Eat West has been looking forward to Graze Bar & Restaurant opening for a while. Altona Meadows really needed a great restaurant – somewhere that could become a local hub for friends and family, somewhere with great food and, being honest, somewhere to grab a cold-one on the way home from work! It’s also awesome to see new businesses opening and thriving in the Western Suburbs – and that’s what Eat West is all about.
We resisted the urge to pop in on opening day, to give the staff a day or two to settle into the new menu and routine, but on Wednesday evening we headed down to give Graze Bar & Restaurant a real run for it’s money!
Graze Bar & Restaurant is situated on Central Avenue in Altona Meadows, in the corner of Central Square Shopping Centre. It’s under the gym – but don’t worry, when you are cocooned in a booth in the alfresco area, tucking into a pizza or (huge!) sundae, you won’t feel guilty AT ALL.
Fully refurbished, the restaurant has a cool industrial vibe. Polished concrete floors, white walls and high ceilings are accented by beautiful feature lighting and a large, well stocked bar greets you on arrival. Whatever your tipple, it looks like Graze Bar & Restaurant has you covered. It’s the after-work hang-out you’ve been waiting for and when we visited there were a quite a few people enjoying a glass of wine and a couple of delicious looking tapas plates.
We were lucky enough to chat to head chef, Matt, about the menu and we LOVE that all the pizza bases and pastas are house-made, using traditional Italian recipes and techniques – fresh pasta absolutely does make all the difference! Graze is owned and managed by a local family and they are committed to supporting local businesses (love again!), sourcing the highest quality produce from both large, well known suppliers and small sole traders – which is great to see.
The menu is large and well priced, with a range of modern American, Australian and Italian dishes on the menu, however it is the tapas and Italian food where Graze really comes into it’s own. Yes, we could have gone with perennial Australian favourite, the trusty chicken parma or a huge rack of ribs, but why would you when you can order a table full of fun and uniques dishes you are unlikely to find elsewhere in the local area.
To start, we chose five tapas plates to share; the stuffed mushrooms, potato, pea and Gruyere croquettes, tempura prawns, eggplant chips, and 1/2 dozen tempura oysters. We were feeling like greedy oinks, but we soon got over it when we saw the food coming to the table – it looked amazing! Honestly, I probably didn’t expect it to be quite so good, particularly not in week one, but here it all was in it’s perfectly presented, colourful glory.
We enjoyed every plate served, particularly the mushrooms and croquettes, but the stand out for me was the Panko Crumbed Oysters – not only did they look beautiful, they are absolutely delicious. If you like the Hot n Roll Oysters at Cocochine in Point Cook (and if you haven’t tried those – erm, why not?!!), you will LOVE these – they are lighter, fresher, and the chilli and lime dressing adds a subtle kick and burst of flavour without overpowering the oysters. These would be a great first step into oyster territory for those that have never tried them – if our 4 year old is happy to wolf one down, you really have no excuse!
With house-made, fresh pasta it would have been remiss not to try the Prawn Spaghetti, and it didn’t disappoint. The prawns were thick, fleshy and cooked to that perfect fleeting moment that sits between raw and rubbery. The serve was generous and great value for $26.90. My only slight feedback here was that the confit garlic for me was slightly overdone – but I’m really splitting hairs here, I’d order it again without question.
Our resident burger-lover actually bucked his usual trend and chose the BBQ Pulled Pork rather than a regular burger. At $19 served with chips, it’s great value and whilst not in the stupid proportions of burgers you might find elsewhere, it was really tasty. The pork has been slow braised for 5 hours, and the bbq sauce is house-made – a labour of love and it shows.
Yep – we gave the pizza it’s own section. Why? Because it’s so damn good! House-made dough, stone baked and topped with premium ham, salami, mushrooms and buffalo mozzarella – it was pizza perfection in all it’s light, crips and absolutely grease-free glory. I like to eat healthy and if I can eat a pizza and feel like it was actually pretty good for me, then I’m SOLD. I won’t lie, a friend ate at Graze the night after we visited, and I made her bring me a pizza home!
Pizza’s start at a very reasonable $13, with the most expensive being the Gamberetti, at $19. Graze Bar & Restaurant will be offering a delivery service in the very near future and will be adding gluten free options once the kitchen is fully established.
We had a great evening at Graze Bar & Restaurant. There was a little lag between out entrees and mains but, for the first week of operation, it wasn’t unexpected and we were kept well hydrated with a selection of cocktails, milkshakes and juices – hot tip: try the Whiskey Sour!! It was quite busy for a second night, the alfresco area was full when we left and there were a couple of birthday parties inside. There were also a few people popping in for after work drinks, a quick bite of tapas and some take away pizza – so it would seem that demand for this type of restaurant and style of menu is certainly there.
We frequently eat out in the ‘outer west’ and I’d say there is nothing really like Graze Bar & Restaurant in the area. We hope residents of Altona Meadows get behind this family business and give it the support it deserves to establish and be successful. The area desperately needed a ‘local’ , and if the early reviews on Facebook are anything to go by, the locals are so far suitably impressed.
Graze Bar & Restaurant
Open 7 days, from 8.30am till late