183 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne
Phone: 9663 3316

Stalactites is an institution. For years, it’s been a go-to destination, usually at about 2am, and maybe it’s more of a stumble-to destination.

Mr D and I were wandering around the city looking for somewhere to eat, with the caveat of ‘not-Asian’. We were both hungry, and feeling indecisive, which often leads to bad decisions. Bad decisions which usually come about with Mr D making a half-joking suggestion of somewhere rather mediocre to eat, and me taking that as a challenge and heartily accepting. It’s like that episode of the Wonder Years where Mr and Mrs Arnold are picking out drapes. He picks something he likes, she picks something she likes, and then they settle on something nobody on earth could possibly like.

Not that nobody on earth could possibly like Stalactites. That would be a harsh and unfair assessment. There are plenty of things to like… the faux cave interior, the cramped tables, the brusque and desultory service, and the screaming children which come along with the territory of eating at a family-friendly tourist trap. Oh, wait, I’m still being harsh; my bad. But honestly, I think Stalactites is one of those places that does one thing well, which is serve up a good souvlaki.

This visit, I had the open lamb souvlaki. Which, when it arrived the first time, wasn’t open. I don’t know about you, but I feel a little odd ordering from a menu and getting a souvlaki in a paper bag on a plate. So I sent it back, and another one came out pretty quickly.

Like I said, Stalactites does one thing well, and that’s souvlaki. Juicy lamb, with plenty of those dark, charred, salty edges, and a good amount of salad and garlic sauce. If you’re on a date, you might want to avoid the garlic sauce. We thought things might be a bit meaty, so ordered a side of chicory.
Which was pretty disappointing. It had been boiled till it was soft and had lost any semblance of freshness. Even the addition of lemon juice wasn’t enough to bring it to life. Like I said: one thing done well. Chicory was not it.

So go to Stalactites if you must, but don’t go expecting anything more than a good souvlaki. I recommend the takeaway option.

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