Universal Restaurant, Carlton

Are there restaurants where it always becomes default if you’re too lazy or just don’t know where you want to eat? There’s a few like that for me. One of them (probably not the best out there but is quite consistent) is Universal Restaurant on Lygon Street. It’s within walking distance from a friend’s place and seems to always be the pick (or it’s Laksa King if we feel like Asian) when last minute decisions need to be made. If I’m at home, it’s always either Grand Tofu or our old favourite Star East in Glen Waverley.

Universal is a no frills Italian restaurant serving up generous plates of pastas, steaks, pizzas and traditional Italian desserts at an acceptable price. I’ve never received bad service the many times I’ve been there and food was always quite consistently tasty.

One of Yuye’s favourite dishes is the Pork Ribs & Chicken Wings with tender marinated & grilled pork ribs and chicken wings, served with beer battered chips and a huge side of salad. I always found it to be a very filling dish but the meats were juicy, sweet and finger licking delicious.

I’ve tried many of their dishes including the schnitzel, steaks and pastas so the last time we visited, I wanted to try something different. When we were told the special of the day was lamb shanks with mash, half of our table (and the next big table) all jumped at the idea. It turned out that our table ordered most of the lamb shanks available and we robbed our neighbouring table of theirs…they were only able to order 1 lamb shank in the end. Tis the harsh world of popular food…

The dish didn’t look as big as I thought but it was still surprisingly filling. The shank was so tender it fell right off the bone and the mash was beautifully creamy. The mash was actually green so I think they probably put spinach in it. I also loved the addition of the juicy cherry tomatoes, but I could have done with a little more sauce as they got used up quite quickly.

Racheese got a calamari served with homemade tartare and Italian salad. The salad pile was so big I had to finish them for her. The calamari were tender and juicy on the inside and crispy on the outside but it was just calamari so it wasn’t anything that special.

One thing that I really like is their beer battered chips. I usually like my chips fat and soft in the centre while crunchy on the outside, which is exactly what Universal’s chips are like.

I also got a real vanilla bean milk shake which was very creamy and delicious. It was actually quite thick, the consistency is about half way between regular milk shakes and thick shakes. Arch ordered a chocolate milk shake which I didn’t taste, but I would imagine it would be just as good as the vanilla.

I always enjoy myself when I visit Universal, not purely for the nice food and friendly service, but also for the company I’m with. It’s a nice environment to enjoy a coffee and cake as well over a nice conversation while looking around the room at all the patriotic flags and decorations. It was here that I finally learnt what the Italian flag looked like (yes I know, I’m very bad with flags and the order of colours…).

Question time: Do you have default restaurants that you don’t mind always eating at or do you always like to pick something strategically?

Universal Restaurant
Phone: (03) 9347 4393
139-141 Lygon Street, Carlton VIC 3053

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16 comments… add one
  • Gurumi August 26, 2012, 5:22 pm

    The original Dessert House in one of the Bourke to Little Bourke Arcades was a default, decent no-brainer for a decent feed πŸ™‚

    • Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake August 26, 2012, 7:42 pm

      Yes I used to go there all the time, back in High School/Uni. πŸ™‚ Nowadays don’t really go to the city all that much..

  • msihua August 26, 2012, 5:46 pm

    Oh I so very rarely head up to Lygon these days! But yes, there are places like that.. by default I always head into Mekong for some reason. And here where I live it’s Shyun and Auntie’s Dumplings πŸ™‚

    • Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake August 26, 2012, 7:39 pm

      I love Shyun, a friend of mine lives around there and we’ve been to Shyun a few times. πŸ™‚ If I lived there it might become a default restaurant too!

  • yummychunklet August 26, 2012, 10:58 pm

    As a default, I love calamari, so any place that serves it is tops!

  • kitchenriffs August 27, 2012, 6:01 am

    Sounds like a fun place. We’re the same way about restaurants – if we feel like going out and don’t have a definite place in mind, we often default to the usual 2 or 3 places. But we’re within walking distance of many restaurants, so when we’re not being lazy we have plenty of choices!

  • Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella August 27, 2012, 12:46 pm

    Love those reliably good places with wonderful service and good food too! πŸ™‚ Oh and that’s how I like my chips too!

  • Kiran @ KiranTarun.com August 27, 2012, 4:01 pm

    Those beer-battered chips has my name all over it. Really πŸ˜€

  • choux choux August 27, 2012, 9:38 pm

    Now I want a milk shake πŸ™‚ I always eat at Lygon street but in the asian part so where saigon pho is. There are some nice places to eat on the intersection of victoria street and lygon street, like sambal malaysia and soul vietnamese kitchen.

  • Ming @ sweetandsourfork August 27, 2012, 10:38 pm

    Mm the food looks so simple and hearty, definitely see why it’s on your ‘lazy’ list

  • Iron Chef Shellie August 28, 2012, 10:59 pm

    Rok Kung for family bday dinners, Nikos for souvos, Hook Line and Sinker for Fush and Chups…. just to name a few πŸ˜›
    Love that your table ordered so many shanks they ran out πŸ˜›

    • Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake August 29, 2012, 4:59 pm

      Oooo Rock Kung for my family too! And Gold Leaf in Springvale. πŸ˜› It’s always the same Chinese food I eat with them so I try not to dine there when I eat out myself.

  • Daisy@Nevertoosweet August 29, 2012, 10:45 pm

    Hahhaa Taipan and Wealth Garden are our default for yum cha πŸ™‚ And lol for cheap Italian food we like going to Sofias…definitely not the best but just a default that we go to πŸ˜€

  • Adam August 30, 2012, 11:22 am

    We have stopped eating out pretty much. Too many places have forgotten why they are there and treat you with contempt and are happy to serve you bad food without any friendliness. They may want your money but certainly do not want to work for it. Better spent at home.

  • Ames August 30, 2012, 12:35 pm

    Looks good, might stop there today πŸ˜€ My default is usually a HK style cafe in Box Hill coz my mum works there and they have cheap lunch that’s not bad on the taste factor… just good comfort food :).

  • Brendan September 29, 2012, 10:10 pm

    I laughed when I saw this. Ah memories…
    What else is around there though? Aside from D.O.C, the (busy) Carlton part of Lygon Street just doesn’t seem to have anything to offer in the way of restaurants.

    At my old place I would default to pub meals at the Edinburgh Castle Hotel. They aren’t fancy, but they are cheap and a good feed. $10 roo burgers on Monday nights.


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