The Royal Croquet Club pop-up in Melbourne is now in full swing, bringing Broadsheet-approved snacks, fruit-filled jugs of Pimm’s and an AstroTurfed croquet lawn to the riverfront expanse of Birrarung Marr.
Melbourne’s hottest new pop-up is only in town until Sunday 1 February, before it scoots off to Adelaide, so take the first sun-blessed opportunity you get to try it out for yourself. Look for the fairy lights and circus bigtop along the stretch of riverbank that was most recently home to the Night Noodle Markets.
Eat My Words popped along to the opening last night with the Schweppes team, managing to avoid the insanely long queues for food and booze (yep, Melbourne loves a pop-up – Club Aperol, we’re looking at you.)
In our grassy little enclave, we were plied with endless jugs of Pimm’s and a selection of snacks from the cherry-picked food stalls. First up was a lamb cutlet from Meatmother, chargrilled to a juicy medium-rare blush, stacked on a mound of herby, cornichon-spiked potato salad.
Mr Claws made an all-too-brief appearance next. In a play that wouldn’t have looked out of place on a football field, we stuck out our elbows and charged head-first for the platter, snapping up the last of the buns. To be honest, I would have happily tripped over a nanna in my rush to secure one. The butter and sugar levels in the toasted brioche were off the charts, giving it the rich, sweet flavour and feather-light texture of a croissant. It was the perfect partner to the fresh, delicate hunks of lobster, loosely bound with dill-flecked buttermilk ranch dressing.
Next, Gelato Messina dished out their fab new range of desserts in cans. The International Soup Kitchen collection has been crafted to match the savoury cuisines on offer, with the Faux Pho of salted-coconut icecream, kaffir lime marshmallow and lychee coconut cream riffing off Miss Chu’s mod-Viet delights. DOC’s Italian porchetta rolls play nice with the Zuppa Duppa of hazelnut gelato, strawberry preserve and crumbled amaretti, and the American Chow Down of peanut gelato, Oreo custard and cream cheese mousse is best buds with the US-inspired styling of Mr Claws.
After witnessing the madness of opening night, I have a few tips to make your croquet experience pain-free: come early, bring cash (the queues for the ATMs rival those for the food stalls) and wear flats. Believe me ladies, that gravel ground is hell on high heels.
Royal Croquet Club
Lower Level, Birrarung Marr
Jan 16–Feb 1