Al Porto Vecchio


Al Porto Vecchio on Urbanspoon

Given the HOT HOT HOT weather Melbourne has been experiencing I headed to my local beach Williamstown!! And then something to eat. I headed straight to Nelsons Restaurant because I had been craving a big bowl of mussels. I had these Thai green curry type mussels at Nelsons Restaurant last year and was keen for some more. When we arrived although there was a table of 4 sitting outside enjoying food, we were told that the kitchen will re-open at 6pm. That meant we would have to wait an hour at least to order, and then maybe 1.5 hours to eat!! I couldn’t do this!! Stomach pains were hitting!! So we walked down Nelsons Place mussel shopping. We stopped by the Yacht Club Hotel where I had dined before and enjoyed mussels, but I decided to keep walking and possibly try somewhere new.

We turned the corner to past Cole St and spotted Banque which was open and serving, but it seemed the only way to get mussels was to order a big seafood platter type dish for 2. Andrew wasn’t keen on seafood (he doesn’t eat fish at all), so we kept walking. And then… ta da, we stumbled upon Al Porto Vecchio which was serving mussels! Yay! We sat down outside and promptly ordered drinks, a beer and a coke. The drinks took quite a while to reach us, I would say 20 mins. (I wasn’t checking exactly so it was probably much shorter, just time feels longer when  you’re waiting). Which I was surprised about because the restaurant looked fully staffed and not busy (it was 5.15pm after all).

Anyway – my much anticipated mussels!! The waiter actually brought it out with a bowl covering it, which was rather unusual. The plate was boiling hot! As if they were put in the oven or something.

Poached Bay Mussels in white wine, garlic, herbs, sweet chilli & napoli sauce

Andrew’s meal (beef cannelloni) was also covered with a plate that they waiter took off after our meals were presented on the table.

Beef cannelloni

As I devoured the first mussel, I had to spit it out into a napkin (sorry for the graphic). It was awful mushy, dry and unfresh. I thought, oh perhaps it was one bad mussel and continued eating. After maybe 6 more of the same experience, I began to realise it wasn’t just a one off bad mussel. In addition to the bad mussels, the sauce was horrible too. It was sooooo sweet. It was as if the mussels were basically marinated in sweet chilli sauce from the bottle. There was no broth, napoli taste, garlic or herb taste at all. Just dominated with diluted sweet chilli sauce. I feel sooo terrible writing this nasty review, but it was definitely the worst  mussels I have ever eaten in my life.

Andrew managed to finish his meal but said he wasn’t impressed.

I later checked the reviews about this place and on person wrote ‘Avoid this like the plague. Appalling’. I wish I read that comment before sitting down here. (Although I don’t usually let bad reviews by other diners deter me). Later that night I spoke to a fellow westie who lives in Newport who also told me she had a bad experience at this place when she ordered a pasta. However I did speak to colleague who had a positive experience at Al Porto Vecchio but that was a while back, perhaps 4 years ago.

I did a walk to the bathroom down the back and had a sticky beak into the kitchen were I saw a couple of young boys in the kitchen. Not to be age prejudice, but I thought… perhaps they weren’t very experienced or haven’t been trained up properly.

I’m going to avoid this place from now on but hopefully standards change as its at a beautiful location and a shame that it serves such appalling food.

Food: 1/10

Service: 5/10

Ambience: 8/10