In a sentence this place serves student-y food at student-unfriendly prices. The food quality here (apart from the beautiful lava cakes) was somewhat lacking, or perhaps my expectations were hyped up by the beautifully designed menu and interior.
Their table setting and casual vibe are pretty similar to the buckets you find at the Roadhouse in Dempsey.
It’s not that the food is not decent, I had one of their $19 lunch sets (one main, one drink, and one side) – tomato soup, linguine carbonara, and iced chocolate.
The tomato soup was pretty velvety but a little hopped up on sugar. They puree canned tomatoes (can’t get really good fresh tomatoes here). A little cream couldn’t hurt here, and more croutons for textural contrast.
The carbonara was average, much better than chains like pasta mania/yomenya goemon etc. but nothing special. You can just pop over to La Nonna next door for better pastas. The noodles were al dente but the sauce lacked kick. And it was supposed to be served with a poached egg but you can see that they forgot about it entirely – I think perhaps one of the chefs was not around; on the day I went they seemed to be struggling with all the orders even though there weren’t that many customers. To be fair I didn’t raise the matter (the service was already so slow!); they would probably have rectified it.
The iced chocolate was nice enough. Rocky Master still does the best iced chocolate in these parts.
L and I also shared a prawn sandwich with herbed mayo. It’s supposed to be served with a lemon wedge. The prawns were freshly fried, which were nice with the mayonnaise. But that certainly isn’t herbed mayonnaise, nor was there any lemon anywhere. I don’t think it’s nice to have such an extensive, descriptive menu with beautiful descriptions of exactly what your customer will get, and then not deliver. If you were going to forget all the fixings with my sandwich, or if you ran out of any particular condiment, you should make a note of it when the customer is ordering. While I wasn’t really bothered by it, this was really quite unprofessional.
The best part of the meal, and possibly the one thing I would return here for, is the lava cake. Wow! They manage to do it better than the Disgruntled Chef. The cake just oozed richness, even though the vanilla ice cream it came with was lacklustre.
Note that it took nearly half an hour for them to get our food on the table – the tomato soup was one of the last, and we had to remind them about the iced chocolate. We were having a weekday lunch there (i.e. all their customers probably need to get back to work at some point and food should be served asap, obviously). In the Holland V Crystal Jade it probably takes 15 minutes for all your dishes to arrive).
In general I feel somewhat sorry for the management, as the place seems understaffed at the moment, so probably they weren’t on top form when I was there. I’ll probably visit again to try their all day breakfasts! They also have 3-4 different flavours of lava cakes – hazelnut, Bailey’s, etc. but they are on the pricey side ($9.50 each, Bailey’s is extra). You can’t fault their execution though. We spent about $45 between the two of us, which we felt would have been better spent elsewhere in Holland V.