11th January 2016
322 Little Collins St
Melbourne, VIC 3000
Ah summer. Despite the scorching days and muggy nights, it’s all worth it for those breezy balmy evenings. I had originally planned to have Vietnamese for dinner, but when I walked by Chuckle Park Bar and Cafe, the weather was just too beautiful to pass up a visit to this lovely little outdoor spot.
To call Chuckle Park a Bar and Cafe is a bit misleading. Although that is essentially what it is on paper, in reality it is the tiniest and loveliest of beer gardens, squeezed into a tight crevice between two grey and dreary city blocks.
At 6 in the afternoon, most people are here for drinks and a smoke. If you’re like us however, you can order nosh from the van out back. The menu is a small but eclectic rendition of your standard cafe fare, with wraps and sandwiches dominating. The contents of the menu do diminish as the day wears on however, so you really do have to be the early bird to get your choice of worm.
I have long since given up on trying to find grilled corn as good as that at Mamasita, so I was pleasantly surprised with the Elotes ($7) at Chuckle Park. The corn was sweet and juicy, each plump kernel slathered generously with spicy aioli and queso, finished off with a smoky dash of chilli powder.
They were out of the Reuben and the Cubano, but as it turns out, ordering the Pulled Pork Roll ($12) wasn’t exactly a great hardship. Between the warm, crusty white roll were wads of juicy pulled pork, melting the cheese and soaking into the bread. The meat was rich and spicy, but there was an ample amount of slaw to balance it all out and give it some extra texture. Although extremely messy, it was worth the drippings on my legs.
If there’s one thing about Chuckle Park that has impressed me so far, it’s the portion sizes. The Meatball Soup ($12) is easily enough to be a meal for one, despite its skimpy price tag.
Like the sandwich, this was both hearty and tasty. The toasted bread roll soaked the tomato-based vegetable broth right up, and the meatballs were deliciously chunky with an unexpected hint of smoky spice. The overall flavour was light for such a substantial-looking dish, and although that might be a drawback in winter, it is just right in summer.
Chuckle Park makes its way through life riding mostly on its charm, but that’s not to say that there’s no substance behind the pretty face. The food is good quality and generously dished up, and there are also plenty of cocktail jugs to go around. It’s also around for a good 12 hours of the day as well as through the holiday season, so there are no excuses for not visiting.
Rating: 13/20 – ho ho ho!
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.