Beef Ribs - $25.00
Russian Sampler Plate - $26.90
Admittedly, this mushroom parcel thing was fantastic
Our meal was off to an alright start. Chose the ribs cause that sounded delicious and also decided to try the Russian platter because we don't think we've seen anything like that anywhere before. We asked the waiter to explain the elements in the Russian platter because they weren't in English and we didn't know what they were. He couldn't tell us as well because he didn't know. Never mind. Ribs were a tad dry but we were quite forgiving as it was a huge chunk, which is always hard to keep moist.
Very unfortunately, the meal took a sour turn when the waiter made a rather rude remark to us. He asked how we found the food. We were honest to say that we found the food to be quite enjoyable (despite the tough and dry beef) with the slight exception of the Russian dumplings. The skins were WAAAY too thick -- just thick flour, little filling and barely any sauce on top. When we expressed politely that our preference was for it to be slightly thinner (since he asked for our honest opinions anyway), he replied by saying "Well, these aren't meant to be like Chinese dumplings anyway." Wow........... Just, WOW. I don't normally get offended by things but this really struck a chord. Mum and I looked at each other in disbelief. What? Just because we're of Chinese heritage our minds are so narrow that we can't appreciate any dumplings that isn't from our culture? Okay, even though I've never been to Eastern Europe myself but I did have the Russian dumplings made by a true Russian at Pelmini Kitchen which was literally a 3min walk down the road from there at the Prahran Market. Now, THOSE ones were incredible and I recommend people to try next time you're at the market. Everything about them was delicious, nothing like the one at Third Wave.Whatever. This waiter obviously didn't know what he was talking about because on a separate occasion we asked if they made their own house jam. He told us that they did but we later realised it was clearly store bought as we had to break open a seal and there was a label from the supplier. WHATEVER, GUY.
Without being too touched by the previous remark, I tried to maintain completely objective about my thoughts on Third Wave Cafe. I still didn't really like the place. Why? There were 8 pages and almost 70 food items in that menu... Seriously?? Too much!! There was so damn much to go through that we scanned the menu so quickly that we weren't really processing what they had. It's like they put everything they could think of under the sun in the menu. Everything gets lost.
Honestly, what this does is make it hard for people to identify what the specialties are. You know, dishes that as soon as you see it just jumps straight out of the page. And trust me, most truly successful restaurant always has that 1 or 2 dish that everyone just raves about... Specialties.
In fact, I couldn't even tell what type of restaurant they were. There was American... Australian... Middle Eastern... Russian... Mexican... Etc etc etc. I don't think any business can truly strive if they don't have any focus. It really did give me a sense that they weren't sure what they were doing. I mean, what is their identity? I don't believe that any establishment that fails to possess an identifiable value proposition to the customer segment will ever succeed. For example, imagine coming across a sign that says, "Hi, we make good Chinese, Mexican and African food. Come try.". Would you want to dine there? I sure as hell wouldn't.
To be honest, they really could have done much better with the Russian Platter if they handled themselves better. That dish definitely piques a lot of interest (which is a good start to begin with) and with the right approach, it can really create a strong identity because it's good to be famous or known for something. Branding. Too bad they failed to explain and execute the dish when we were there.
Like I said, I remain completely objective about my experience of Third Wave as most of it had nothing to do with that comment. Price is fair for its portion. But the food wasn't anything I would rave about. Yes to mushroom parcel only but no to dry and tough meat or chewy dumplings, thanks. Plus, they've lost my interest with their lack of focus in their vision for their cafe. Oh, and better treatment and language from a staff that actually knows what they're talking about would be much appreciated too.... Just sayin'
Disclaimer: Winston dined as a guest of Third Wave Cafe. All opinions are honest and based on own personal experience at the time.