Monday 10 November 2008

Back to uni, back to Garage

Garage Café & Bar
221 Berkeley Street, Carlton (map)
9349 5000

Sorry for the disruption in regular programming: the trip to Perth and my obsession with a certain election have both been distracting me from writing... :)

Garage restaurant

Like I mentioned in my Animal Orchestra review, being back at Melbourne Uni doing a Masters subject last month was a great opportunity to revisit some of my favourite student lunch spots.

Garage is such a venue. It's in Berkeley Street, up towards the Melbourne Uni medical building, and is located in an actual 700 sq metre garage, which gives it a slightly grungy, industrial feel. The guys running the café clearly LOVE cars: Garage hosts Mini Cooper reunions on the second Wednesday of every month, and the photo gallery on the Garage website is just as dedicated to cars as it is to food...

Garage restaurant

Garage is also home to some of the best Indonesian food in Melbourne! It's open Monday to Friday 12pm to 10pm, and Saturday from 5pm to 10pm.

During my week back at uni I went there for dinner with a big group (including the lovely Miss T) after a public lecture on international law, then back again for lunch the next day with A and J.


My absolute favourite dish to order at Garage is the Soto Ayam ($9.50). Ah, Soto Ayam. Garage's Soto Ayam is one of those dishes I start to actively pine for if I haven't had it for a few months... I'd go so far as to say it's in my top 10 favourite dishes in Melbourne!

Which is not to say that Garage's Soto Ayam is one of the top 10 most amazing or complex or spectacular dishes I've ever had in Melbourne, but... it's just REALLY TASTY comfort food. The stock is rich and nourishing and studded with soft pieces of poached chicken, shallots, fresh cabbage and half a boiled egg. It comes served in a bowl with a side order of freshly made sambal soto and steamed rice.

Soto ayam

On the odd occasion when I don't feel like chicken soup, I like to order the Chicken Thai Green Curry (also $9.50). It may not be in a Thai restaurant, but is absolutely delicious nonetheless - with a bit of red capsicum, fried tofu and lashings of bamboo shoots.

Chicken Thai green curry

If you fancy a bit of an Indonesian fry-up, the Nasi Pecel Komplit ($14) gets you fried chicken, tempeh and tofu, with some steamed vegetables, cucumber smeared with home-made peanut sauce and steamed rice.

Nasi pecel komplit

There are also has plenty of options for vegetarians (unlike Indonesian cafe Blok M Express in Little Bourke Street, where vegetarians can sadly only order entrees of gado gado and tempeh!), with Garage offering eight vegetarian mains including these Hokkien Noodles ($8.50).

Garage noodles

This review is for you Miss T... sorry it took me so long! xx :)


Lucy said...

Wow Claire after 4 years at Melbourne uni and many years eating on the North side of town I CANNOT BELIEVE I have never been to Garage! Looks absolutely great... thanks for the tip!

Thanks also for your comment on my blog about Mr Wilkinson! Would love to catch up with you there one night if you're in the area... they have just introduced a limited but yummy menu of bar food so perhaps it will satisfy your foodie cravings... although it's just down the road from George Colombaris' highly anticipated new restaurant 'Hellenic Republic' - so when he finally opens perhaps that would be a good option for dinner beforehand...!

Anyway thanks so much! Lucy x

Anonymous said...

A review dedicated to me! Thank you Claire.

I can't believe I only discovered Garage so late in my law degree but it has a special spot in my heart - must be the combination of food and cars in the same venue, both of which I love. I too have had many a comforting soto ayam. In fact, I'm ashamed to say it's the only thing I've ever ordered ...

claire said...

Cheers Lucy! Will organise a visit (before Hellenic Republic opens!) with a North Side friend soon :)

Hello there Miss T - is it seriously the only thing you've ever ordered?? We'll have to go again soon and have a No Soto Ayam experience... maybe a midweek dinner sometime? xx
ps I met B for hangover pho yesterday, we've got a new Victoria St favourite!

Anonymous said...

This is where I go when I miss my mummy's Indo cooking! (or when College food is slightly less...enticing)

My favourite is also the soto ayam!

Anonymous said...

Went there today after stumbling upon your blog and as a Melbourne Uni student who knows every possible cafe around uni, was shocked i never knew about it! what a little gem! and i ordered soto ayam which was a real warming dish considering Melbourne rainy weather! I have just discovered my favorite blog!
Thank you!


claire said...

Hi L! Glad you loved the soto ayam and that you like the blog. Now that I work in town I don't get to Calton as often as I used to... got any good Carlton recommendations for me? :)

Unknown said...

Hey, this place is great and I was taken there by an Indonesian post grad student a while ago. However, just wondering whether they are open at night or weekend or just during the week on weekdays.