On a completely off note, doesn’t that sound like a dramatic blog post title? Like the name of a fantasy novel, only more like a parody of it…
Anyway, I recently visited Ballarat and explored all there is to do outside of Sovereign Hill. A part of that included wandering the historic town and it led me to the cafe, The Lane.
It’s part of the George Hotel and what drew me in was its spacious layout, its wall of green foliage and its mural at the back.
I sat right in this corner to admire the artwork whilst I waited for my iced coffee. It was quite expensive at $8.50 and I wondered whether it was a result of the tourism of the town or whether the hotel itself was costly.
I like how it was presented in an old fashioned mug. It’s also nice that they give you a proper straw in addition to the striped one for presentation, as it tends to taste a bit like soggy paper.
There wasn’t anything special about it for $8.50 but I enjoyed the serene feeling that emanates from the lovely artwork. You can also get free wi-fi, which is always a plus!
The Lane is located at 27 Lydiard St North, Ballarat. They are open 7am until late on weekdays and 8am until late on weekends.
Next up was a highly rated and recommended pizza place, The Forge Pizzeria. It appears they have two locations, thus I’ll clarify that I visited the branch on Armstrong St.
It wasn’t extremely busy but seemed steady enough. The seating area is vast and lengthy, so you don’t feel too close to anyone.
Once again the rustic and historic aspects of Ballarat shone through, this time with this music box-like tin for our utensils.
With a fireplace, wood-fired ovens and earthy brown brick walls, this place does not attempt to be something modern, but fits in nicely to Ballarat’s tapestry of vintage spots and its remnants of the mining era.
The portraits below were probably the only additional elements to the decor, and they seemed to embrace the multiculturalism of Australia by placing various cultures in a Ballarat background. With the art gallery just a street away, Ballarat seems to be home to quite a bit of historic Australian art.
Service was adequate enough, although with large places sometimes it’s hard to catch the attention of a waitress. They helpfully explained to us the different sizes of pizza and roughly how many pieces they would have.
Not a fan of pizza, my friend went for a fettuccini carbonara ($14, small) pasta. I’d probably advise against pasta for a place with only three pasta dishes on their menu. The pasta was too cheesy, although I know that’s the nature of the dish, it wasn’t the pleasant sort of flavour. It was difficult to stomach so we didn’t finish it.
The remainder of the menu is, of course, pizza, so we ordered a few to share. The above was the Butchers, with bacon, sausage, shaved ham, salami, mozzarella, tomato and rosemary ($19).
Overall, what I like about the pizza is the soft, doughy crust. No frills such as cheeseburger crusts but not a hard crunchy crust either – just right.
Besides that, the toppings sounded great on paper but nothing really stood out. For some pizzas, such as the pulled pork ($21, above), the cheese had a strong and unique taste that didn’t suit us. It’s possibly because we aren’t accustomed to strong European cheeses.
Upon investigation, the ingredients include sage, mozzarella, gorgonzola dolce, garlic, green apple coleslaw and Flying Brick cider dressing – I suspect we couldn’t appreciate the gorgonzola dolce, a type of blue cheese.
Another was the Blacksmith, with premium pork sausage, mozzarella, mushroom, garlic, parsley ($19, above). The sausage was tasty and the pizza didn’t seem to have any little quirks that we didn’t like.
Our friend also recommended the Shearer’s pizza, a lamb and goat’s cheese pizza ($22, below, top left corner), which the boys enjoyed as it tasted “like a kebab on a pizza”. This and the Blacksmith were probably the most agreeable pizzas for us.
They had a special that day, which was a chilli meatball pizza of Habanero chilli meatballs, San Marzano tomato, basil, buffalo mozzarella, Grana Padano & salsa verde (below). The meatballs gave a chilli aftertaste after a few seconds, but we were a bit put off by the fact that the greens (salsa verde?) were not spread out on the pizza, but placed in lazy looking clumps.
This place has a great variety of pizza, however I can’t say it’s amazing as everyone makes it out to be. The pizzas sounded different and interesting but the results tasted a bit odd. Maybe it’s true to Italian culture with its use of various cheeses, but I can’t really say. Let me know your thoughts in the comments if you’ve been here!
For other activities in Ballarat, don’t forget to check out my Weekendnotes article!