76 Bourke Street, Melbourne
I've heard mixed reactions to Nudel Bar. I've walked past it several times and thought "hm, I'll give that a go one day" and never did. Until now.
I found a review of the place in The Age from several years ago, and that cemented the idea that I really should give the place a go. Perhaps the circumstances didn't help my over-all impression... I arrived there prior to the official lunchtime rush, I requested take-away, I was pleasant...
I'd no sooner stepped through the front door when a waitress lassoed me. After I stated that I wanted something to take away a menu was thrust into my hand, and I was imperially ordered to sit and "take my time" before said lady rushed off to the kitchens. I'd barely skimmed over the menu for the first time when she whirled back asking if I'd decided. The harried look on her face led me to think that, instead of being almost completely empty (there was one customer slurping away in the corner), the place was actually packed to the rafters, and my inability to make a decision was keeping hundreds of other customers waiting. I politely asked for a few more minutes. I'm sure I caught an eye-roll as she whisked away again, but by this stage I could have been becoming paranoid.
I finally settled for the potato curry. The menu was whipped out of my hand, the finger pointed to another stool upon which I could place myself, and she was off again. Another waitress saw me sitting there meekly and offered me a smile, which was nice. I was asked if I wanted cutlery with the food, which I declined, but I didn't realise that serviettes were considered part of "cutlery" as, when I received my food and made it back to my desk to eat it, I discovered that these were sadly lacking. So, my experience of the service isn't great -- sure, it was quick, but to the point of being brusque, even rude. I have to admit, I prefer my service with a smile, even a little bit of cheek. Maybe if I'd eaten in the service would have been different... who knows? Maybe I'll go again and check that out. Maybe not.
But on to the food. I wasn't expecing all that much, however when I prised the lid off my bowl I was enchanted by the aroma that wafted up to me. Heavenly. Large chunks of potato, a smattering of green peas, some spring onion, and a terrifically fragrant thick curry sat high on top of vermicelli noodes with a few sprout-y things (you know, like sprouts but thicker) thrown in. Even so, I didn't have massively high hopes for the curry: I tend to like a bit of spice in my curries, and have found that many places prefer to keep the heat down. So imagine my pleasure when the curry actually had some bite! Figuring out how to eat the whole thing out of that bowl was interesting, I would have been better served to tip it all out onto a plate... but meh, it was half the fun.
So... service was INCREDIBLY disappointing, but the food wasn't too bad. I *might* go back, try it again one day, but I've gotten used to incredibly good food for much less than $10, whereas this was adequate food for about $14. I know which I prefer!