The rules to order a Lune Croissant

Lune-6am

Queues who needs them? I’ve learnt to accept the queues for restaurants on Flinders Lane. I’ll pick an unpopular night and/or time for a visit.

Or I’ll plan a Negroni or two around the corner for the hour or so I have to wait.

Lune Croissant is a different story. People are rising before dawn to queue for croissants (see pics). Not only that they are queueing in the dark and the cold but are leaving empty handed, myself included.

It’s utter madness. And I have several problems with what is going on.

First, of all there is a lot of guesswork as the website doesn’t tell us much apart from it is closed until 5th July for holidays. Usually Lune it is open from 7:30am-9:00am on a Friday and 8:00am – 9:30am on a Saturday or Sunday. Or until the pastries are sold out – about an hour.

Second, there are lots of caveats and rules. Though they are a friendly bunch, the process of buying a croissant is akin to ordering soup from the Soup Nazi.

Our first attempt was on a Thursday morning not realising the limited opening hours.

The second attempt, post spin class, found us arriving at 7.25am on a Friday. We read the rules – only 6 croissants each – handed out to the queue of over 30 people and about 30 minutes later left with our booty, most of which was eaten in the car before we arrived home in St Kilda.

These croissants are good. the ham and cheese croissants are the best. I can take of leave the cruffins.

And for me the real sensation was the kouign amann, a buttery pastry from Brittany the scene of many childhood holidays.

Lune-missed-croissant

We needed to return. And we did but arrived at 7.30am on a Friday – 5 minutes later. After about 15 minutes we discovered from other shivering queue members the rules had changed. We required a ticket as detailed in a poster half way down the queue.

After an hour we missed out and I started to wonder what the hell I was sucked into – queueing for an hour for a croissant with no reward.

The ticket system was introduced to stop queue jumpers and perhaps fist fights between Asian students, the primary force in this skewed croissant economy.

In my book nothing is that good to queue for so long. Nevertheless, there are plenty of people rising at 5.30am and arriving at 7am to queue for a ticket to buy 6 pastries.

I wonder perhaps if they need to introduce an automated ticket system so people can grab pre-queue tickets for the actual queue tickets.

To be honest, I’m annoyed with myself for being sucked into this. Never again. But what croissants.

Lune Croissanterie on Urbanspoon

The Lobster Cave and the confusions of confusions


by Pam and Ed

Imagine you were going to spend $330 on a meal for two.

You could go for a four course a la carté at Vue de Monde for $150 a head (subject to the day and time of the week). You may bust your budget when you order a glass of wine each. Still, you get the full Vue De Monde experience. And the view.

Or you could visit the Tuesday night Chef’s Table at Attica for $125 a head for five course meal and find plenty of options for the remaining $89 wine budget.

Or you could leggit down to Beaumaris to the bizarro world of the Lobster Cave and for $329 a three course meal complete with two glasses of boutique wine included.

Luckily Pam was there on a Groupon Deal and the $329 meal cost $69. Yes, you heard it. $329 of value for $69 and about 1,400+ people bought this deal.

How do they do it?

To visit the Lobster cave is to enter an alternative reality zone. I’m not talking about the illuminated fish tanks or the star-like down lights but the strange place it occupies in people’s minds. And the strange field of numbers its pricing belongs to with set menus, deals, vouchers and memberships that make it all but impossible to work out the price of anything on the menu.

The latest Groupon offer I looked at is a “$59 Three-Course Seafood Lunch with Wine for Two People at The Lobster Cave (Up to $180 Value)”. For that you’ll get to “Feast on mains like the crispy duck leg and scallops, whole seared lobster tail and sirloin mermaid 300g”. And there is the bonus of a $50 return voucher and membership to the Gold Medallion Club – worth $149 according to the paperwork Pam was given.

Pam’s offer, a birthday gift from a girlfriend, despite being a more expensive deal and featuring a picture of lobster tail, did not feature lobster to eat. Of course, she was given the Gold Medallion Club membership and a $50 discount voucher which I guess means the $329 of value equals about $130 of food and drink.

Pam’s first and only other visit to The Lobster Cave was, maybe, 15 years ago. She recalls little more than fishing nets on the walls and plastic lobsters. Or maybe that could have been somewhere else completely, a fantasy Lobster Cave.

It’s famous for the 9/20 review in The Age back in 2005 and in nine short years little has changed. Apart from its Urbanspoon rating which has rapidly risen somehow from under 50% to about 65% though still littered with complaints about the costs and the quality of produce.

Some reviews are obviously fake. Others fawning over it appear to be genuine. It’s all really odd.

This is where Pam takes over:

The reservation was for 5:45pm on a Sunday evening. My friend called the day before to confirm the reservation and was told that we should show up at 5:30 so as to avoid congestion at the door and in the kitchen. Picturing lines around the block we times our arrival for 5:27pm. There was only one group ahead of us.

We were greeted by three waiters in the doorway and as we entered the restaurant there were two more greeters. The décor had changed dramatically from my recollection. It is a large room split in two by a wall of fishtanks. The pathway between the two sections is lined with a giant tv screen displaying swimming fish.

We were shown to an immaculately laid table. Our chairs had padded seats and comfortable backs. We settled in for an evening of catching up and lots of food.

Our menu arrived. The relevant page had six choices of wine by the glass naming only the region, seven choices of entrée, eight choices of main and four choices of dessert. And large red text stating the menu was an indulgence package for 2 valued at $329.00. Wow! We couldn’t wait to try the food.

Lobster-cave-beaumaris18

We each ordered a glass of wine from the King Valley and decided to share our food; salt and pepper squid and smoked salmon as our entrees, scallops and steak as our mains (no lobster on offer in the indulgence package) and crème brûlée and chocolate tart for dessert.

We mentioned we were sharing and our waiter said they would tell the kitchen so that the food was served in the centre of the table.

The first course arrived and was presented to us by a white gloved waiter, who true to description placed the enormous dishes in the centre of the table while another waiter brought us each a plate. I started with the calamari which came with a brown clear sauce which tasted a bit like vinegar. The calamari itself was thick and cut into strips the same depth as the thickness and then crumbed and deep fried. It had a soft texture and tasted exactly like crumbed fried calamari dipped in a light vinegar.

There were five lacklustre slices of smoked salmon with a touch of garnish and a lemon to squeeze over it.

The scallops arrived in a creamy cheesy sauce. I went back and looked at the photo I’d taken of the menu. Mornay. Oops. They were accompanied by a pale yellow rice which I didn’t try. We gamely tucked into the scallops and were confounded by chunks of feta. Another look at the menu. Dodoni. Oh well.

Next onto the steak which was topped with something wriggly and brown – onions. There was also a piece of toast with something yellow on one end and a chunk of bone laid across the toast. Maybe the yellow stuff was marrow? We didn’t eat it.

My favourite part of the meal was at the other end of the plate. It had been described to us as mash but turned out to be a small pot of cheesy gnocchi. Unexpected but its chewiness was fun and it had a cheesy crust and I love cheesy crust. The steak was just okay.

Dessert. My friend enjoyed the tart and I thought the crème brûlée was very sugary. We were presented with complementary Irish cream and lollies and biscuits.

Our laughter at this point appeared to frighten off the family next to us who we’d been trying to make friends with.

My conclusion. The service was really excellent. My second glass of wine was an outrageous $15 and I think for that price they should tell you the brand you are drinking.

The food was really ordinary but was decent value at $70 for two people including a glass of wine. I cannot imagine how that could be priced at $329. But the Groupon offer is still available, maybe not the same one exactly, but then again maybe the one you buy might just include actual lobster. Or not.