Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.



There are two kinds of restaurants in Melbourne - ones that are so edgy you think you're going to cut yourself on the furniture and others that haven't changed since cocky was an egg (old farm expression my grandfather used to use).

Romeo's is in the latter category, all dark timber walls and furniture, waitpeople wearing black and white and smiling, menu ignoring a generation of food trends. We visited again the other day after a long hiatus, maybe ten years.

Toorak Village was basking in sunshine, early on a golden autumn afternoon. (It has been unusually warm for two glorious weeks in Melbourne; as if to make up for the rainy, unpredictable summer.) We walked past the fashion shops, the galleries, the Post Office and the book shop and took a window seat at Romeo's.

T. ordered the spinach lasagne while I chose the Caesar salad. The lasagne is a house specialty - pasta, tomato, spinach and bechamel in perfect balance. Just as I remember it. Romeo's version of Caesar rises about ten inches off the plate. I kept finding more egg, bacon, anchovies and croutons hidden in a jungle of cos, generously oiled with mayo.

Afterwards, we had coffee (decaf. for T.) as the Number 8 tram trundled up towards Glenferrie Road.

'Everything OK?' asked Nick behind the bar as I paid the bill.

'Perfect. Just the same as ten years ago,' I replied.

'Nothing changes here except my hairstyle,' he smiled, pointing to his receding hairline.

We emerged into the sunshine and strolled along Toorak Road. The Number 8 was clanging across Grange Road on its return trip to the city.

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