For around 15 years, Tiamo was a lunchtime haunt of mine on the isolated occasions I've visited Melbourne, offering good pasta dishes and an appealing rustic ambience. So after five years' absence from Melbourne I arranged to have lunch there on a Saturday following a week's eisteddfod adjudicating at Warrnambool.
Slogging my way through judging a million or so performances of Fur Elise, I sometimes allowed my mind to anticipate a Tiamo lunch. Just reward for my labours!
Stepping off the Warrnambool-to-Melbourne train at 10am I walked uptown to Lygon Street, pausing to visit the princely premises of King & Godfree to critically select a merlot. And then, armed with a bottle of Inigo 2012, I entered the cosy, busy Tiamo and located a table over by the far wall.
Yep, same layout as before. Same wall of fading posters promoting events by Chick Corea, Lily Allen, Gabriel Iglesias and Tumbleweed. Same rustic furnishings such as bare tables, same vista of cooks out the back bending over their pots and saucepans. Somehow the familiarity with past scenery world like a tonic on me, even before cranking open the Inigo.
The service is quick and friendly. I ordered Spaghetti Bologna and a Garden Salad. Mmmmm! Great wine, must go back and tell them. Place buzzing with young families tucking into pasta and pizzas, waiters bustling everywhere.
My spaghetti and salad arrived together, with a plate of buttered Vienna slices. Looked great!
Appearances can deceive. Yep, bread fresh and good. Yep, spaghetti fresh and not overcooked. Garden salad in a deep bowl looked inviting. But wait a minute, is there anything beneath the heaps of lettuce? Search, search. Aha! Three quarter slices of tomato, several slivers of cucumber, one or two other similar items.
At $10, an audacious ripoff.
Missing from the spaghetti was a meat sauce that ideally saturates the dish. It was OK in flavour, but not it outstanding in texture. At $16.90, hardly value for money.
The best part of this experience was revisiting the place's homely ambience and becoming, at least for an hour or two, part of a happy family scene.
If you visit Tiamo, arm yourself with a really good red. A least then there'll be a truly exceptional edge to your meal.
Regrettably, I think I shall now say farewell to Tiamo. Thanks for the memories!
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