Ground Floor at Newtown Social Club

Scott Wallace
25th Jul 2015
$15 - $20

If you’ve visited Newtown Social Club’s ground floor area, then you may remember it as being a little bit cramped, maybe a bit dingy. Now re-branded with some capital letters as Ground Floor and given a facelift to match, Newtown Social Club provides a new food and drink menu that perfectly complements the broad array of awesome bands that play upstairs.

The change is not completely dramatic – there’s still an industrial flavour to the exposed supports and brickwork – but a fresh coat of paint and some vertical gardens give it a far more pleasant atmosphere.

The biggest change is in the menu, which before was standard bar food like hotdogs and sliders with some cheeky flavours, and is now centred around meatballs. In a sort of throwback to the 1970’s, Ground Floor presents meatballs that they describe as a “choose your own adventure” with “balls of the world.”

The ball/sauce/side selections give a great amount of free reign to patrons. If you want to pair the balls containing free range chicken, Monterey jack cheese and harissa spices with chermoula sauce and buttered penne pasta, then go ahead. Any combination of balls, sauce and side is $19.

The meatballs – of which there are three in a serving - are all firm in texture, but not dry, with a surprising depth of flavour. The vegetarian option - made of tofu, eggplant and pesto – is particularly delicious, with a rich curry-like flavour, and even meaty in its texture, but it’s no surprise that you’ll find delicious (not necessarily healthy) vegetarian food in Newtown.

Speaking of which, the sides are mostly good, particularly the perfectly seasoned and roasted pumpkin, the rich kale tabouleh and the beautifully fluffy couscous which is made more substantial with chickpeas.

The mains and sides show an attention to detail, which is also present in the appetiser share plates. The appetisers come in both a meat and vegetarian version and deliver a very well-executed range of flavours. The share plates are generous, and would happily feed around five people for only $22 for the vegetarian or $26 for meat.

Another highlight is the casava chips served with sour cream and sweet chilli. While they may be slightly overpriced at $9 for a rather small serving, they are crunchy on the outside and intriguingly soft on the inside.

The few missteps that were present in the food – such as the apparent overload of lemon zest in the mash, or the rather small servings and disappointingly sparing use of toppings and syrups on the vanilla bean ice cream for dessert – were distracting, but not ruinously so. One gets the sense that once the new menu is tightened up, it will be more consistent. 

The new selection of cocktails are perhaps Ground Floor’s best asset. Running from $16 to $25, the prices are pretty standard, but they are well made, gorgeously presented and, above all, tasty. The Ginger Passion Snap in particular shows a great ability with balancing flavours.

The new menu at Ground Floor is not mind-blowing, but it’s a novel idea that mostly pays off. It offers a variety of global flavours and textures in a simple form, showing a lot of ambition to go beyond pub food. It’s also reasonably priced and offers a nice, relaxing atmosphere for dining or drinking.

Visit the Ground Floor website and check out the menu here.