Village Melbourne, or what was previously known as the Belgian Beer Garden/Cafe on St Kilda Road is hosting “Trailer Park” throughout August and September – A gathering of food trucks in a courtyard setting with seating and a bar.
Side Note: I still don’t see the point of changing the name when the signs all say ‘ex- Beligan Beer Cafe’ anyway, and everyone who goes there says ‘you know, the Belgian Beer Cafe’. Frankly I regard it with about as much disdain as the change from the perfectly sensible “Spencer St Station” to the much ridiculed “Southern Cross”. But anyway.
To me this seemed immediately like a great idea, despite it still being a little chilly. Food trucks are a fun and still semi-novel concept, but I’ve hardly ever eaten from them because I hardly ever know where they are and even when I do know, they tend not to be in areas that I’m in much. I’ve never just randomly happened to pass one. Also I had it in my head that a gathering of food trucks would be something like a cross between a food court and a buffet, where I could try small portions from the various trucks and have a bit of everything rather than going to a cafe and buying a focaccia.
I was wrong on that count. The standard food truck menus are designed for when they are roaming around Melbourne, offering a limited range of lunch alternatives, and given the restricted flexibility compared to a normal kitchen they didn’t change these offerings for the occasion at all. So really, you still only got to pick one thing (like a burger, or curry and rice) unless you were sharing with friendly friends.
The trucks present on this visit were
- The Curry Truck
- Beatbox Kitchen
- Gumbo Kitchen
- The Brulee Cart
Dear friend #1 chose Shroom Burger from Beatbox Kitchen, which she seemed to enjoy. I got a beef quesadilla and additional sweet corn from Cornutopia (the girl asked me if I wanted butter and salt on my corn, does anyone seriously say no??) to share, and Lucky ordered a pork belly po’ boy from gumbo kitchen.
To start with it was a rainy and cold day, the opening weekend of Trailer Park, and there had been some power supply issues which meant the hotplates had all turned off for a while and now all the truck/kitchens were seriously behind on their orders. Beatbox Kitchen told Friend there was about a 15 minute wait (it actually ended up being about 10), so she came and sat with me in the tent under the gas heater. Cornutopia was extremely apologetic and told me about 15 mins also, although it was slightly longer I think, but I also went back to the tent and sat in the warmth and waited. The quesadilla was just as it should be, well toasted all the way through and nice and crispy around the edges. Corn was cut off the cob and served in a bowl, which wasn’t as fun. But Gumbo Kitchen was THE MOST DISAPPOINTING.
Not only did they not give Lucky any warning of the wait (he stood 30 mins in the cold and on/off rain waiting), they didn’t make any sort of apology for keeping all their customers waiting, and the product was ‘meh’ at best. While the actual pork belly was pretty tasty (it rarely isn’t) the whole sandwich was really about 80% bread. There was one slab of pork belly and half a large pickle just whacked in there with some “coleslaw” (which was just shredded red cabbage with no dressing) and a messy glob of mustard that only covered 1/4 of the bread and leaked out everywhere inside the wrapping getting on the outside of the bread.
Eating it consisted more or less of trying to get as little mustard as possible on your hands, whilst squishing the solitary piece of pork and pickle around inside the roll trying to be able to get a small bite of each with each mouthful of dry bread.
We weren’t impressed