Late night munchies.
It's irrelevant that Billy and I have just eaten dinner. Wandering the streets of downtown Melbourne, alive and buzzing on a Friday night, we find new energy and appetite as the touristy but still endearing horse-drawn carriages clip-clop on by, iconic trams clanging bells as they hum past - just like a scene out of The Secret Life of Us.
I'd made no secret of my intent to Billy that I'd wanted to eat at Lord of the Fries. Because how could I not? Lord. Of the FRIES. Not only a celebration of fried food, but oh such punny wordplay on one of my favourite books.
We head down Elizabeth Street and find ourselves distracted by doughnuts. Spanish doughnuts. Churros. Its display case of wares, stacked into mini pyramids, hypnotically draws us in.
Savory cheesybite Vegemite $3.40
Savory and sweet, dipped in chocolate, or piped with filling, there is no end to the excess subjected to these ridged lengths of deep-fried dough. There are ones smothered in chocolate and then drizzled with more; others are shaped into horseshoe loops; the savoury versions come with a cream cheese filling. Churritos are miniature in length, served with pots of molten dark milk or white chocolate for dipping.
Savory cream cheese churro $3.40
Go for gold, I tell Billy, and he nods and orders the most decadent one we can find.
Nuts gourmet bonbon filled with caramel $3.95
The nuts gourmet bonbon filled with caramel is not for the diabetic. The chocolate-dipped baton is engorged with caramel and then smothered in a thick forest of crushed peanuts.
Billy snaps it open for the "money shot", the thick centre of caramel lazily stretching apart.
It's painfully sweet - even the savoury foil of peanuts is no match for the sugar-coma of caramel and chocolate. I'm not a fan of the doughnut itself either, which is a little doughy and chewy in texture--probably not helped by its unknown tenure in the display cabinet--and leaves a slight oily residue on the tongue.
Tray of sampler churro drizzled with caramel sauce
I'm lured back by the offer of free churro samples, these ones piping hot and fresh from the fryer. They're much better in flavour and texture, crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle, although they still feel quite heavy and a tad oily.
The sugar overload only reinforces my search for savoury. Salty greasy savouries, but savoury nonetheless.
Lord of the Fries
The backlit sign for Lord of the Fries is so bright it's almost blinding, a vision of salvation for the drunk and hungry. We approach the E-Street store, the original and first outlet of this Melbourne late night favourite, only to discover that they've just run out of the poutine sauce, and are directed to the Flinders Street branch across the road and around the corner.
Lord of the Fries menu
The queue at the Flinders Street outlet is constant. Almost everyone wants chips - the magic lies in which sauce you choose to douse your serving of deep-fried potato strips. Moving on from the more pedestrian mayonnaise, tomato, satay and barbecue sauce or throw gastronomic caution to the wind with spicy mango chutney and sour cream (Indian), or mayonnaise, peanut sauce and onion (oddly described as Asian).
I have only one target in mind - poutine, the French-Canadian specialty made with melted cheese curds and gravy.
Fries $3.95 with French-Canadian poutine sauce $1.25
The Lord of the Fries poutine isn't really poutine. It's actually grated cheese and gravy, although a response from the Lord of the Fries twitter account to my random tweet explains that "our Poutine has shredded cheese and not the traditional curds because we could not find curd without rennet in it".
Only later do I realise that everything on their menu is vegetarian or vegan. Even though there's no mention of this on the menu board, their burgers, nuggets, pies and sausage rolls are all made from textured vegetable protein. It's a commendable effort although I think they should rename the poutine as a more accurate "gravy with melted cheese".
It's still my idea of heaven. The chips, crunchy and hot, greedily soak up the pool of salty gravy and strings of (rennet-free) cheese. It's perfect late night food. I dig around for all the extra crispy bits buried at the bottom. We perch on the steps across the road at Federation Square, admiring the streetscape of Melbourne by night and the illuminated facade of Flinders Street station, our forks jabbing at fries with slowing speed until our bellies sigh with satisfaction.
Flinders Street station
Grab Your Fork visited Melbourne as a guest of Tourism Victoria for the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival. We visited Spanish Doughnuts and Lord of the Fries anonymously and paid for our meals personally.
> Read the next Melbourne post: Red Spice Road
< Go back to the first Melbourne Food & Wine Festival 2010 post
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Elizabeth Street, Melbourne, Victoria
(near corner of Flinders Street)
Tel: +61 (03) 9654 5577
Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
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Lord of the Fries
Flinders Street Station, Melbourne, Victoria
(on Swanston Street opposite Federation Square)
Monday to Thursday 10am - 10.30pm
Friday 9.30am - 2.30am
Saturday 9.30am - 5am
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E Street Store
2/26 Elizabeth St, Melbourne, Victoria
(corner of Elizabeth and Flinders Street)
Monday to Thursday 11am - 10pm
Friday to Saturday 11am - 4am
Sunday 10.30am - 9pm
Don't forget this Saturday is Earth Hour. At 8.30pm on 27 March 2010, homes, businesses, schools and community groups around the world are encouraged to switch off their lights for one hour as an indication of their awareness and commitment to reducing their carbon footprint.
The concept, which began in Sydney in 2007, saw approximately 2.2 million people and 2,100 businesses participate, with large pockets of our Emerald City plunged briefly into darkness. Since then, Earth Hour has truly gone global. In 2009, 88 countries joined in, and international landmarks like the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and Times Square in New York, switched off their lights. Find out what you can do and get more info here.
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3/24/2010 02:04:00 am