43 Bridge Mall, Ballarat
Phone: (03) 5331 2683
One of the bonuses of driving all the way to Dunkeld to dine at the Royal Mail Hotel was I got to visit Ballarat for the first time in my life. When I was in Year 7, my best friend moved to Ballarat. I was pretty sad about it, because he was, well, my best friend. In hindsight, I probably had something of a crush on him too, but I was a little too naive to know exactly how that works back then.
When he would tell me over the phone about Ballarat, how it was a lot colder there, and it the landscape was hilly, and the town was much bigger than Swan Hill, I somehow built up in my mind that it was something like the rolling hills somewhere in England, with pine forests and lots of owls. I think I was reading a lot of the Famous Five back then.
In any case, on our way back from Dunkeld on the Sunday afternoon, @eatnik, @meatnik and I stopped in Ballarat for lunch. It being a country town, a lot of places weren’t open. And us being a little hung over and indecisive, we wandered aimlessly around looking for somewhere to eat. At first, there was talk of regional (Victorian) Chinese food – something with which I have a lot of experience – but then as we wandered through the town, the town hall bells pealing at every turn, we settled on the idea of something even more pedestrian; @eatnik wanted a toasted tomato and cheese sandwich.
Not surprisingly, we headed downhill. In more ways than one. We wound up in the Bridge St Mall. You may not have been to Ballarat, but you know this mall. Every medium-to-large sized town in Australia has one. It has some rather unappealing shops, a bunch of ATMs, and it’s probably where you’ll find the local Medicare office. And it has cafes. The one we stopped in at was the Capri.
Once we were seated, we were promptly told that the grill had just been closed down (it was rather late in the afternoon) but that things like focaccias were still available. Which was fine by us. I was ‘feeling healthy’, so I ordered the roast vegetable focaccia. What I didn’t realise, because I was facing the wrong way, and not looking at the sandwich bar, was that regardless of what focaccia or sandwich I ordered, it was going to be laden with the plasticky margarine from a tub that can fairly be described as a bucket. That being said, the focaccia was not bad, though I it was also nothing special. It fit the cafe perfectly.
I was feeling healthy, but I was also feeling hungry. So I made the sorry mistake of ordering a bowl of chips, and watched with dread as the waitress excised the chips from the heated display case at the front of the cafe. Bad chips. But that didn’t stop the three of us from too many of them.
@eatnik got her wish – a toasted tomato and cheese sandwich on white bread. Complete with plastic margarine. She was satisfied. So much so that she took to telling the elderly locals on her way to the restroom that they weren’t bitches.
In the same vein, @meatnik had the ham and cheese toasted sandwich.
There’s nothing wrong with this place, if you take it for what it is – a pretty standard cafe in a country town.They might actually have produced some great food when their kitchen was open too, but I’m not sure I’ll be back in Ballarat any time soon to find out.