6 Errol Street
Armed with The Age Cheap Eats Guide 2008, Hugh and I ventured to Errol Street for a casual lunch at Fandango (#97). The Guide promised good food for a budget price, and on a Sunday too. The cafe has since ditched Sundays, so, tummies rumbling, we wandered back towards the city. We poked our heads in at French Quarter Patisserie (570 Queensberry Street), but the lunch offerings were meagre. (I'll head back there for afternoon tea one day.)
We put away the Guide and opted for Verve, an unlisted cafe. Ordered coffee and hot chocolate while pondering the modest menu. The coffee was spilt on the floor in a clumsy collision between the waiter and me. We were off to a bad start, but they kindly made another coffee and good-naturedly mopped up the mess. Phew. The hot chocolate tasted OK, but it was nothing special.
Hugh ordered the chicken schnitzel focaccia with sun-dried tomatoes, baby spinach and other fillings, while I opted for an unadventurous croissant with tomato and cheese. The waitress informed us they'd run out of chicken schnitzel, but that they could offer the same thing with "chicken meat" instead. Sure, why not?
The food was slow to appear, so I had time to watch the preparation of other lunches while talking to my companion. The kitchen was equipped with only two microwaves and a sandwich press. The $7.50 "homemade soup" was poured from a large plastic Tupperware container and heated in the microwave. I'd rather bring my own, at that price. A customer ordered a takeaway soup, and was offered a tall milkshake cup of the stuff. One waitress jokingly asked whether she'd "like a straw with that".
My toasted croissant ($6.50) was fine, although I can get the same thing (plus ham) for only $4 at uni during the week. Hugh, part-way through his meal, found a couple of pink-looking chicken pieces, and noted an usual flavour. He left the iffy chicken on his plate, and we later washed away the memory with bottles of apple cider purchased elsewhere.
One of the waitresses was particularly sensitive about our wait for the food; her touchiness further detracted from an already deflating cafe experience.