We found ourselves in South Yarra on Saturday and took the opportunity to revisit The Sweetwater Inn. We got there pretty early and found things pumping along - the outdoor area was full, the bar loaded and every spare table was reserved. Luckily, they could offer us a corner seat provided we could eat and move on in a couple of hours. We were in.
The menu has changed since our last visit - the pie floater is sadly departed, as is the ham steak. The BBQ prawns remain, as do the fish and chips and the rissole sandwich, alongside the two new dishes that we sampled. First up the smoked BBQ chicken, char-grilled and basted with a BBQ glaze ($18). The chicken was very similar to the mock-meat that the Cornish Arms base their parmas around, but the glaze kicked things up a notch and the tangy bbq sauce was smoky and delicious. Each main comes with two sides (choose from chips, coleslaw, potato salad and garden salad) - we both loved the cup o' chips, which were perfectly crispy.
Our second main was the pulled mushroom blend lamb roll, a shredded mock lamb coated in a sticky BBQ beetroot sauce with coleslaw on soft damper bun ($15 - there's a double version for $20 too).
This reminded me of the lamb that Madame K use in their massman curry - it's quite a meaty rendition, with the stringiness of the 'pulled' version adding slightly off-putting realism. It was pretty great, although it's a bit much to be paying $15 for a smallish mock-meat roll.
The Sweetwater Inn do the Americana/Australiana combo pretty well - there's loads of hot sauce varieties, lots of kitschy decorations (including stuffed birds and bull horns, which might put some people off) and a menu full of classic mock-meat based dishes. The staff are lovely and the range of booze impressive (their own Sweetwater Lager is a pretty decent beer option), but it's busy, noisy and a bit on the pricey side. We're Sweetwater enthusiasts, but with the Cornish Arms much more conveniently located we'll probably stick to our current schedule of a couple of visits a year.
You can read about our previous visits to the Sweetwater Inn here and here. Since then the vegan menu has had a good write-up Vegan Bullsh*t (twice!) and positive reviews from The Mob Review, Four Seasons of Food, Confessions of a Glutton and Fig and Walnut.
The Sweetwater Inn
1/60 Bray St, South Yarra
0402 532 578
Accessibility: There are three steps up as you enter. Things are reasonably well spread out, with seating a mix of high stools, low chairs and kegs. This time we bought drinks at the high bar, ordered food at our table, and returned to the bar to pay. We didn't visit the toilets.