I was in Wangaratta over the weekend for a friend’s wedding. It’s not a place I’d usually go. Despite being in the middle of nowhere, there’s a lot of traffic, and parking is metered almost everywhere. It’s white trash central, too — Shepparton has a Turkish community and Kyabram has the Iraqis, but everyone in Wangaratta seems to be some kind of Anglo, and a fair proportion of them are overweight, too. I felt we stuck out like a sore thumb — Asian family, shirt bearing the logo of a heavyweight institutional broker (that none of the locals would recognise), trying to buy stuff with a black AmEx. Speaking of which, a girl at a café tried to tell me it’s a scorecard and wouldn’t work. We’re near the fat, lazy, unstylish end of the scale in Elizabeth bay, but in Wangaratta, we feel relatively slim, fit and classy. It’s just a world apart.

We stayed at the Wangaratta Gateway Hotel, as it seemed to be the nicest place in town. It has undercover parking, free Internet, a swimming pool, a cocktail bar and a restaurant. The Internet service was down for the weekend, but they delivered on all the other promises. The cocktail bar was pretty good. I mean, it’s not exactly the Pacifica at Bondi, but they do a good cosmopolitan, and it’s a nice atmosphere. They were happy for Yoshi to be there as long as he was only drinking fruit juice, which was a plus. In the end we didn’t get to try the restaurant — we weren’t up in time for breakfast, and we were otherwise occupied at dinner times. We didn’t swim in the pool, either — just saw the frolicking bikini whales as we walked past.

When we arrived in town on the Friday afternoon, we took a walk up the main street looking for something to eat. When in an strange place, a familiar name can be comforting, so we decided to have our late lunch at La Porchetta in the main street. Now people go to McDonalds for consistently — it isn’t consistently good, but it’s very much consistent. This isn’t the case with La Porchetta, as each pizza chef delivers their own interpretation of the menu. The fettuccine alla matriciana was OK, with the kick of about four kinds of chilli in a tasty tomato-based sauce, but the pizzas were disappointing: very oily, not much topping and dry, bready bases. The water smelled and tasted like it was straight out of the tap, and the air felt dead and heavy. Between the water and the air, I got a sore throat that I didn’t get over for the rest of the weekend.

We had dinner with friends at the Sydney Hotel on Templeton Street. Now this place was definitely a step up. Parmigiana seems to be their speciality, with several choices of meat and size available. No-one who had a parmigiana was unsatisfied. They did a good steak, although it could have done with a little more sauce, and the steamed vegetables on the side were a bit overcooked. The Sydney Burger may be in the light meals section, but it’s still a big plate of food. Desserts were nice enough, too. I’d definitely recommend trying this place if you’re staying in Wangaratta for whatever reason.

Holloywod’s Sidewalk Café is the first eatery you see on the left as you hit the main drag (coming from the Melbourne end). We came here for a late breakfast the next day. This is where we should’ve stopped instead of walking up to La Porchetta. They were taking down the boards with the breakfast menu and putting up the lunch menu just as we arrived, but the chef was nice enough to give us some grace time for ordering breakfast. We had bacon and eggs, buttermilk pancakes, and eggs benedict. It was all done very well — light, fluffy pancakes, nice crusty toast, bacon crispy but not too hard, and nice coffee. The water here tasted better, too. It would’ve been perfect if there’d been some vegetables involved (maybe some mushrooms with the bacon and eggs, or spinach with the eggs benedict), and if they’d given us real maple syrup with the pancakes. But we really couldn’t complain about this place — it was a tasty, satisfying breakfast.

We had lunch at Wangaratta Kebabs (further up the main street on the right). Wangaratta must be in the crossover region between Sydney and Melbourne kebab culture, as they offer chicken, beef and lamb (in Melbourne you often don’t get beef, and in Sydney you often don’t get lamb). We got a plate piled high with meat and salad, but it wasn’t anything special. The salad tasted like it had been sitting out a bit too long, and the meat was a bit dry. It was still a lot more pleasant than La Porchetta had been.

The real reason we were there was for the wedding and reception, and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves there. It was a fun time with good friends. The rest of our experiences in the town were hit and miss, but I guess it’s not a bad town on the whole.

This entry was posted on Sunday, 13 February, 2011 at 4:30 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One response to “Wangaratta”

Vasthemundineofdouchebags says:

I realise it’s been some time since this blog post, but I only stumbled across it today. You, my dear friend, write poorly, your opinions are unimportant, and you proudly advertise your douchbaggery, succinctly proving your complete lack of class.

But since my reading this post is probably the only hit your page has had in the last 3 years, this would be a good day for you.

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