AU ABROAD

Royal Croquet Club returns to Melbourne for December

The warmer weather has seen Melbournians taking to Birrarung Marr for a little reprieve, where the fancy Royal Croquet Club (RCC) has returned this year with its smooth green lawns beneath beautiful blue skies. While it may already be a week in, there’s still time to style yourself croquet chic and get in quick to try some of the best culinary experiences that the event has to offer.

On the face of it, the RCC has grown since its inception, drawing a crowd of more than 500,000 people throughout the last three events across Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane. Now in its third year however, the numbers seem to be waning – perhaps due in part to the fact that we’re drawing nearer to Christmas, or the distinctly less-adventurous food offerings than those seen at January’s event where there was Messina in a can, Mr Claws lobster rolls, Meatmother’s brisket goodness, Miss Chu’s Asian delicacies, St Ali coffee and DOC’s spin on classic Italian.

This month’s RCC is a somewhat modest juncture of 6 stalls, cooking up a variety of cuisine with something for everyone. We’ve filtered through them, finding the top dishes that you just can’t miss.

For the perfect combination of sweet and savoury, get in line for Bluebonnet BBQ’s cornbread waffle [$13], featuring a generous helping of smoked pork belly served atop creamed corn, sour cream, porcini popcorn and coriander. This is a standout at the event and will have you licking your fingers and longing for more.

If deep fried cheese is your type of thing, then don’t even think about walking past Gazi’s saganaki croquetta [$9]. The Greek empire run by celebrity chef and restaurateur, George Calombaris, has created this incredibly indulgent delight oozing with savoury goodness and served with a sweet, peppered fig dipping sauce.

For those on a health-kick, Japanese favourite Tokyo Tina is tantalising tastebuds with their kingfish sashimi and wasabi mayo rice paper rolls [$8]. Make sure to grab some sweet soy dipping sauce, lest you’ll be left high and dry.

Meanwhile, RuYi brings contemporary Chinese to a whole new level, serving up classic street food in the form of crispy chicken with honey wasabi sauce [$12]. Get ready for the wasabi to go straight to your nose.

Mamasita continues to thrive amidst Melbourne’s love-affair with punchy Mexican flavours, presenting their signature corn cob [$8] – a mouth-watering combination of grated cheese with smoked paprika, cumin seeds, toasted pepitas and chipotle mayonnaise.

For dessert, Pidapipo is serving up gelato in several flavours, including passionfruit, nutella swirl, salted caramel, chocolate and hazelnut. If one serving isn’t enough, try the gelato sandwich [$7] – a chocolate chip cookie with peanut butter served with indulgently decadent chocolate fudge gelato.

In addition to food, there are beats by Running Touch & Lucille Croft, PACES & Poolclvb, Nina Las Vegas, KLP, Touch Sensitive, GRMM and ALPINE. It’s easy to listen to but seems to fade into the background. Although touted as an ‘all-ages playground of music, performing arts, food, unique bars and croquet’, the target demographic of RCC appears to be trendy 30-somethings with an exiguous extent of culture, as reflected by the music and style. If you’re into people spotting while feasting, then this is an occasion to see and be seen whilst bringing out your inner foodie. With more croquet pitches to boot, you might even be able to have a turn at the age-old game this summer.

The Royal Croquet Club runs in Melbourne from Thurs 10 Dec until Sun 20 Dec 2015 at Birrarung Marr. For more information, visit http://www.royalcroquetclub.com.au

Photos by Serena Ho for the AU Review