57 Swan St Richmond, VIC 3121
|Opening hours||Mon Closed, Tue-Sat 12:00 PM – 3:00 AM, Sun 12:00 PM – 1:00 AM|
|Features||Accepts bookings, Vegetarian friendly, Gluten-free options, Outdoor seating, Licensed, Bar|
|Prices||Cheap (mains under $20)|
|Payments||eftpos, Cash, Visa, Mastercard|
|Phone||03 9427 9198|
Let another year of eating Melbourne begin, and where better than at the Corner Hotel, a treasured live music venue with a sprawling, buzzing, newly renovated rooftop dining area.
It's one of those highly congenial "we've got you covered" scenarios: there's indoors and outdoors, smoking and non-smoking, stools and seats, a warm welcome for kids and a sanguine understanding that grown-ups can get semi-rowdy. Bookings are welcomed, including for private parties.
Order at the bar and take a number; your food will find you. The menu is a clever document that keeps things pretty pubby (fried, fatty) but adds a few flourishes for salad fans and modern vegetarians.
Large dishes to share are a highlight. Whole roasted eggplant is smooshed with quark (a continental cream cheese), herby almond bits and pomegranate. There's house-made flatbread to scoop it all up.
Glossy pork hock arrives in the piece: spike it with two forks and it falls apart into sticky strands, then cram it into soft buns with caraway-seed-strewn coleslaw and pickles. It's rich, messy and fabulous.
Apparently fried chicken is still kicking on in 2017. There are three renditions of it here: in a burger, shareable and whole, and as tasty little nuggets served with kimchi mayonnaise. There's no doubting the easy flavour wins with fowl and hot oil so I guess it will stay ubiquitous.
Keeping life fried, there are pork scratchings (think puffed crackling) piled over corn puree and lime. The accompaniments are cool but the pig isn't as crunchy as it needs to be.
Better are the Codfish Shanty Fritters named, I think, after a folk song that begins "Melbourne girls, they have no combs /Heave away, heave away / They comb their hair with cod-fish bones." To be clear, I've never combed my hair with any kind of fish bone but I have enjoyed these fritters swiped through charred lemon mayonnaise.
This is a quinoa-free zone but there is a suggestion of ancient grains in the Roasted Bloody Beetroots salad. Along with the oozy red beets, there are pert lentils, nutty rye grains and barley. Don't say "superfood" but feel free to say "delicious". Also tasty and meat-free (though swimmingly oily) is the orecchiette pasta with greens, mustard, chilli flakes and grated salted ricotta.
The Corner rooftop is the perfect place to make – or break – New Year's resolutions. Sitting on a bench seat looking across to the train tracks, a Patti Smith burger in one hand, a sunset squint to help you look wise and thoughtful, where else would you want to contemplate life? Me, I'm musing on coming back for more of that pork hock: if there's any food in town that might help a body recover from a hangover, that is it.
Rating: Three and a half stars (out of five).
Go-to Dish: Whole smoked pork hock, $45.