It was a sad day when Greasy Joe’s kicked the bucket. In the diner’s 30 years of serving St Kilda, its beers were deemed responsible for some of the locals' most poignant hangovers and its burgers considered the only cure. But cry no more because in the past month the joint has been born again. Meet the new and much improved Joe’s.
New owner Rob Gringlas has gone retro beachy with the fit-out – the wood is as blonde as the hairdos rolling in off the sand, and there’s a lovely bunch of coconut palms splashed across the wall. Just add water and we’d be swimming right up to the island bar and into a feisty rum, lime, mint and grapefruit Mojito. A strong cocktail menu is part of Gringlas’ master plan, and with ex-Cookie man Matt Stirling on board, we see long boozy nights here on the cards.
Food-wise, they haven’t forgotten that they’re on Melbourne’s Sunset Strip, so steaks (dry- aged), big salads and burgers still form the backbone of the menu. Finger adhering pork ribs and ‘slaw ($10) are our pick of the snack menu that tilts fashionably towards the cuisine of Southern USA – they’re all smoky and sticky with barbecue sauce, and suit the hell out of can-only-get-it-here St Kilda Brew ($4.50) – one of eight all-local beers on tap.
Corn on the cob ($8) comes two to a serve, evenly charred and buttered with a little dish of Murray River salt flakes on the side. They’re better dipped in the creamy mustard and chilli sauce from the devilled chicken skewers, but the tepid spice on the skewers themselves doesn’t inspire us enough to order this dish again. A fancified burger menu now sports a wagyu option, but we prefer the fish number ($17.50). The thick bun is a little cumbersome but the grilled fish (rock ling on our visit) is sweet and comes with a fresh crunch of radish, carrot, cabbage and pickled ginger that makes smashing your way through the thick, triple cooked chips seem justifiable.
With a cocktails greatest hits menu in the works, and a crew intent on showing this town a good time, Joe’s is no longer a place just for locals. Time to jump the 96 tram, we reckon.
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