Riverfront, 70 Lorimer Street, South Wharf, Melbourne
(03) 9681 8289
A casual afternoon lunch with friends on a sunny Melbourne Sunday. Where to go? Initially I balked at the idea of Docklands, even on such a perfect day. Everybody knows that despite the developers' and Melbourne City Council's best efforts, Docklands is a wasteland, and only barely acceptable for about three weeks of the year when the wind is at its lowest and the mercury at its highest.
But no, this little gem of a place is on South Wharf, over the curly pedestrian bridge from Docklands proper, or a pleasant 10-minute stroll west along the river from the Polly Woodside. If you are a shopper, it's less than five minutes walk from the South Wharf DFO complex. The tables outside face north, so they are a bit of a sun-trap, with a small marina spread out in front, and city views all around. Perfect.
Over the course of four hours we grazed on perfectly-cooked thin-crust margherita pizza, fresh and flavoursome thai beef and black-seared tuna salads, generous panini, a pretty stunning Aussie burger, and a couple of excellent Jamaican dishes - curried goat and Jamaican-style snapper with pumpkin rice and okra.
One of the co-owners here is Jamaican, and on the third Sunday evening of the month they host a West Indian evening. We missed the last one being out of town, but February's is firmly in the diary.
The wait staff were lovely. Well, I admit one of them was the daughter of the friends with whom we were eating, but the other waiter didn't know who we were initially, and was most welcoming and accommodating. On paying our bill, one of the owners looked after us, and his civility gave us every reason to give him our custom again.
I have to say the pizzas alone are worth the wander down to this little-known corner of Melbourne city, and I know it is going to become a bit of a regular haunt for us.
So if you're looking for a new corner of Melbourne with some pretty good food and a laid-back riverside vibe, head down to Loading Dock. It's worth the detour.