The majority of the time my reviews on the blog are of places and events that I attend because I’ve done some research beforehand. Thus, it’s always surprising (and a little disappointing) when that research turns up a NOT experience.

Such was the case with Shire Cafe. I’d read positive reviews of the place in two food blogs I follow regularly – I’m so hungreee and “it pleases us” and so when I was looking for a lunch stop in my neighbourhood one afternoon I trotted over to the quieter backstreets of Fitzroy in search of of it.

The venue is pleasant enough – a little nook under an apartment block with wooden floorboards, floor to ceiling windows and a student-y clientele taking advantage of the free wifi. I popped myself onto a light filled corner table and studied the menu.

My heart sank. When a small cafe (the prep area looked like a tiny galley kitchen) offers three A4 pages of food covering a United Nations of culinary options, my suspicions are raised. Nevertheless, I perservered with the ten or more choices in the ‘light, bright meals’ section and narrowed it down to the Vietnamese chicken salad. How? There were three Vietnamese options on that part of the menu and the staff appeared to be Asian, so I thought perhaps there was some knowledge of Vietnamese food lurking in amongst the pizza-burger-fries.

Sadly, the salad was not up to scratch, even if I wasn’t looking for a dish out of Hanoi or Saigon. Big slices of tasteless chicken breast heaped onto some rough, uneven slithers of carrot. Baby spinach leaves and not a shred of cabbage to be seen. The whole thing drowning in an overly sweet sauce reminiscent of Fanta, yet with an occasionally throat-chocking kernel of black peppercorn. Finally, prawn crackers out of a packet? No thanks. 

Normally when I dine alone I like to order dessert to provide a more complete review, but frankly I wasn’t going to take the risk this time.

Finally, the service was a bit forgetful. I had to ask for water, waited a while without catching anyone’s attention before going up to the front to order and had to leave the exact change ($13.50) on the counter in front of the distracted waiter on my way out as there was no indication that the bill would be forthcoming. They were certainly not so busy as to justify the lack of attention.

There are plenty of other excellent, reliable cafes in Fitzroy, so after my experience at the Shire Cafe it is very unlikely that I’ll be making a return visit.

  • Shire Cafe, 69 Victoria St, Fitzroy +61 3 9417 3788