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Cuisine Undercover - Groove Train - 3 stars

29 Nov 2011

Banking on a no-frills, solid performance

There’s no missing Docklands’ ANZ headquarters, that’s for sure.

There’s no missing the ANZ employees either, spilling into Collins St during morning and afternoon peaks, snaking their way between Southern Cross and their purpose-built building on the water’s edge – those distinctive lanyards swinging around their necks.

And if you happen to know any of them – there’s no missing their complaints – most still feeling as though they’ve been shipped to the middle of nowhere in a deliberate ploy by the banking giant to improve productivity by denying them access to the CBD. I mean – come ON!

You’ve had one of Melbourne’s signature streets extended to your doorstep, you’ve had your own tram line extended to the building’s front door – and you’ve got your very own slice of prime Melbourne riverfront, on which a growing number of eateries are beginning to appear.
To serve you. Get OVER IT PEOPLE!

It might surprise even Docklands’ locals to know just how much has sprung up around Gotham City’s base (you don’t have to wear a lanyard to get into the retail area), and if you trek around the back to the river, it really does feel as though you’ve stumbled across a little Melbourne secret. It’s here you’ll find the bustling Groove Train – a chain many will be familiar with, having established itself as a reliable, cheapish and accessible venue at Southbank over many years.

Serving a bit of everything including staples such as chicken parma and fish  ‘n’ chips, it’s mainly known for its pizzas and pasta. On the day we visited, I simply had to try the chicken parma pizza special ($18.90) – that’s right people, parma on a pizza. Why on earth hasn’t this been done before?

Featuring thin-ish slices of crumbed chicken and a smattering of dried herbs tossed across a basic margherita base (with a few slices of capsicum thrown in), it was satisfying, but could have been done better. Where was the ham for example? The chicken itself was a touch dry, perhaps having been cooked twice – but the Napoli sauce was excellent – sweet and juicy on a thin, fresh base with just the right amount of fluff. Overall – a touch bland, but helped considerably by the addition of a generous smattering of dried chilli flakes.

My friend had the chicken and cous cous salad (also $18.90). A generous serving of fat tenderloins sat on a mescalin salad with the cous cous, tzatziki and flaked almonds buried beneath.

Her only complaint was it took her awhile to uncover the tzatziki, which was the key kick in the flavour department – it seemed an odd choice not to put it on top.

I tensed, as I tend to do, when taking my first sip of a white wine by the glass in a restaurant like this – waiting for the taint that comes with a cheapish drop left in an unfinished bottle for too long.

But we were both pleasantly surprised, with both the Margaret River chardonnay and sauvignon blanc proving to be fresh and well balanced (and worth their 8-ish bucks a glass).

Size matters here and you won’t leave hungry. It’s nothing special, but it’s not trying to be.

It’s big, easy, with solid food and a good selection of drinks to choose from. Probably a perfect venue for a team Christmas lunch – if you’re prepared to travel “all” that way.

Location: Address is 833 Collins Street – just head for ANZ then walk around its base to the water.

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