It’s the place to be dur­ing the warmer months, but will this lat­est beach­side restau­rant keep up once the mer­cury starts to drop?

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Contents -

Beach­side din­ing at Pon­toon.

ST KILDA’S Stoke­house has re­turned in time for sum­mer larks with a much talked about three-pronged ap­proach to food and fun.

There’s fore­shore fine din­ing up top and a fish and chip kiosk to the side, but the big­gest foot­print is ded­i­cated to Pon­toon, the no-book­ings “sand-level” bar and eatery for 400 or so pun­ters.

An 18m-long bar dom­i­nates the in­te­rior, all con­crete and brick off­set by warm­ing wood and leather, with lots of out­door seat­ing to watch the sun sink into the bay. Opened late last year, this prime pozzie has quickly re­sumed its man­tle as south side’s hippest beach hang­out after the 2014 fire.

But will the crowds still flock once sum­mer rolls up its beach towel?

Ser­vice is a loose term here. It’s DIY cen­tral, a bit rich given some of the pric­ing. You or­der at the bar and pay up­front, fetch cut­lery, plates, servi­ettes and wa­ter, and more than likely flag down a waiter to clear your ta­ble.

The Med-lean­ing food can be hit and miss. Four va­ri­eties of pizza are laden with qual­ity top­pings but on a so-so base, while grilled prawns have a too-heavy hand of chilli. The lamb shoul­der is yield­ing – spike it with two forks and it falls apart – but ar­rives barely warm.

On the up­side, crispy-edged slices of hanger steak are per­fectly slathered in a herby hit of chimichurri. The raw king­fish is light and lovely, em­bold­ened with fried capers and a jalapeno vinai­grette, while a sim­i­larly zingy smoked chicken salad with toasted chick­peas had me in the kitchen the next night try­ing to recre­ate it.

You won’t go thirsty with wa­ter­melon mar­ti­nis, 18 taps for beer, a spir­its list as deep as your young waiter’s tan, and that slurp of the sum­mer, frosé, on tap.

Pon­toon has the sea­side vibes, but risks be­ing a fair­weather friend if ba­sic ser­vice re­mains miss­ing at sea.

From top: the lamb shoul­der, din­ing is a stone’s throw from the wa­ter, and the grilled egg­plant and an­chovy pizza.

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