 for three hungry adults)
10 - Taste
10 - Efficient service
9 - Entertainment value
Next stop, the New Hamer Hall at the Arts Centre to experience the first of the Qatsi Trilogy, Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance with Philip Glass and The Philip Glass Ensemble.
My review of Koyaanisqatsi is over at traverselife.
|Giant vase of gladioli from Dame Edna Everage |
to celebrate the opening of the New Hamer Hall.