When I was working in Melbourne last month, some of my Melbourne colleagues took me out for lunch at The Rotunda. It’s a cute little octagonal building, with glass all around, right on the beach on the Esplanade in the quaint and quiet suburb of Williamstown in the western suburbs. There’s a Rotunda tuck shop underneath which sells quick snacks and drinks to beach goers in the summer.
It’s the kind of place that you would drive right by unless you were a local and knew the area well. In fact, it’s the kind of place that you wouldn’t even drive by – Williamstown is out of the way for most Melbournians as it’s not near any major arterials. It’s definitely a hidden gem.
It was very quiet the day we went, and we were one of only two groups. Not only was it mid-week but the sky outside was grey and grizzly, with a real chill in the air. The rain was steadily increasing, the wind was picking up, and we were in for a storm that night. These conditions actually gave us the perfect view from our table by the windows – the ocean was rough and the rhythm of the waves were hypnotising.
The menu was very much along the lines of fast Modern Australian food – pizzas, focaccias, a pasta or two, and some grilled steaks and salads. All simple, standard fare, perfect for that casual beach environment.
I chose a vegetarian pizza, which had a crispy yet puffy base, and was absolutely covered with healthy veggies. The roasted eggplants and capsicums that topped the pizza had a beautiful smoky flavour, like they had been roasted in a wood-fired oven. For all I know, the pizza itself had probably been cooked in a wood-fired oven!
The feta cheese as well was an inspired choice, given the absence of spicy or salty meats on the pizza. The salty tanginess of the feta added an extra dimension of flavour that a standard grated cheese simply wouldn’t have had!
I rate The Rotunda a 7 out of 10. The food is decent, middle-of-the-road and dependable. The real drawcard here however, are the amazing views.