In Queenscliff a fish café that brings inspiration from the east.
“Inspirational Food” is what it says on the business card. Not so dead sure about that, but the food is good, and when the sun shines, there’s not a lot of places I’d rather be. It’s a fish café on the sea.
With friends living in Torquay these days, I’m starting to get to know that tiny part of the world a lot better. The whole Great Ocean Road stretch has become a must visit for a lot of tourists who land in Victoria and want to scour the countryside. From one end to the other, it’s replete with spectacular ocean and country vistas, and the food world is scrabbling to keep up.
In winter and the off season though, some places still have a quiet calm that belies the pumping crowds of summer. So it was interesting for me to suss out the Wharf development – which has been there for a while – and has had a bit of a bumpy ride.
There’s quite a choice of venue, but we headed to the big place on the end which has had several owners and crashes, and is now 360q. Just beside the tower where visitors can see the lie of the land from a great height, this space had been closed for a while as well after one particularly big restaurant crash.
It’s had a facelift, and with a beautiful aisle of wood and wines that flank the corridor to the side, it gives the impression of luxury, and a big wine focus. We had trouble finding the entrance, which was a bit bizarre, and noticed another guest struggling later with the same conundrum.
What is that about? They need a sign!
Anyway, we sat outside, it was quiet and late – after 1pm, but we still experienced good service, really good food, and it was reasonable. Beginning with the wine – A Mount Langi Ghiran ‘Cliff Edge Pinot Gris’, 2013, from the Grampians at $40. Now that’s what a bloody restaurant wine should cost. I am so over paying $60 for a $10 bottle of plonk. Really.
We wanted to share and taste, so ordered 4 entrees between the three of us, and avoided the oysters which were expensive at $12.50 for 3. The potato and pea samosas with tamarind jam and fresh mint chutney, $15.50; Funky duck fritters with black berry chutney $16.50; Prawn potsticker dumplings with a dipping sauce of black vinegar, soy, garlic & spring onions $16.50; and the Crispy Banh xeo (Vietnamese rice pancake) with crunchy salad and pork belly $18.50.
The samosas were house made, and hot, spicy with that gorgeous besan flour crust which for me is the sign of a great snack. Haven’t got a photo because I was a pig and ate them before I thought about the review. Sorry. The pancake was a standout – filled with fresh sprouts, herbs, pork and a wonderful take on this Vietnamese street food.
The gyoza, or pot stickers, were filled with porky ginger goodness, and fresh as well. The only let down was the funky ducks! They were a bit overcooked, if you look at the photo – the outside is almost black, so they were dry as well. Shame.
The servings were not large, but enough, and Marie and I decided to share the Persian spiced crème brulée with orange and pistachio bark.
At $12.50, a reasonable price for a dessert, and it matched the description, and was a creamy, sweet, crunchy treat that I would come back for anytime. The pinot held its own against the spicy flavours. We looked at the menu, trying to gage why it was a “hooked on fish café” and there it was, in the mains. Barramundi, mussels, flathead, salmon, whiting, plus a selection of meat and vego dishes from $29 to the $38 mark for the Black Angus porterhouse.
And yes, they have the top of the range wines in locked display cases in that corridor, but a reasonable selection of well priced wines when you don’t want to break the bank. I hope this iteration in what has appeared to be a difficult location lasts the distance.
While the competition is killing these days, and I hate to think of the rents these guys must be paying, I love to see someone having a really good crack. Good service, an interesting menu handled well, reasonable prices, and best of all, a wine list that won’t bleed you white. Is that an issue for you guys as well?
360Q Fish Cafe / 2 Wharf Street Queenscliffe VIC 3225 / Ph: 03 5257 4200 / Open 7 days / $$$