A weekend late (very late) birthday treat with Lee saw us cruising Crown on a Sunday lunchtime looking for fish. We'd just spent a couple of hours in Melbourne Aquarium to see the baby hammerhead sharks, and seafood was the order of the day. You know your fate is sealed when you stand at an aquarium window staring at a large octopus, and the only three words that come to mind are: Lemon. Oregano. Chargrilled.
Sadly, Waterfront is gone forever, replaced by the shell of a new restaurant called Atlantic Bar & Grill. So we wandered into Giuseppe, Arnaldo's no later than noon to see what they could do for us.
It's a funky place with a serious pedigree, and I have heard nothing but good stuff about the place. On a 40C day in the city, we sat alongside the strange folding windows, opened out to show a sleepy riverfront, and the coolness of the interior still won out. The wait staff in their butcher's coats, jeans and Converse were attentive but not overpowering, and it didn't take us long to order two plates of the spaghetti with crab.
The wine list didn't really attract for wines by the glass, so I went with the house red, a tempranillo blend straight from the tap behind the bar. It worked. Beside us, a man about my own age entertained a gorgeous young four- or five-year-old to lunch. She sat imperiously at table, knowing how good she looked in that hairband with the huge pink flower, and looked like she was pretty good company.
Behind me the big salami showcase glistened, and we are not sure how we succeeded in not ordering a plate of everything, with a hunk of the fresh artisan bread lining the walls beyond. But we stuck to our guns, and awaited our pasta.
Not sure why the pasta was served wrapped in a baking sheet parcel. It was a lovely, garlicky, tomatoey pasta sauce with plenty of fresh crab meat, and I just know it was only in that oven for a few minutes. It didn't need to be oven-baked. But the visual impact was pretty good on arrival, even if the baking parchment then got in the way for the rest of the meal.
The pasta was too saucey for Lee. I didn't know what she meant. There is no such thing as too much sauce for me.
At the next table, a couple chose the chicken cacciatore which looked and smelled amazing. Nearby, somebody else chose the Sunday roast - suckling pig. Now, that looks like a dish to come back for.
I can't comment on the value for money, as lunch was Lee's treat, but the menu looked tempting enough for a second, more leisurely, visit another time.