The Waiters Restaurant is as Melbourne as it comes – hidden away in a CBD lane-way, with the entrance so understated that you would pass it without knowing. You find yourself climbing a few flights of an old staircase, and then entering a room which screams original 1950’s decor – wood Laminex tables and cushioned brown vinyl chairs. No written menu, your eyes rely on the blackboards hanging on the walls. Originally called ‘The Waiters Club’, it opened as a go-to place for the Italian and Spanish hospitality workers to grab a drink, a bite and a late hour unwind accommodating irregular industry knock-off times. It’s been said that the restaurant used to be so exclusive to the industry that a password was needed to enter, hence it’s original name.
Being such an understated and authentic restaurant with a strong reputation, I was looking forward to a rustic version and hoped it would be the kind to leave me quiet and just humming to my food (always a good sign). It arrived. The moment of truth.
The presentation was as humble as the restaurant’s appearance – brown with not much decoration. The sauce was stirred through, so that was a win.
First bite and I was underwhelmed. The meat was tender and delicious, but it was thick with not enough liquid surrounding, making it quite dry. Also lacking was a more tomatoey flavour, which was my suspicion as I noted the dark brown colour on arrival. Being a very meat dominated sauce, an aftertaste became noticeable. Also lacking was seasoning. I liked the subtlety of chili which cut through the meat, and the delicacy of the pasta which was just on al dente.
This spaghetti bolognese was no disaster, it just wasn’t the balance of meat-to-tomato flavour that I enjoy. Nor was the texture of the sauce my preference. Though it was more than acceptable, it is not one of the best in Melbourne in my eyes. But hey, there are obviously many people that enjoy the pastas here – it’s been open for 65 years, and that says a lot.
Do you prefer a more meat or tomato dominated sauce? Feel free to leave your comments below about anything spag bol!