Based in the leafy streets of South Melbourne, this hotel pub was my favourite from the first day that I tried the beef and Guinness pie with mash. The service is fantastic, the ambiance is lovely, and the drinks, well, drinks are drinks, but the measure is always generous. I have been going to O'Connells at least once a month for nearly a year, but after a recent trip I might have to find a new fave. Now, normally I am very forgiving, especially if I like a place, and I will just pass a bad meal off as an anomaly, but unfortunately O'Connells, myself and all three of my lunchtime pals were disappointed.
Saturday afternoon after dragging myself around the South Melbourne Market with my boyfriend and his parents we decided it was the perfect day to eat out and we headed to O'Connells. The great thing about O'Connells is that it isn't usually too busy at lunchtime so we managed to score a great spot outside. O'Connells is full locals who return time and time again and greet the bar staff like they are the best of friends, and this all adds to the great atmosphere that I would never criticise. I am however, going to criticise the food.
Gnocchi with shredded lamb in a creamy sauce. It looked nice. The gnocchi tasted like those polystyrene puffy things that you use to pack a fragile parcel with and even after practically coating them in salt, still nothing. If it doesn't taste nice then it's just unnecessary carbs - that's my motto. So the gnocchi went uneaten and the lamb wasn't much better. Tasteless meat with a stringy consistency. I just ate the fries and aioli which were great but they didn't feel my food void. My other half had the beef burger that came with all the standard trimmings. We have both eaten this burger before and raved to our friends about how delicious it was, so it came as a shock when my usually famished food-inhaling boyfriend only ate HALF of his burger. "Are you feeling ok?" I questioned, to which he replied, "Yeah, I just can't eat this. It's no good." It must have been bad.
My boyfriend's father ordered the veal schnitzel. He said it was okay. Experience tells me that this translates to "It's absolutely awful." My boyfriend's mother, a fish fiend, eats at the speed of snail, a very slow snail, so I thought nothing of it when she still hadn't finished her barramundi half an hour after the rest of us had finished. This is normal. She loves barramundi so when she eventually put down her eating utensils and said she had had enough (she was a third of the way through. I told you she was slow) I knew it was going to be a bad verdict. "Terrible," she said.
The food aside, we stayed at O'Connells for another few hours drinking and laughing in the sun. It really is a lovely pub but the food was way below their normal standard. If you asked me if I would go back, I would say yes, but maybe just to drink this time.