Folks, I visited Altona recently to do a little filming for an episode of ‘Melbourne Revealed’, joined by my good friend in Adrian Valenta. I went for a somewhat disappointing snorkel out by the Altona Pier, and then walked around town for a little until we settled on a place for lunch. We saw a number of little places, but eventually settled upon a place called ‘Small Plates’, which in fact was pretty much the first place we passed.
We looked at a number of places up the strip there on Pier Street which at least appeared to be the main sort of place for shopping and importantly, eating. I’d never been to Altona before, a western suburb seaside spot with a gorgeous beach and a nice vibe. Easy enough to get to from central Melbourne, around 35 minutes by train and the station was just up Pier st so for access, not too bad.
It was a Wednesday and school was happening, so it wasn’t a very busy day despite the sunshine and superb weather of mid-20s. As usual too I was eating my lunch a bit late. Nevertheless. We strode into this new looking place and were greeted by the owner who was very friendly and chatty.
In fact, we learnt that this place, ‘Small Plates’, had only been open for two weeks. They own two restaurants of the same name (now) and the other is in Eltham. Whilst we were there they were still putting some finishing touches to the store, putting pictures up – large poster sized – on the walls at the front. But it didn’t disturb us. A little warm we decided to sit inside.
They operated a place on the same site up to two years ago when the building had to be demolished, and so they had just opened up again under the new name of ‘Small Plates’. It’s really great to be able to eat at an ‘off time’ during the day like we did because you get the chance to chat with the owner and learn a bit about the business. Plus you feel special! It may have helped that I had a camera in one hand of course!
I often wonder how I’m being perceived when I do walk in somewhere with camera in hand. Half the time I expect to be told to put it away, but aside for one time in the Old Melbourne Gaol where I was asked not to film the guide, that hasn’t actually happened. Do people adjust behaviours in the other way then and become more friendly to make a good impression? It’s possible I think, depending on the individual.
Inside it was a little dark, which I liked, and they used those light bulbs inspired by the first light bulbs (but these days are energy efficient) over the counter which I think are really stylish. The walls were a cream colour with poster prints wallpapered (I say that because I can’t think of the right word) stylishly onto them. The ceiling was painted black and most of the lighting was at angles. The counter and serving area was light brown sort of pine-wood design. It worked pretty well together.
Anyways, we sat down to order. The place was nicely done I think, long and thin, a selection of cakes available for those after a slice and coffee, the place was licensed too and had a small but decent drinks list. There were a bit of a range of meals including barramundi and chicken parmigiana on what was a mostly Greek menu. All in all the place was not a local hamburger joint, but not a fine dining sort of place either which I think is great as it caters to a bigger cross section of customers and you can feel comfortable either way. The prices were around the price of what you would expect in a pub too, so not too expensive with mains around $25AUD, or wraps with chips a little less. Definitely not going to break the bank.
Adrian went with the lamb yeeros (gyros) and an Iced Coffee, and I went with the Mix Lamb and Chicken. The Iced Coffee landed first and Adrian was pretty happy with that.
Our mains were pretty good, the meat on mine wasn’t the shaved meat I was expecting but it was proper grilled. The meat was tasty on my end and also with the yeeros. One little gripe that we had was that they put chips in the yeeros, because neither of us are a fan. Why would you serve chips with chips? It seems a little counterintuitive to me and they only come out soggy. But that’s a personal preference and I found travelling in Burlgaria/Turkey it was quite common in fact to have it served this way.
Afterwards, I had to try a bit of cake. They had a chocolate mud cake, or so they called it, and I had that. I was nice but I feel like technically it should be called a ‘Mars Bar Cake’ as it had a layer of caramel in there. I was pretty sweet and I only had half of it, if not a little less. But I was pretty full to be honest and enjoyed the meal. The service was great and all in all, I think Small Plates looks like a place that will become a favourite for the locals.
Anyways, if you do venture down to Altona Beach, Small Plates is a great option around a minute’s walk or less from the start of the Altona Pier! Thanks for reading today, take care, and May the Journey Never End!