A large, open space brimming with pot plants (giving off the vibe of a nursery with a bit of rainforest), Green Park Carlton certainly has the ambience bang on – funky hip hop tunes waft quietly through the air and make the place not as daggy as it could be with the abundance of families and the playground.
With a plethora of seating both inside and out, Green Park Carlton has an adjoining wine bar for those who want to escape the kiddie talk.
The interior decor is thoughtfully put together, with a piano in corner and an abundance of alcohol bottles on display in a glass cabinet. There’s even a book swap service, creating a community feel.
In terms of history, the establishment has always been around but reopened as Green Park Carlton in November 2014. Dinner is on early here – starting from 3:30pm.
I’m told lunch isn’t as good, but it’s 12pm and I’m not about to wait three hours in fear of my appetite going feral and eating anyone who comes near.
I order a custom made brekkie consisting of eggs cooked sunny side up with avocado and a hash brown for the kids.
The latter steals the show with its silky, starchy potato filling which contrasts with a loudly crunchy exterior. A smattering of salt leaves the nephews and I scrambling to steal the last bites.
The seafood spaghetti dish comprises a modest serving which lies drenched in a buttery emulsion that is light yet comforting.
My Asian-attuned palate fails to register much chilli however small pops of sweetness from pipis add another element to the dish. There are a generous amount of pipis in the dish, however eight of them are closed and therefore inedible.
The dish, though well-presented and elegant-looking, is far too small for a cafe main course and there is definitely not enough spaghetti to satiate the diner.
Altogether the dish isn’t bad – just somewhat timid in flavour. Some garlic and a squeeze of lemon for acidity would have made this dish phenomenal and given it the bright burst of confidence it needed.
The bean and smoked bacon soup sounds interesting in print, so I go ahead and take the plunge.
What’s put in front of me is initially alarming at first sight; a bright green Shrek colour with an overwhelmingly one-dimensional pea flavour that thankfully the palate grows used to after the first sip.
The ‘bacon’ turns out to be clumsy, unseasoned chunks of pork rather than the crispy, cured variant we all love.
This proves to be a real disappointment as the salt from the bacon would have provided some depth of flavour to the dish, which eventually settles into a very buttery soup base, thanks to an overload of lima beans.
I have low expectations by the time we get to the vegetarian option, which to my utter, utter surprise, smashes it out of the park (the GREEN Park? Oh no I didn’t!) with flavour.
The caramelised red onion and goats cheese tart takes the honeyed sweetness of the onion and sets it squarely against the sourness of the goat’s cheese – which admittedly there could be more of, but still has the desired effect.
Bringing up the rear, salted caramel walnuts provide texture, while the parsnip puree’s delicate, natural sweetness closes the show.
I figure you can’t go wrong with a cheeseburger, so play it safe for the ending.
Distinctly lukewarm, Green Park’s interpretation of a cheeseburger comes off as tasting not unlike a Big Mac rather than a freshly made, gourmet burger – right down to the pickle and cheese used.
The bun is unapologetically tremendous, which would scare away most except for the truly Carb Dedicated.
The saving grace in this dish are the chips – the best kind, as they hold the crunchiness of wedges.
Green Park has friendly, flexible service – our party of six (including two children under five) is quickly catered for without fuss and there’s banter between the waiters as they pass each other – a good sign.
Open seven days, Green Park tends to attract a lot of families with small children as there’s a playground located next to it, but you also catch a lot of single dog walkers meeting their trendy dog walking buddies.
This spaciously expansive venue has lots of potential but needs to make significant changes to the menu increase the personality and flavour of dishes.
Service 8, Food 6
Green Park Carlton is located at 815 Nicholson Street, Carlton North. Check them out here.