With a serious toned Brian Cox lecture to attend to in Melbourne, there was an absolute need to furnish the brain with a touch of nourishment prior. Not to mention, it had been a long Friday at work too. After a pub lunch of fish and chips, there was a void to fill. A void of the food-kind, not measured in pints but one that required a decent burger. And it was pure coincidence that Merrywell was located just across the street from the Melbourne Convention Centre.
I had heard this place mentioned in the same breath as Andrew’s, Huxta and Beatbox. I think it was justifiably appropriate to be skeptical of those drawn-out arguments, especially considering its location. I had walked by this Clarendon St corner of Crown complex one night when it hit me that Lucky Chan was no longer on the premises. In its place, The Merrywell is an American theme joint boasting two levels of space which I have yet to see filled-out. What had caught my eye was the attractive $15 burger + pint during happy hour (4-6pm). Not bad at all! The service is fast-food establishment-styled and you place your orders at the counter near the entrance. I find it odd that you don’t have your orders taken at your table, especially when the place is barely a fifth full. The ground level offers ample seating space, with high chairs against heavy wooded tables on either side of the floor. Music choice is quite average and could certainly be improved on.
The menu is well-ranging with several burger and sandwich options, most ranging $12 – $15. The highlight is “The Merrywell” for a challenging $20. The only obvious serve difference is the inclusion of fries, which for ~$6 more doesn’t seem all that worth it. The fries were nicely fried, well salted and with just that extra film of oil clinging to your mouth. The lobster sandwich is $22, but I have heard only average opinions of this one. They do have a 35-day wet aged Caveman steak weighing in at 1.2kg and costing $99. I think at that price, my bet would be on Rockpool to grill a better slab of cow.
Drinks-wise, the beer list is terribly boring. There are cocktails on the menu, but that just seems so much against the theme of the establishment. So the two sangria options are the call of the cards. The Adaman Sea Sangria (1 lt $30 or 2 lt $45) is made from non-descript white wine, granny smith and gala apple slices, grapes (didn’t see any), kaffir lime leaves and Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur. Served in a large glass jar (think old school Skippy peanut butter jars or Uncle Duke’s moonshine vessels), the 1 litre serve is sufficient to fill 4 small glasses. While sufficiently tasty, it is vastly over-priced. I was prematurely excited by a ‘Wake Up’ stout that involved the wonderful 4 pines stout. Alas, this order was forgotten till well after the whole table was done with our meals. Also, it was visually very plain with too much cream and too thick a head.
A huge dislike I have is that their buffulo wings aren’t wings, they’re “fingers” (chicken tenders) which makes this a sheer pee-over of the concept of spicy Buffulo wing with blue cheese sauce! I regard this as a besmirchment of this East Coast delicacy!
Overall, I find The Merrywell to be a showy joint without quality to offer. A menu fails to offer value for money, and is good perhaps only relative to the other options in the vicinity. It is out of the way for most of the office crowd to enjoy the appealing $15 happy hour offer. Something needs to change.