Where: Good Times, 214 St Georges Road Fitzroy North
What: My new summertime hangout
Who: Monemoiselle, The Doc, Rosé Doré and Hangover Queen
Bloat score: 5 – So full of gas I floated home like a hot air balloon
214 St Georges Road has been a rotating cavalcade of restaurants – North Fitzroy Mexican brunch place El Chino gave way to Indian-inspired brunch place Tootsie Roller which then gave way to an empty lot until a suspiciously good deal took hold. No new sign was erected, but scribbled on the window were the words ‘$9 pasta’ and ‘$9 aperol spritz’ so I honestly don’t know why it took me so long to visit – maybe my intolerance to both things?
A new pasta bar has come to occupy 214 St Georges Road and without any identifying storefront name save for the ‘good times’ sign emblazoned on the yellow façade of the building, the pasta bar is aptly known as Good Times.
The courtyard, shaded by a canopy of trees and cosy in an unassuming way, was always the best part of both El Chino and Tootsie Roller, so we traipsed towards the back on a sunny Saturday evening to find a rare unoccupied table. It’s pretty casual at Good Times – you order at the front counter and both your drink and pasta is delivered soon after.
Good Times lured us in with a $9 pasta and $9 aperol spritz deal but the reality was slightly different – there were indeed $9 pastas, but there was also a selection of $14 and $19 pastas, one of which was a $19 South Australian mussel and spaghetti dish, which was too hard for this seafood fiend to pass up. Also, the $9 aperol spritzes had been replaced by $9 negronis when we visited, which was just fine with me – I like negronis as much as I like aperol spritzes.
One of the reasons why I initially went for the mussel dish was because apart from the actual spaghetti, every other ingredient was something I could eat on my low-histamine diet – mussels, garlic, chilli, parsley, white wine (okay maybe not this, but doesn’t most of the wine evaporate anyway?) – so imagine my surprise when the garlicky olive oil seafood dish that I was expecting came swimming in a pool of tomatoes (note for first-time readers: tomatoes are extremely high in histamines and make me extremely sick).
My first thought: shit, not again! I’d already been stymied by a wayward tomato dish earlier that day, and knew this second serving of tomato wouldn’t bode well for my insides. My second thought: why was white wine mentioned as an ingredient over tomato!?
The mussels in this were incredibly fresh, and I had to concede that $19 was an affordable price point for the number of mussels we got in this dish. The pasta was slightly too soupy for my liking, however, particularly on a hot evening. Hindsight is a gift, and if I’d known I was getting a wet tomato dish, I would have gone for the $9 Puttanesca instead. The Doc got the same dish as me and echoed my sentiments – we both struggled to finish this dish in the sweltering heat – and what’s more, we committed Italian blasphemy by adding parmesan to our seafood dish, not that that would’ve been enough to raise the eyebrows of the nonchalant waitstaff at Good Times.
Puttanesca was what Monemoiselle and Hangover Queen ordered and neither of them had any complaints – I sampled a strand of spaghetti and it was pleasantly slicked with salt due to the olives, capers and anchovies. Good Times also offers a vegan version of this dish without the anchovies.
Rosé Doré can never go past a carbonara, whether it’s in her kitchen or when she’s perusing Uber Eats, so she ordered the $14 bowl at Good Times. She absolutely loved this and said it was one of the better ones she’d had – I admit to enviously staring at her as she ate her light and creamy pasta while I struggled not to get tomato splashback on my dress.
We whiled away the hours at Good Times as the sun set and the tables around us gave way to different faces looking to slurp a bowl of cheap pasta before moving on to their next Saturday night plan. We had no plans other than guzzling as many negronis and bottles of wine as we could, even ordering a serve of garlic bread after we’d hung out there so long we became peckish again. At ten minutes short of 11pm, the restaurant offered last drinks in the form of $9 espresso martinis and everyone but the sensible Rosé Doré acquiesced – I, as a result, didn’t get to sleep until 2am and The Doc woke up in the middle of the night.
Good Times is a hidden gem frequented mostly by locals in the know, but everyone should hear about the cheapest restaurant-quality pasta enjoyed in the best courtyard Melbourne has to offer. I mis-ordered with my pasta, but Good Times can’t be blamed for that. With a rotating blackboard of daily specials, the only catch is that Good Times is only open from 3pm to 11pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Maybe it’s a good thing – $9 pasta would be too good to pass up on a lazy weeknight, even if the combination of pasta, garlic bread, negronis and prosecco meant I floated home like a hot air balloon in a lot of pain clutching the sides of my stomach.
Good Times is open from 5pm to 11pm on Friday and from 3pm to 11pm Saturday to Sunday.