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Two Buoys – A Restaurant Review

Two Buoys Restaurant place is full of great intentions but unfortunately falls short.

Last Sunday was Australia Day. The great continent that gave us Crocodile Dundee, Kylie Minogue, and Waltzing Matilda commemorated the landing of the First Fleet in Sydney in 1788, which marked the British colonisation of the continent.

It’s a day of reflection on what it means to be Australian. I recently read that more than half of all Australians participate in celebrations, whether it is through concerts, parades, beach parties, or barbecues.

The Vegan Gigi Bowl from Two Buoys

I have always been fascinated by the place. Their recent troubles with major fires and all the devastation left me heartbroken. The nature, their sporting achievements, the people, their culture, and sometimes incomprehensible use of English, all intrigue me.

So, having a restaurant claiming it’s the place ‘where Melbourne meets Malta’ immediately prompted us to ‘have a squiz’, as the Aussies would say.

Two Buoys has an excellent location. With a beautiful terrace overlooking Spinola Bay, it is close enough to where all the action happens but at enough distance to be located in a relatively quiet spot. Its interior gives you the feeling it is summer all year round in here, with all the white rendering and wooden furniture.

Vegan Kibbeh from Two Buoys

Two Buoys opens its doors at 9 a.m., so it serves it all – breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner.

Greeted by a guy who was a mix of energy and relaxation, we soon got our menus and drinks. The menu has a variety of starters along with fish, meats, and pasta, so unless you feel like having pizza (which is not included), the menu caters to whatever mood you are in.

For starters, we went for the Kibbeh and The Gigi Bowl. We also ordered a Vegan Burger and Truffle Risotto for main courses, specifically that the latter would be a starter portion.

Simple, isn’t it? Not really, since soon enough, we saw the waitress approaching us with three plates, the two actual starters and, yes, the risotto. “I’m afraid we ordered this as a main course”. “Oh, ok. I’ll tell them to keep it heated”. “Heated, hmm, ok”. Was this a sign of things to come?

The ‘Kibbeh’ doesn’t sound very Australian I hear you say, and you’re right. It is a Middle Eastern dish, normally made of bulgur cracked wheat, minced onions, and lean ground beef. They’re like a Middle Eastern version of rice balls if you like, and just as tasty. In this case, they were made of soy mince and tabbouleh (a fresh herb and bulgur salad), served with salad and tahini sauce.

Vegan Truffle Risotto from Two Buoys

A tad spicy, and deep fried but not feeling oily at all, these croquettes were full of flavours. The only pity was that there were only two of them on the slate plate. Seriously, priced at €12, it meant we had paid €6 for each croquette. That’s a bit too much we thought. It obviously didn’t take us long to finish the portion.

Thank goodness we had ‘The Gigi Bowl’ (handsomely priced at €14) which was a decent portion of brown rice, beetroot hummus, vegetables, spinach, tofu, and avocado. The vegetables were well cooked and enjoyable whilst the tofu was firm, salty, and rubbery to the point it could be mistaken for halloumi.

They had barely taken away the empty plates when they came back with our main courses, the homemade vegan burger (priced at €14) and the ‘no we won’t bother preparing it again, we’ll just keep it heated for you’ Truffle risotto. The burger patty consisted of chickpea soy mince, broccoli, carrots, cauliflowers, sunflower seeds, and pine nuts. It seems the problem with these sorts of patties is the consistency.

We decided to share the burger cause obviously, both of us wanted to get a taste. Alarm bells started ringing as soon as we ran the knife through the ‘burger’ and turned into full alert as soon as we picked up our own halves, only to watch the patty collapse into a mushy mess back on the plate.

Whatever was left inside the bun felt more like a soy and veggie paste rather than a burger. To make matters worse, the fries tasted like the stuff you get at takeaways, and I don’t mean that as a compliment.

Homemade Vegan Burger from Two Buoys

The risotto was priced at €10.50 for a starter portion (a main course portion is priced at €12). The plate was decorated with flowers on the external part of the plate, which we assumed were edible. Till now we had been served edible flowers as part of the food, not the plate, so we didn’t take any chances and let them be.

The Italians say that a perfectly cooked risotto should look like ‘un onda’ a wave, that slowly rolls to shore. Very poetic yes. Basically, if you run a spatula through it, the risotto should slowly flow back in place. In this case, the spatula would have stuck. The asparagus was slightly undercooked and overall there was a very strong taste of truffle.

By now, it was fair to say the Two Buoys were having quite a Barry Crocker. We couldn’t be bothered to finish both main dishes and were wondering if we should give desserts a miss (yes, really), when the dessert list appeared, in a matter of seconds, almost as if by magic. Was someone in a hurry? Did they need our table? Were Chris Hemsworth and the rest of the Avengers on their way to dine here?

Vegan Carrot Cake from Two Buoys

Determined to give this one last change, we opted for the vegan carrot cake. What came up was two pieces of cake so thinly sliced the light could pass through them. As for texture, this was mushy, and nowhere near the light, airy and fluffy carrot cake I normally expect.

It resembled more the texture of the ‘pudina Maltija’ but tasted nowhere near as good. It barely tasted of carrot cake, whilst the soy vanilla ice cream did absolutely nothing for my taste buds

Overall, I refuse to accept this is the best Melbourne has to offer. Two Buoys is a restaurant full of good intentions and with a great concept, but unfortunately falls short.

The experience felt as if Malta, with a sense of anticipation, had met Melbourne, shook hands, consumed, and left with a sardonic “Yeah, nah”.


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