Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Asian Beer Cafe (Cho Gao), Melbourne CBD by Bureaucrat

For Ms K's farewell lunch, we went to the Asian Beer Cafe (which, until very recently was called Cho Gao). I wasn't aware that ABC existed within the Melbourne Central shopping centre. However, as we went up to the third floor, I realised that prior to ABC coming to existence, the 100 Mile Cafe used to be there.


My first impression was 'hmm'. In particular, that I was 'hmming' about was the anime/manga drawings of large breasted, nubile women serving beer. I mean, puh-lease! Was a sexually frustrated 17 year old teen responsible for this decor (or a 40 year old virgin)?


Inside, it's quite a large space, with separate areas which were decorated in different Asian decor. It's actually quite nice - I can imagine having drinks with friends here. My guess is that this nice decor was a legacy of the previous owner. While the new owners are ones that presumably added the anime/manga drawings. It's a very wierd contrast.

Second wierd thing was the service. We walked in and it's kinda dark. There was no one there to greet us. So we rambled up to the bar, where we were told that we could sit inside (as per our original booking). If we sat inside, there was table service but you couldn't order the special lunchtime pizza deals and there was a minimum spend per person.


However, if we chose to sit outside on the balcony (overlooking Swanston and LaTrobe Streets), there wasn't a minimum spend, you could order the pizza special but there was no table service.

As it was a balmy day, we chose to sit outside. For most of us, we went with the $15 lunch time deal, where you can order a selected range of dishes with a soft drink.

Ms K, Mr JH and I went for the lemongrass chicken...


...I opted for it to be served with rice,


but you can also choose roti w satay sauce...


...or chilli wedges. The chicken was average. The rice was warmish. Mr JH said the satay sauce tasted rather unappetising. We also got some edame pods to nibble on.


Ms K also got the deconstructured spring rolls. I'm not sure how much this was, but I don't think it was good value. I mean, that plate doesn't amount to much ingredients.


Mr RH went for a curry. I can't remember what it was. But like the lemongrass chicken, Mr RH thought it was kinda sort of average too.


Mr S went and ordered something off the main menu. Soft shell crabs and a serve of roti to go with it. When it came it, it was a soft shell crab. Single. One crab. That's it. And lots of tempura pumpkin and sweet potato. As with the deconstructured spring rolls, this also looked like a rip-off. I don't think Mr S felt full after his meal!


Mr SH pad thai jai (vegetarian rice noodles) with a serve of roti. And once again, the verdict was that it was kinda near average.


Ms W went for the pizza special - in this case, a tandoori chicken pizza. A few tried some of it. Going from the comments, this seemed to be the better dish.


She also got an entree of buffalo wings, which was okay and was apparently had packed quite a kick.

Verdict
Food – 4
Ambience – 6.5
Service – 6
Price – 6

Overall
I get the strong feeling that ABC is trying to come across as a sexually sophisticated and cosmopolitan hangout. Instead, it comes across as clunky and painfully embarassing (have a read of the cocktails menu... it's hilarious because they obviously think they're being so witty).

Food-wise, it was barely scraping in as average. It's a shame, because this could be such a great place. Instead, the current owners are clearly aiming for the lowest denominator and hoping that they can get away with charging slightly above-average prices for below-average food and drinks (my lemonade was more ade than lemon...makes you wonder why they even bother offering the drinks with lunchtime deals).

Also, it took forever for the food to come out. Some of us had finished our meals before the rest were served.

Avoid this place. Can't wait for some new owners to bring this place up to its full potential.

Address
Asian Beer Cafe (Cho Gao)
Melbourne Central Shopping Centre
Level 3, 211 La Trobe St

Cho Gao on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

katy_em said...

i don't blame you for not liking it. i didn't either.

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