Parkville Store

52 Morrah St, Parkville

I’m a pretty lazy guy, especially in Winter. So when I discovered the Parkville Store, a mere two blocks from my office, in the residential back blocks of genteel Parkville, I was a little excited. From the outside, it looks like a milk bar. And it is a milk bar. Just not only a milk bar. It’s a pretty classic example of a neighbourhood ‘mixed business’, run by a lovely older Greek couple. They serve up an array of homemade dishes which change daily. I associate the style of food there with visiting friends’ houses for dinner when I was growing up in rural Victoria; things like moussaka, quiche, roast chicken, and lasagne. Vaguely Mediterranean Western food is the phrase that comes to mind. Which isn’t exactly homely to me, but still evokes a certain nostalgia. Nostalgia of swimming pools in summer, climbing jacaranda trees, and that time Andrew accidentally put two prongs of a rake in my leg while we were playing ninja turtles in his backyard. Needless to say, he wasn’t so good at being Donatello, and next time, he had to be Raphael.

I have a friend who is working at the nearby RMH, and so after going to Parkville Store for lunch on my own to do some recon, I suggested we meet there for lunch one day. I was feeling a little vegetarian that day – his name was Roberto, no I jest – so I went for the zucchini slice. It was tasty and warming, the way you expect such a dish made by a yiayia would be. The salad was also quite nice – fresh and refreshing, with the exception of the adorable use of tinned beetroot. Don’t get me wrong, I quite like tinned beetroot, as unrefined as that may sound. Actually, I feel a little SWPL pretentious pointing out the quaintness of the tinned beetroot, so just pretend I didn’t say that.imageMy friend had the roast chicken, with potatoes and roast vegetables. It seemed a little rude to warn him right in front of the yiayia that the vegetables I had on the earlier visit were a bit over-salted, so I’ll just warn you all here. The vegies are a bit over-salted. He was quite happy overall with his lunch. imageAnd as if the place wasn’t kitsch enough, have you noticed the vintage plates? So cool!

Cafe Isabella

Ground Floor, Royal Women’s Hospital, Parkville

Another month, another colleague’s birthday lunch. Not that I’m complaining, because it’s nice to have an excuse to leave the office for an hour or so. This time, we headed to the nearby Royal Women’s Hospital – I know, not a likely place for good food – to have lunch at Cafe Isabella.

Cafe Isabella is more like a cafe which happens to be in a hospital, than a hospital cafe. I imagine it’s something of a flagship outlet for its owners, the Zouki group, who also manage the food court offerings in the RWH/RMH building. The fit out is new and stylish, and the feel is definitely urbane. When we were there, the place wa s full of what I can only assume were hospital officials – it was all a little bit suity. Still, the service is exceedingly good, and the food is pretty good value, with meals ranging between $15-$25.

I had the chicken burger, because I felt like something with chips that day. My only complaint about this burger was that it was a bit too big. I had to chop it in two to manage it without spilling aioli and caramelised onions all over myself. The chips were nice and crispy, if a little on the luke side of warm. I love these wide, flat cut chips, though.

A couple of my colleagues had the stir-fried seafood, which apparently had a bit of spice to it. Both ladies reported that it was nice, but both were a bit perplexed by the lack of rice served with the dish. I’m not sure steamed rice is on the menu as a side, either, but I could be wrong.
Another couple of my colleagues had the Caesar salad, and both were quite happy with it.
Ms M had the fettuccine carbonara, and she was happy with it. The portion looked a little small when it arrived, but being quite a rich dish, it was still quite satisfying.
Ms L had the fish and chips, and was quite happy with it, despite it taking significantly longer to arrive at the table than the rest of our meals.
Ms S had the mushroom and pea risotto, with crispy pancetta. That fancy dark stuff around the edge was an aged balsamic glaze. Out of all the dishes, I thought this was the most impressive, not just because of the presentation, but the risotto looked perfectly cooked, too.
If you happen to be at the hospital, or near it, Isabella isn’t a bad option for a meal. Especially when you consider the other options nearby.